Careers In Truck Driving

Careers In Truck Driving

DOT Halethorpe MD Careers In Truck Driving

If you are in good physical and mental health and are passionate about driving, then a career in truck driving could benefit you. Discover different types of truck driving careers, qualifications and the work environment, to make a well-informed decision.

Tractor-Trailer and Heavy Truck Drivers

As a driver for heavy trucks and tractor-trailer trucks, you transport goods to the required destination. Most drivers in this segment operate vehicles that are over 26, 000 pounds in weight, combining the vehicle, cargo and passengers. As a heavy truck or tractor-trailer driver, you will transport goods through intercity routes.

As a driver in this segment, you have to travel long distances, adhere to state and federal laws, report traffic violations, and transport cargo in a secured manner. Most drivers work full-time. It is required by law for drivers to not prolong their workhours over 14 hours straight.

Vulnerability to traffic accidents puts truck drivers at an occupational risk that is one of the highest in the country.

Drivers in this category require a high school diploma or an equivalent education as most companies prefer such education. As a prospective driver, attending a truck driving school is preferable. This training equips aspirants with the practical knowledge of truck driving, traffic laws and federal and state regulations.

Training can be obtained from a private institute or through a community college program. Practical training usually lasts for 3 - 6 months. A certificate of completion is issued upon training completion.

CDL (Commercial Driver’s License)
A CDL is mandatory according to Federal law. A CDL is applicable for truck drivers that drive long distances or operate heavy trucks. A CDL test varies from state to state, but the basics involve passing a driving test and a knowledge test.

Drivers that use their trucks for transporting materials requiring a HAZMAT tag must have an additional H (hazardous materials) endorsement.

Pay & Job Growth
The Bureau of Labor Statistics puts the median annual wage of drivers in the heavy truck and tractor-trailer segment at $48, 310. Drivers in this segment are usually paid on the basis of the miles they cover. In addition, they are given bonuses.

The remuneration per mile depends on the employer, driver experience and the goods being carried. In some cases, drivers may receive a part of the shipping revenue, as remuneration.

The need for drivers in this segment is expected to grow by 4% over the period of 2021 to 2031.

Light Truck Drivers

A light truck driver drives a vehicle that is less than 26, 001 pounds in GVW or Gross Vehicle Weight. A light truck driver usually transports merchandise from a distribution facility to the required destination. Duties may also include loading and unloading the vehicle.

A high school diploma or an education equivalent in standards, is preferred for light truck drivers. Practical training is essential to be viewed as a preferred employee.

Light truck drivers need a CDL to operate their vehicle.

Some of the top industries that employ light truck drivers include:

  • Couriers and express delivery service providers offering an annual mean wage of $55, 480
  • Truck transportation service providers with an annual mean wage of $45, 200
  • Merchant wholesalers and durable goods dealers, presenting an annual mean wage of $39, 770

Florists, automotive part and accessory suppliers, utility departments such as power and water, natural gas distribution, too, among others, employ light truck drivers.

Delivery Truck Drivers

A delivery truck driver transports smaller shipments from the pickup point to the destination, locally. Delivery truck drivers operate their vehicles in local regions or urban areas. As a delivery truck driver, you have to drive long distances. The loading and unloading of packages require physical exertion.

A high school diploma or an equivalent education is important to be viewed as a potential candidate by employers. Some aspirants may get employment with on-the-job training for about a month.

Delivery truck drivers received an annual mean wage of $29, 280 in May 2021.

The job growth for delivery truck drivers is estimated to be 11% over the years between 2021 and 2031.

Medical Requirements

Truck drivers need to pass physical exams to obtain their CDL. This medical examination is referred to as a DOT physical. A DOT physical evaluates if an aspirant’s physical and mental health enables him/ her to pursue a career as a driver.

If you are a truck driver, you’ll need to undergo a DOT physical if:

  • You carry passengers over 8 in number in your vehicle
  • You use your truck for transporting materials that necessitate a HAZMAT tag on display
  • You operate a truck that carries over 15 people

The DOT physical involves an examination of the following:

  • Height and weight
  • Vision and hearing
  • Blood pressure
  • Nervous system and circulatory system
  • Mouth and throat
  • Heart, abdomen, back and spine
  • Lungs and chest
  • Joints
  • Urinary system and genitals

A DOT test also includes a urinalysis, which examines health indicators such as sugar, blood and protein. Your entire medical history including medications, past surgeries, substance use and drug test failures if any, are examined.

What Factors can Disqualify you for a DOT Exam?
DOT examinations are meticulous and strict as they are designed for the safety of the drivers and the public. There are many factors that can disqualify you for a CDL. The key is to prove that you are managing your health, and that any medical condition you may have, is well under control.

There are some medical conditions that are quite likely to disqualify you. These include:

  • Loss of hearing
  • Vision problems that cannot be treated
  • Diabetes mellitus that is poorly managed
  • Narcolepsy
  • Epilepsy
  • Lung or heart disease that is not properly attended to

Is your DOT Certificate Valid?
A DOT certificate is valid only when you are examined by an authorized doctor. The FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) carries a national registry, listing certified medical examiners eligible to perform a DOT evaluation. A DOT physical certificate issued by only such doctors is valid.

These medical examiners include:

  • Osteopathic Doctors (DOs)
  • Medical Doctors (MDs)
  • Chiropractors (DCs)
  • Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs)
  • Physician Assistants (PAs)

A DOT certificate is valid only for a specific time period, which is usually 2 years. If you suffer from a medical condition that necessitates frequent examination, then this validity period can be lower.
Medical conditions such as heart diseases, hypertension and diabetes mellitus necessitate an annual DOT physical.

Severe medical conditions such as blood pressure that is far above normal necessitate a DOT exam every 3 months. This frequency is necessary to evaluate if you are getting your condition treated regularly.


Career as a truck driver is hard work, physically and mentally. It is crucial to take good care of your health. Being in good health helps you ace DOT physical while also enabling you to be alert and safe on the roads. Even if you have a medical condition, ensure that you have it under control, to pass a DOT test, and become a truck driver.