Transporting petroleum or propane from one destination to another requires a great deal of skill and knowledge. Most domestic transports are done with a tanker truck. Tanker drivers specialize in the loading and unloading of liquid or gas. Many of these substances are hazardous materials and require special care and handling.
General Job Duties
A tanker driver is responsible for the pick-up and the drop-off of a specified liquid or gas. The driver must keep the truck properly maintained and must follow all safe driving regulations. A tanker driver has the ability to work independently as an independent contractor or can be part of a team of drivers for a large company. Strong communication skills are also needed.
Depending on the type of liquid or gas that is carried in the tanker, the tanker driver may be required to attend Hazmat training. The U.S. department of Transportation mandates that drivers who transport hazardous materials learn the proper procedures for loading and unloading the material. The training also includes an accident management course, proper labeling of the tank and a review of the correct way to fill out hazardous materials paperwork. Some companies will offer paid Hazmat training and an increase in pay for the certification.
Commercial Driver’s License (CDL)
A CDL, or Commercial Driver’s License, is required for any person driving a vehicle that is over 26,000 lbs. A tanker driver must have a CDL Class A license. The class A license is structured for large trucks and semi-trailers that weigh over 26,000 lbs and tow over 10,001 lbs. A class B CDL is available for smaller trucks that weigh less than 26,000 lbs but this license is not valid for driving a tanker.
The working conditions for a tanker driver can be stressful, but deliveries are often on a more regular schedule than any other type of delivery. Most tanker deliveries involve local stops and are not considered for Over the Road (OTR) work. The job can require work weeks that consist of more than 40 hours or shift work. A tanker driver must also be physically able to load and unload the tanker.
A tanker driver is most often well compensated for his work. The yearly salary can range from $50,000 to $100,000 depending on the extent of the driver’s experience and the number of hours that are worked. Overtime is often well compensated and most companies will also offer a benefits package. Larger companies may also offer a sign-on bonus.