Whether you are a new driver just applying for your CDL or an experienced driver, obtaining a tanker endorsement is worth your consideration. Because of the additional responsibility and demands placed on drivers in this field, tanker truck driving jobs are among the best paying jobs in the industry.
With the right training and the right experience, CDL tanker jobs may be the right path for your trucking career.
What do Tanker Truck Driving Jobs involve?
When most people think about tanker truck driving jobs, they likely think about the hauling of hazardous materials like gasoline, oil lubricants, petroleum, or other types of chemicals. While these materials are hauled in tanker trucks, hazardous materials are not the only products being moved in these containers.
Food grade tanker trailers are used to haul nonhazardous liquids, including milk and water. Solid dry bulk materials, including sugar or cement mix are transported in pneumatic tankers. Simply put, there is a huge variety of materials that are transported by a tanker truck driver.
Special Training is Required
While hauling a tanker in some states is possible with a Class B CDL, many states require a Class A license. There will be specialized training and testing for drivers seeking to haul tanker freight, so check with your state to learn about the specific rules and regulations as they apply to your area. Depending on the type of freight you transport, you may need to have your hazardous materials endorsement or other endorsements to pull a tanker behind your truck.
When you are testing to become certified for tanker driver jobs, you should expect to successfully complete a written exam and pre-trip inspection in front of a qualified law enforcement official.
CDL Tanker Jobs Will Require experience
Because of the difficult and hazardous nature of the job, general experience in the trucking industry is nearly always required for tanker truck driving jobs. Because the stakes are higher, even though you may have successfully completed the special training and are legally permitted to drive a tanker, many trucking companies prefer to hire drivers who have prior CDL experience, hauling a dry van or a flatbed trailer, for example. What does this mean for you, the driver? It means you’ll probably want to work a few years in entry-level positions before moving into tanker truck hauling.
Other Tanker Driver Responsibilities
Some CDL jobs require little more than safe driving, but tanker trucking jobs will likely require much more. You may be responsible for connecting hoses, ensuring tight seals, opening valves, and starting pumps to fill tanks. In this regard, tanker jobs may be more physically demanding that other driving positions.
Drivers will likely be required to read gauges and record quantities, all while keeping detailed records on the materials.
The tanker trucking industry is highly regulated, and violations are quite costly. Accordingly, tanker drivers must have a solid understanding of all laws involving transport of hazardous materials, as well as any regulatory changes that might affect future deliveries. Safety procedures will be highly enforced to avoid any mishaps that could potentially cause an explosion of flammable materials.
A Drawback of Tanker Trucking Jobs
It is important for a tank driver to be aware that driving a tanker will differ from any other cargo due to the massive weight of a full tank. Also, if the tank does not contain internal baffles to separate portions of a liquid load, the driver will experience a sloshing effect as the liquid flows unobstructed. This movement may adversely affect the driver’s handling and braking ability. Finally, when tank is empty, the truck will move differently, meaning that the same truck can operate with an entirely different feel depending on the type of tank and how full it is.
A good tanker driver must be aware of the handling and size of their tank to maneuver it carefully and safely.
The Future for Tanker Truck Drivers
Since tanker truck driving jobs are clearly a more demanding form of commercial driving, anyone working in this field stands to earn a higher income. While the numbers vary, you can reasonably expect to make more money working in this challenging yet rewarding truck driving job.
While the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics collects data on tractor trailer drivers, it does not break that data down further to specifically address the niche field for tanker truck drivers. However, reports provided by Payscale.com, a research firm collecting salary and benefit data nationwide to provide statistically accurate salary data in real time, do address wages for tanker truck drivers.
Specifically, for those drivers who choose to obtain their hazmat certification, Payscale reports an average salary of nearly $58,000, with some tanker truck driving pay reaching $80,000.
Since carriers always have truck driving jobs to fill, it is important that drivers know where to look when in the market for a new career or making a job change. Internet job boards, such as CDLjobs.com, offer some of the best ways for company and independent drivers to get connected with carriers who can offer them employment. The best part of this scenario is that the service is typically free and within just a few minutes, you can find CDL jobs offered by many trucking companies who need your services!