Even while many industries were shutting down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the roads were opening up for Heavy and Tractor-Trailer Truck Drivers in the state. Already ranked as the #2 occupation in demand in Minnesota in 2019, truck drivers have remained in the top 10 for new job postings throughout the month of May 2020.
Heavy and Tractor Trailer Truck Drivers operate a tractor-trailer combination or a truck with a capacity of at least 26,000 pounds Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW). In addition to driving, truck drivers also need to be able to perform basic vehicle maintenance tasks such as adding fuel or oil and making minor repairs, and have to be vigilant about checking their vehicles to ensure that mechanical, safety, and emergency equipment is in good working order. They must also maintain detailed logs of working hours following applicable state and federal regulations, and also need to plan or adjust routes based on changing conditions, using computer equipment or maps. Drivers may also be required to load and unload their trucks.
Truck drivers are most likely to work in general and specialized freight trucking, both local and long distance; but many truck drivers also work in wholesale trade, manufacturing, and construction delivering products and materials to work sites as needed. Many truck drivers are also self-employed, and own their own trucks and set up their own routes.
Because of the size of the vehicles and safety requirements of the job, all truck drivers must have a commercial driver’s license (CDL). To apply for a commercial learner’s permit before getting a CDL, workers must hold a Minnesota driver’s license, pass knowledge tests, provide proof of citizenship or permanent residency, and a medical certificate. Drivers must then take and pass a Road Skills Test, which consists of a pre-trip inspection, basic control skills, and the road test. Truck drivers are also subject to alcohol and drug testing requirements, and even offenses that occur in a noncommercial vehicle (car, pickup, motorcycle, etc.) may lead to disqualification of a CDL.
Beyond a CDL, there are no other educational requirements for truck drivers – nearly two-thirds of current truck drivers have a high school diploma or less. Just 13% have an associate’s degree or higher, and about 24% have some college, but no degree. Because they’re working with people, truck drivers need customer service and communication skills. More importantly, they need good vision, hearing and reaction time, the ability to watch gauges, dials, and display screens, and multilimb coordination – being able to use their arms and legs together to control the truck.
Half of all Heavy and Tractor-Trailer Truck Driver jobs in Minnesota pay between $20.50 and $28.76 per hour, with an average hourly wage of $24.68. Despite the coronavirus, demand remains high across the state. There were more than 2,000 job vacancies for truck drivers in the fourth quarter of 2019, and it ranked within the top 10 job postings in May 2020. In return for higher wages, their demanding schedules can keep them away from home for days or weeks at a time. Work hours, including breaks, are highly regulated, and drivers often work nights, weekends, and holidays.
To learn more about becoming a Truck Driver, go to your account dashboard on CareerForceMN.com, select the My Goals and Experience Tab and then select Heavy and Tractor-Trailer Truck Driver as a career goal. If you don’t have an account on CareerForceMN.com, sign up for your free account today!
To read about Bunni who successfully made a transition from working in a coffee shop to becoming a long distance truck driver, thanks to CareerForce, check out Bunni's story.
If you are interested in more information about opportunities in truck driving, check out Jobs in Demand here on the CareerForceMN.com website for wage ranges, educational and training requirements, current open positions in Minnesota and more.
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