Job Description for a Tractor Driver

Written by steve amoia
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  • Introduction

    Job Description for a Tractor Driver

    Tractor drivers operate and maintain heavy-duty construction vehicles. They work for private construction companies, pavement contractors, and local, state and federal government agencies. Tractor drivers work in loud environments and in tight quarters for long hours. Good coordination, eyesight and quick decision-making ability are essential qualities in this construction profession.

    Tractor drivers perform an integral function with road projects. (tractor image by Greg Pickens from

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    Tractor drivers move large amounts of dirt, gravel, sand and road materials at construction sites. They smooth road foundations and transport construction materials and refuse. Tractor drivers perform daily preventive maintenance procedures and safety inspections of their equipment.

    They move big loads at building projects. (tractor image by AGITA LEIMANE from

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    Tractor drivers must have a high school diploma or GED and hold a valid commercial driver's license (CDL). Aspiring tractor drivers should take classes in automobile mechanics, diesel mechanics, hydraulic systems and mechanical drawing. Knowledge of computer systems is important for tractors with GPS and advanced hydraulic systems.

    Coursework in mechanical and hydraulic systems is beneficial. (book, books -many books image by drx from

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    Tractor drivers learn their craft in formal apprenticeship programs. The International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) offers 95 training programs in North America. Apprenticeship programs last three years with approximately 6,000 hours of on-the-job training combined with 144 hours of annual classroom instruction.

    Classroom training lasts for three years. (today image by alwayspp from

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    Key Traits

    Successful tractor drivers must have excellent hand-eye coordination and manual dexterity. The ability to work in noisy and cramped areas is integral. Good physical condition, precise hand movements and mechanical aptitude are important. Tractor drivers work in diverse weather conditions and often in dangerous locales. They must be available for night or weekend work during emergency situations.

    Tractor drivers work in noisy and dirty environments. (trac on tractor image by jimcox40 from

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    Anticipated Salary

    According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), operating engineers earned a mean hourly wage of £13.80 and a mean annual salary of £28,717, as of May 2008. They earned annual salaries ranging from £17,036 for the lowest 10 per cent to £45,526 for the highest 10 per cent.

    The mean annual salary was £28,717 in 2008. (Dollars image by Jakub Niezabitowski from

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    The BLS projects job growth of 12 per cent for construction equipment operators between 2008 and 2018. This figure is approximately as fast as average compared to all other occupations. Increased spending by federal and state governments for infrastructure repairs and improvements contribute to the favourable prospects, according to BLS.

    BLS projected 12 per cent growth in 2008. (binocular image by bright from

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    Expert Insight

    The International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) discusses one of the major advantages of union membership on its website: "In states that have laws restricting workers' rights to form strong unions, the average pay for all workers is lower."

    According to IUOE, union members earn more than their non-union counterparts. (tractor image by Colin Buckland from

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