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Occupation Profile

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Heavy and Tractor-Trailer Truck Drivers
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Description: what do they do?
Drive a tractor-trailer combination or a truck with a capacity of at least 26,000 pounds Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW). May be required to unload truck. Requires commercial drivers' license.
Also known as:
Driver, Line Haul Driver, Tractor Trailer Operator, Log Truck Driver, Delivery Driver, Semi Truck Driver, Truck Driver, Road Driver, Production Truck Driver, Over the Road Driver (OTR Driver)

    What does this information tell me?

    This description is a quick overview of what workers in this career might do.

    "Also known as" shows other common names for this career.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from an O*NET database. Learn more on the Help page.

Career video
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    Transcript: Excellent driving skills, quick reaction time, good hearing, and accurate vision form the baseline of what it takes to be a truck driver. Heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers transport goods from one location to another. Most are long-haul drivers with routes spanning several states, though some cover local routes only. Safety is a major concern in this field, as vehicles can weigh more than 26,000 pounds. Drivers must know and follow special regulations for carrying different cargo, such as chemical waste, liquids, or oversized loads. Routes are assigned by a dispatcher, though drivers may use a GPS to help them plan. Truck drivers work for freight and wholesale trade companies, although some own and operate their own trucks. Their demanding schedules can keep them away from home for days or weeks at a time. Work hours, including breaks, are highly regulated, but drivers often work nights, weekends, and holidays. Because of traffic accidents, handling cargo, and long periods of sitting, there is high risk of illness or injury. Drivers must not have any medical conditions that could impair driving. Heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers usually have a high school diploma and a commercial driver’s license. Many learn their skills at a professional truck driving school. On-duty drivers are randomly tested for drug and alcohol use.
View transcript
Outlook: will there be jobs?
Image. Employment outlook for this occupation
New job opportunities are very likely in the future.

This occupation is:
  • Projected to have a large number of job openings


    What does this information tell me?

    Outlook information can tell you whether a career is expected to be in demand in the future—that is, whether there are likely to be job openings if you choose this career. Careers can have one of three outlooks:

    • A Bright outlook means new job opportunities are very likely in the future
    • An Average outlook means that a small number of new job opportunities are likely in the future (less than an 8 percent increase)
    • A Below Average outlook means new job opportunities are less likely in the future

    You can also view local job listings in this field by clicking "Find job openings" above. This can help you see if local businesses are hiring—another way of looking at demand.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from the O*NET Resource Center. Learn more about O*NET’s Bright Outlook occupations. Note this information is only available at a national level, so even if you selected a state, you’ll only see this information for the whole country.

Projected employment
South Carolina
29,310
2016 Employment
33,390
2026 Employment
14%
Percent change
3,710
Annual projected job openings
United States
1,871,700
2016 Employment
1,980,100
2026 Employment
6%
Percent change
213,500
Annual projected job openings

    What does this information tell me?

    Projected employment shows how much employment is expected to grow in this occupation over a 10-year period. This can help you decide if this career is a good choice for future job opportunities. You can look at projected employment in your state, or in other states where you might consider living.

    You can see the total number of people employed in this occupation in 2016, the number expected to be employed in 2026, and rate of growth over those years.

    The projections are based on assumptions of unemployment rates and labor productivity growth rates.  While the projected numbers may not be exact, they are helpful to compare one career to another, or one location to another.

    What is the source of this information?

    State-level data come from Projections Central and each state's Labor Market Information office.

    National-level data come from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Employment Projections, 2016-26.

Typical wages

Annual wages for Heavy and Tractor-Trailer Truck Drivers in South Carolina
This graph displays wage data.  Find details by selecting the table view.
This chart displays wage data.  Find details by selecting the table view.
LocationSouth CarolinaUnited States
10%$26,880$27,510
25%$32,830$34,210
Median$39,850$42,480
75%$49,350$53,030
90%$61,260$64,000


    What does this information tell me?

    This chart shows you a range of how much most workers in this occupation earn per hour, in the location that you selected.

    You can select from three views of this data:

    • The Graph shows you wages at the 10th, 25th, 50th, 75th and 90th percentiles. Note that the lowest (10th %ile) wage shown is not necessarily a "starting wage." Instead it means that 10 percent of all workers in this career earn less that this amount, and 90 percent earn more. However, you can assume that you might earn close to the 10th or 25th %ile wages when you start out in most careers.
    • Select "Chart" to see a visual comparison between national wages and wages in the location you selected.
    • Select "Table" to see more wage data the national and local level.

    Please note that wage data are not available at the city or ZIP code level. If you selected a city or ZIP code, you will see wage data for the regional area.

    Also note that in this update, 21 detailed occupations found within the 2010 Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) were replaced with 10 new aggregations of those occupations; read more about these OES changes.

    You can learn more about wages for this and other occupations by clicking “See more wages” above.

    What is the source of this information?

    The wage information comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics Program, 2017 data. For more detailed state wage data, please find the link to your state's wage data program in the Other Resources box.

Education and experience: to get started
People starting in this career usually have:
  • Postsecondary certificate
  • No work experience
  • Less than 1 month on-the-job training

Programs that can prepare you:

    What does this information tell me?

    This shows you the typical level of education, work experience, and on-the-job training that most people have when they start in this career. Note that these are not requirements for entering this field, but the information can help you understand how qualified you might be.

    Interested in starting in this career? You can search for education programs in your local area by clicking “Find local training” above.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Office of Occupational Statistics and Employment Projections Education and Training Data.

Typical education
How much education do most people in this career have?
Chart. Percent of workers in this field by education level attained

    What does this information tell me?

    This chart shows you the range of education levels that people who currently work in this field have. You can use this to see if you fit in this range. Note that this includes ALL people who work in this field and not just those getting started.

    Interested in getting qualified for this career? You can search for programs that lead to the education needed, in your local area, by clicking “Find local training” above.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Office of Occupational Statistics and Employment Projections Education and Training Data.

Certifications: show your skills
Let employers know you have the skills to do well at this job.
Earning a certification can help you:
  • Get a job
  • Get a promotion

    What does this information tell me?

    When you click "Find certifications" you'll see a list of national certifications that are related to this career. From there, you can learn how to achieve one of these certifications to help you enter or get ahead in this field.

    What is the source of this information?

    This collection of occupational certifications is collected and regularly updated by CareerOneStop. Learn more at Certification Finder Help.

Licenses: do you need one?
Some states require an occupational license to work in this career.

    What does this information tell me?

    When you click "Find license details in your state" you'll see the license name and contact information for the agency in your state that oversees licensing for this field. If you have not selected a location, you'll see a list of all state licenses for this occupation.

    What is the source of this information?

    Information on licensed occupations is gathered in each state by Labor Market Information units under a grant from the U.S. Department of Labor. Learn more at License Finder Help.

Apprenticeships: learn on the job
Apprenticeships combine paid on-the-job-training with classroom lessons.

    What does this information tell me?

    When you click "Find apprenticeship sponsors" you'll find information that can help you locate apprenticeship opportunities in your state:

    • If there are businesses that have sponsored apprenticeships in this field in the past, you'll find their name and contact information.
    • If there are related occupations that might have apprenticeship opportunities, you'll find links to that information.
    • You'll also see contact information for state and federal agencies that oversee apprenticeship programs.

    What is the source of this information?

    Apprenticeship information comes from the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Apprenticeships, and from CareerOneStop. Learn more at Apprenticeship Finder Help.

Activities: what you might do in a day
  • Inspect motor vehicles.
  • Follow safety procedures for vehicle operation.
  • Inspect cargo to ensure it is properly loaded or secured.
  • Record service or repair activities.
  • Record operational or production data.
  • Secure cargo.
  • Monitor cargo area conditions.
  • Operate vehicles or material-moving equipment.
  • Report vehicle or equipment malfunctions.
  • Notify others of emergencies, problems, or hazards.
  • Collect fares or payment from customers.
  • Review documents or materials for compliance with policies or regulations.
  • Review work orders or schedules to determine operations or procedures.
  • Verify information or specifications.
  • Connect cables or electrical lines.
  • Inspect cargo areas for cleanliness or condition.
  • Acquire supplies or equipment.
  • Maintain vehicles in good working condition.
  • Read maps to determine routes.
  • Package materials or products.
  • Operate communications equipment or systems.
  • Choose optimal transportation routes or speeds.
  • Adjust routes or speeds as necessary.
  • Load shipments, belongings, or materials.
  • Remove debris or damaged materials.
  • Install parts, assemblies, or attachments in transportation or material handling equipment.
  • Direct material handling or moving activities.

    What does this information tell me?

    This is a list of typical work activities that people in this career might do on the job. You can use this list to get an idea of whether this career might be a good fit for you.

    Click on “More activities” to see more detailed examples of activities for this career.

    You can also use this list to help you prepare for a job interview. Or, if you’ve already held a job like this, you can copy these activities to use on your resume.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from O*NET OnLine's Occupation Information. They are O*NET’s Detailed Work Activities.

Knowledge
People in this career often know a lot about:
  • Transportation - Knowledge of principles and methods for moving people or goods by air, rail, sea, or road, including the relative costs and benefits.
  • Public Safety and Security - Knowledge of relevant equipment, policies, procedures, and strategies to promote effective local, state, or national security operations for the protection of people, data, property, and institutions.
  • Customer and Personal Service - Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
  • English Language - Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.

    What does this information tell me?

    This is a list of general knowledge areas that are most commonly required for jobs in the career. Knowledge is typically gained through education and related experience.

    This list can help you learn if you are prepared for a job in this career. It can also help you decide on education or training programs that could help you prepare for the career.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from the O*NET Resource Center. Learn more about O*NET's Knowledge descriptors.

Skills
People in this career often have these skills:
  • Operation and Control - Using equipment or systems.
  • Operation Monitoring - Watching gauges, dials, or display screens to make sure a machine is working.

    What does this information tell me?

    This is a list of a list the work-related skills most commonly required for jobs in the career.

    This list can help you understand how well your current skills fit this career. It can also help you plan your education or professional development.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from the O*NET Resource Center. Learn more about O*NET's Skills descriptors.

Abilities
People in this career often have talent in:
  • Far Vision - Seeing details that are far away.
  • Control Precision - Quickly changing the controls of a machine, car, truck or boat.
  • Near Vision - Seeing details up close.
  • Reaction Time - Quickly moving your hand, finger, or foot based on a sound, light, picture or other command.
  • Response Orientation - Quickly deciding if you should move your hand, foot, or other body part.
  • Multilimb Coordination - Using your arms and/or legs together while sitting, standing, or lying down.
  • Depth Perception - Deciding which thing is closer or farther away from you, or deciding how far away it is from you.
  • Spatial Orientation - Knowing where things are around you.
  • Rate Control - Changing when and how fast you move based on how something else is moving.
  • Problem Sensitivity - Noticing when problems happen.

    What does this information tell me?

    This is a list of a list of personal qualities that might influence work and are most commonly required for success in this career.

    This list can help you understand if your natural strengths and abilities are a good fit for this career.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from the O*NET Resource Center. Learn more about O*NET's Abilities descriptors.

Interests
  • Conventional - Occupations related to Conventional interests frequently involve following set procedures and routines. They include working with data and details more than with ideas. Usually there is a clear line of authority to follow.
  • Realistic - Occupations with Realistic interests frequently involve practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.

    What does this information tell me?

    This is a list of work environment-preferences that are most commonly associated with the career. It can help you understand if your natural interests are a good fit for this career.

    Click "Take an interest assessment" for a quick 30-question assessment that can help you understand your interests and see careers that might be good matches for them.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from the O*NET Resource Center. Learn more about O*NET's Interest descriptors.

Typical tasks
  • Check vehicles to ensure that mechanical, safety, and emergency equipment is in good working order.
  • Follow appropriate safety procedures for transporting dangerous goods.
  • Inspect loads to ensure that cargo is secure.
  • Maintain logs of working hours or of vehicle service or repair status, following applicable state and federal regulations.
  • Secure cargo for transport, using ropes, blocks, chain, binders, or covers.
  • Follow special cargo-related procedures, such as checking refrigeration systems for frozen foods or providing food or water for livestock.
  • Maneuver trucks into loading or unloading positions, following signals from loading crew and checking that vehicle and loading equipment are properly positioned.
  • Report vehicle defects, accidents, traffic violations, or damage to the vehicles.
  • Obtain receipts or signatures for delivered goods and collect payment for services when required.
  • Drive trucks with capacities greater than 3 tons, including tractor-trailer combinations, to transport and deliver products, livestock, or other materials.
  • Check all load-related documentation for completeness and accuracy.
  • Read bills of lading to determine assignment details.
  • Drive trucks to weigh stations before and after loading and along routes in compliance with state regulations.
  • Collect delivery instructions from appropriate sources, verifying instructions and routes.
  • Couple or uncouple trailers by changing trailer jack positions, connecting or disconnecting air or electrical lines, or manipulating fifth-wheel locks.
  • Check conditions of trailers after contents have been unloaded to ensure that there has been no damage.
  • Inventory and inspect goods to be moved to determine quantities and conditions.
  • Perform basic vehicle maintenance tasks, such as adding oil, fuel, or radiator fluid or performing minor repairs.
  • Read and interpret maps to determine vehicle routes.
  • Wrap and secure goods using pads, packing paper, containers, or straps.
  • Operate equipment, such as truck cab computers, CB radios, phones, or global positioning systems (GPS) equipment to exchange necessary information with bases, supervisors, or other drivers.
  • Plan or adjust routes based on changing conditions, using computer equipment, global positioning systems (GPS) equipment, or other navigation devices, to minimize fuel consumption and carbon emissions.
  • Load or unload trucks or help others with loading or unloading, using special loading-related equipment or other equipment as necessary.
  • Remove debris from loaded trailers.
  • Install or remove special equipment, such as tire chains, grader blades, plow blades, or sanders.
  • Perform emergency roadside repairs, such as changing tires or installing light bulbs, tire chains, or spark plugs.
  • Give directions to laborers who are packing goods and moving them onto trailers.
  • Drive electric or hybrid-electric powered trucks or alternative fuel-powered trucks to transport and deliver products, livestock, or other materials.
  • Operate trucks equipped with snowplows or sander attachments to maintain roads in winter weather.

    What does this information tell me?

    This is a list of typical tasks that people in this career might do on the job.  You can use this list to get an idea of whether this career might be a good fit for you.

    Click on “More tasks” to see more detailed examples for this career.

    You can also use this list to help you prepare for a job interview. Or, if you’ve already held a job like this, you can copy these tasks to use on your resume.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from O*NET OnLine's Occupation Information. They are O*NET‘s Tasks.

    What does this information tell me?

    These are additional online resources related to this career. You may find different or more detailed information at these sources.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information is collected and maintained by CareerOneStop.