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Tanker Jobs

Driving a tanker truck is slightly different than driving a common tractor-trailer in that tankers haul liquid or semi-liquid cargo such as chemicals, food products and liquids, and fuel. Driving trucks with this type of cargo requires extensive driving and safety training since some liquids are flammable, poisonous, or corrosive, and foods and other perishable goods are date and temperature sensitive. A tanker driver typically gets paid more than a standard tractor-trailer truck driver because tanker drivers are required by law to pass more exams and obtain more specialized driving knowledge and skills. Driving a tanker truck is a challenging job that offers excellent pay and sustainable employment. The following is a breakdown of how to secure a job in this growing profession.

Training and Education

Tanker drivers are required to obtain a Commercial Driver's License (CDL) from a certified vocational or truck driving school. There are thousands of vocational and trucking schools across the country, as well as trucking companies that offer to pay for classes and on the job training. When choosing a truck driving school, select a school that uses the most up-to-date tanker equipment, the latest in truck driver training software, and adequate training facilities. The school should also provide a minimum of 45 hours on-the-road driver training with a veteran tanker driver, who fills the role of a mentor. The curriculum should include classes in types of endorsements, night driving, vehicle maintenance, emergency maneuvers and responses, cargo management, and the Tank Vehicle Examination and CDL license study guides.

Many tanker truck driving students opt to receive additional Hazmat training for certification. This certification is mandated by the U.S. Department of Transportation to haul specific types of chemicals and gas. Hazmat training also teaches students accident management procedures, the proper methods for loading and unloading hazardous materials, and how to fill out hazardous materials paperwork. Receiving Hazmat certification increases a tanker driver's pay rate. Likewise, obtaining a CDL endorsement increases a driver's pay rate. Endorsements such as Hazardous Materials and Tanker upgrade a truck driver's CDL license. There are three classes of CDL licenses: Class A, Class B, and Class C. For instance, a Class-A CDL with a Tanker endorsement is needed to operate large oil tankers, and a Class-A CDL with a Hazmat endorsement is required to transport fuel or other hazardous materials. Class-B CDLs are normally required to operate smaller tanker trucks.

Finding a Job

Most truck driving schools offer job placement services after a student has successfully passed all course requirements and received his or her CDL license with either a Tank Vehicle endorsement or a Hazardous Materials endorsement. Conducting an online job search for tanker jobs is also fairly easy in that there are thousands of trucking companies, product companies, and trucker recruitment sites looking to hire drivers who are in good physical health, do not mind the long work hours, can lift over 20 lbs., and have a clean driving record. Trucker recruitment sites such as classsdrivers.com and careersingear.com list thousands of tank driver jobs throughout the United States looking for veteran and newly graduated truck drivers. Sites like these provide the names of carriers and have a simple application process. Recent truck school graduates and veteran truck drivers can also browse for jobs on recruitment sites such as Careerbuilder.com, Indeed.com, Glassdoor.com, Monster.com, and hiringdriversnow.com.

Types of Tanker Jobs

OTR Tanker Drivers are hired to drive long distances from the point of pickup to the point of delivery. Over-the-road tanker CDL truck drivers can earn as much as $100,000 a year. Many OTR drivers receive a sign-on bonus between $5,000 and $7,500.

Local Tanker Drivers typically drive within the parameters of their hometowns or to nearby towns, so they can return home at the end of their work schedule. These drivers are normally paid by the hour.

Team Tanker Truck Drivers are two drivers, many times husband and wife, who take turns driving the same truck in shifts. Team drivers are paid a certain amount per mile and typically receive a sign-on bonus.

Regional Tank Drivers spend short periods of time away from home since they make deliveries in their respective states, as well as to neighboring states in their region. These drivers are normally paid per mile and receive a sign-on bonus.

Independent Contractors drive their own tankers and usually make close to $100,000 per year because they are willing to drive the long routes, and they pay all the maintenance costs on their trucks.

Owner-Operators either lease their tankers from a trucking company to transport cargo for that company, or they lease their tankers from a trucking company to transport loads for other companies. An Owner-Operator is considered an independent contractor who leases a tanker with the intention of paying it off in two to five years. Most Owner-Operators average $78,000 per year.

Employment Outlook and Salary

A tanker truck driver's pay varies in that multiple factors play a role in how and what a driver gets paid. For example, a tanker driver who works a local route will receive a different pay than that of an OTR driver who frequently makes deliveries to Mexico or Canada. Also, whether a driver works directly for a company or as an independent contractor and the length of the trip determine if a driver is paid hourly, a per-mile rate, or a percentage of the revenue. On average, tanker truck drivers work 45-50 hours per week and earn $40,000 to $50,000 a year. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that Specialized Freight Trucking will see an 11 percent job growth in the next seven years.