Tanker truck drivers have adventurous and lucrative jobs. They often spend a lot of time on the road transporting their loads from one destination to another. While there are a lot of responsibilities for tanker drivers, their job is often interesting and rewarding.
In this article, we discuss what a tanker truck driver is and does, how to become a tanker truck driver, the skills, salary, job outlook and workplace environment for tanker truck drivers and answer some FAQs about tanker truck drivers.
When hiring managers and human resources professionals are writing job descriptions for new positions, they develop a list of tasks that the new employee will perform in the role. The job description also includes requirements that candidates should possess before applying for the position because they indicate that the individual has the experience the employer needs to ensure they can perform the duties of the position. When an employee will need to drive as part of their job, a driver’s license is often within the list of requirements.
In this article, we share some positions that require a driver’s license for hiring, in ascending order by national average salary and with the primary duties for each.
Tanker truck drivers are specialized truck drivers who transport liquids or gases in specialized trailers.
The job requires at least a GED or high school diploma and a commercial driver’s license (CDL).
Aside from basic licenses for driving trucks, there are six endorsements truck drivers can earn to transport liquids, gases or hazardous materials.
13 jobs that require a driver’s license
There are many positions that require a driver’s license in order for you to complete your tasks. Here are some of the jobs where you must be able to drive a vehicle:
1. Taxi driver
Primary duties: A taxi driver picks up and transports individuals from one location to their destination. They work with a dispatching office to drive to the pickup location, take directions from customers, operate in-vehicle GPS systems to find the best route to drive customers to their destination and may engage in conversation with the people in their vehicle. Taxi drivers also process payments within the vehicle and may need to make stops along the route per customers’ requests.
Primary duties: A courier is responsible for delivering mail or other documents to people, businesses and other groups. They may follow a route and will need to confirm addresses to ensure they’re delivering the correct item to the appropriate location. Couriers get recipients’ signatures on packages to confirm delivery and may work for a mail delivery service or law office to deliver important legal documents to individuals and the courts.
3. Home health aide
Primary duties: A home health aide is responsible for visiting a patient’s home to provide care for them in a comfortable setting. They assist patients with doing things like bathing, dressing, brushing teeth, going to the bathroom and performing other grooming needs. Home health aides also perform light housekeeping duties, run errands for their patients and may take their patients to appointments, grocery shopping and more.
4. Parking attendant
Primary duties: A parking attendant is responsible for orderly parking or directing cars within a lot, along the street or in a garage. They also monitor the parking facility to make sure it’s clear of any criminal activity, issue tickets for vehicles that have parked without following the rules of the lot and process parking lot payments when drivers leave the location. Some parking attendants may work for a company to provide professional valet services, which involves parking customers’ vehicles, then collecting them from an assigned spot when customers are ready to leave.
5. Refuse collector
Primary duties: A refuse collector is responsible for driving along a route to collect trash and recyclables. They transport their collection to the appropriate location, whether that’s a landfill or recycling center. In addition to using the equipment on their truck, refuse collectors may also need to get out of the vehicle to lift certain trash bins by hand into the truck.
6. Bus driver
Primary duties: A bus driver transports individuals on a bus from a pickup spot to their destination. They follow a specific route, make sure that all riders are adhering to the safety measures in place on the vehicle, pay special attention to any road or weather conditions that may impact the operations of the vehicle and may perform basic vehicle maintenance to make sure the bus remains in operational order. Bus drivers may work for the city or find employment with a school district to transport students.
Primary duties: A paramedic is responsible for responding to an emergency that occurs outside of a healthcare facility. They provide medical services such as CPR, first aid, wound bandaging and other support to individuals who are either sick or injured. Paramedics make an on-scene determination if the medical emergency warrants that the patient be transported to a nearby urgent care center or hospital.
Primary duties: A chauffeur is responsible for driving passengers from one location to another or on a specified route if the passenger has to visit multiple places. They may also need to provide a certain level of customer service and make sure to maintain their vehicle so passengers have a pleasant experience.
9. Police officer
Primary duties: A police officer is protects their community and all citizens. They may perform tasks like responding to emergency calls, performing traffic stops, investigating a case and patrolling areas that may have some criminal activity. Police officers also arrest individuals who are breaking the law, direct traffic and document their work in case files so their superiors are aware of their daily actions.
10. Delivery driver
Primary duties: A delivery driver is responsible for distributing packages to customers. They pick up their day’s delivery items from a warehouse, store or other location and follow a route to make sure everyone receives their expected items within the day. Delivery drivers may need to get a recipient to sign off on receiving their item and enter key delivery details into a system to show they performed the delivery.
11. Truck driver
Primary duties: A truck driver picks up materials and other goods from one location and delivers them to another. They visit warehouses and other distribution centers to load items onto their trucks and follow a designated route to deliver the goods to what is usually another distribution center or store. Truck drivers may need to transport items within the city and state or across the country over a longer period of time.
12. Car sales executive
Primary duties: A car sales executive is responsible for selling cars to customers. They work with customers to understand their needs, identify the vehicles the customer may be interested in and explain the features and benefits of the vehicle. Car sales executives also take customers on test drives, get their loan started, help them fill out purchase paperwork and make sure the process for their vehicle title transfer begins.
13. Tow truck driver
Primary duties: A tow truck driver is responsible for towing other vehicles to a specific destination which may include an auto mechanic shop, car dealership or tow yard. They also respond to calls of individuals stuck on the side of the road from a vehicle breakdown and assist customers with getting back to a secure location.
What is a tanker truck driver?
A tanker truck driver is a specialized type of long-haul truck driver who hauls gasses or liquids in small or large tanker trucks. A long-haul truck driver is a professional who transports goods or materials throughout the entire country, often traveling routes with thousands of miles. Tanker trucks can be small for light duty or enormous for heavy duty loads, and they transport many kinds of gasses and liquids, like hazardous chemicals or food-grade beverages. Tanker trucks also occasionally transport dry goods like grain.
What does a tanker truck driver do?
Tanker truck drivers have many duties besides delivering their materials on time and safely operating a large vehicle. Here are some key responsibilities and duties for a tanker truck driver:
Make frequent stops: Some drivers have to stop several times to fill up their tank, for example, a milk tanker often stops at several farms before the tank is full.
Plan routes and schedules: Once a driver knows their destination, they have to determine how many miles they can drive each day while considering weight limits, weather, traffic and hazardous materials regulations.
Inspect and maintain vehicles: Tanker drivers must ensure they securely load transport materials, inspect their tanker vehicle before and after loading, conduct regular vehicle maintenance and provide proof of delivery.
Coordinate with dispatchers: Most drivers work with logistics professionals to plan routes, provide delivery timeline updates, log information about pickups and deliveries, calculate total mileage and maintain delivery schedules.
Maintain records: Drivers often need to keep detailed records about pickups, deliveries, tolls paid, expenses, miles driven, number of stops and proof of delivery.
How to become a tanker truck driver
Here are the steps for becoming a tanker truck driver:
1. Get a state driver’s license
Before you can advance to specialized types of driver’s licenses, you need to start with a basic state license. You can contact the local branch of your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) or look on your state’s DMV website for the requirements to get a driver’s license in your state. Requirements vary by state and by the age of the person applying for a license. Once you have a state driver’s license, you can legally drive automobiles, like cars and trucks, and delivery trucks.
2. Meet the requirements
Employers for long-haul trucking, including tanker trucking, typically require their employees to have a high school diploma or GED equivalent. They also often require a drug test, alcohol test and a physical exam. Long-haul truck drivers must be at least 21 years of age for interstate driving. Drivers must also meet the requirements for and earn their Commercial Driver’s License (CDL).
3. Get a commercial driver’s license
Getting your CDL requires the successful completion of an accredited truck driving school. Truck driving schools teach their students not only how to drive large, heavy and placarded vehicles, but they also teach their students regulatory details to pass licensing exams. The classroom and behind-the-wheel training prepares you for the three part CDL exam which includes a road test, basic controls test and vehicle inspection test. Divers must also pass a hearing and sight exam with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulation.
You can find CDL training programs at community colleges or private truck driving schools. The programs vary in length from several months to a year. Some programs offer tuition assistance. CDL students can hold a Commercial Learner’s Permit (CLP), usually for a period of up to six months, to get experience on the road under the supervision of a CDL licensed driver.
4. Earn endorsements
Once you have the basic CDL license, you can earn endorsements that qualify you to drive special categories of vehicles. Each CDL endorsement has its own requirements, but typically includes passing a written test and a skills test. The endorsements requested by employers may vary depending on the type of tanker truck driving you are driving, but endorsements H, N or X are typical. The most common special endorsements are:
H endorsement: Mandatory to operate vehicles that contain hazardous materials. Candidates must take a written knowledge test
N endorsement: Required for CDL drivers to operate a tanker vehicle that transports gasses or liquids
X endorsement: This combination endorsement is for both hazardous materials and tanker vehicles
P endorsement: Allows you to operate a vehicle with 16 or more seats, including the driver
S endorsement: Required for operating a school bus
T endorsement: Allows CDL drivers to tow a double or triple trailer
3. Seek tanker truck employment
There are many ways to seek employment as a tanker truck driver. Some ways you can seek employment include:
National job boards: There are national websites that post job openings.
Recruiting services: There are for-pay organizations that provide professional recruiting services.
Associations: There are professional truck driving organizations and associations with job boards.
Schools: There are truck driving schools that have career counseling and job boards.
4. Complete orientation
The majority of long-haul employers require their new employees to go through Driver Finishing Programs, which are proprietary, in-house training programs. On average, these programs take three to four weeks and teach new drivers about the equipments, materials and vehicles the company uses. The company assigns a licensed mentor to oversee the new employee’s training.
5. Gain experience
Some long-haul employers prefer for their new hires to have two or more years of related experience. The amount of experience you have can affect your hourly wage or yearly salary. The most common way to gain experience is to be a delivery truck driver. Besides driving experience, this type of on the road experience provides learning tips, equipment improvements, shows the value of getting endorsements and encourages networking with other drivers about job openings.
Skills needed to become a tanker truck driver
Hauling liquids takes excellent and specific driving skills. There are many hard skills and soft skills that tanker truck drivers need, including:
Punctuality: Time management is key to reliably delivering loads on time and building a good reputation.
Customer service: Drivers must interact with clients in a professional manner during stops and other times they’re not on the road.
Record keeping: Organization, attention to detail and current knowledge about regulations and requirements are necessary for accurate record keeping.
Good driving record: Safety and experience help build an excellent driving record and show your ability to safely operate a tanker vehicle.
Mental stamina: The long hours of driving can be mentally and psychically challenging, so mental stamina is indispensable.
Workplace environment for tanker truck drivers
Daily life for a tanker driver can vary greatly depending on the types of loads carried and locations of stops. A tanker driver carrying milk may spend the day traveling rural roads to farms, whereas a tanker driver carrying hazardous materials may spend the day traveling interstate highways to factories. Truck drivers spend the majority of their time driving inside the comfort of their cabs. There are different types of tanker truck driving positions that can affect how much time a trucker spends driving, they are:
Regional driver: The trucker drives routes closer to home with little or no overnight stays.
Over-the-road driver: The trucker drives longer routes with longer stretches of time away from home.
Dedicated drivers: The trucker drives back and forth to one specific customer.
Intermodal driver: The trucker drives back and forth to train stations picking up and dropping off loads.
Salary and job outlook for tanker truck drivers
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) is a collective and trustworthy source for career outlook information. While the BLS doesn’t have information specifically for tanker truck drivers, it does have information for heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers, which includes tanker truck drivers along with other types of truck drivers. According to the BLS, heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers can expect an employment growth rate of 2% from 2019 to 2029. This growth rate is a little slower than the average 4% growth rate for all occupations.
The salary for a tanker truck driver varies depending on the level of education, amount of experience, geographic location, specific industry and job market demand. Some commercial truckers get paid per load on a contractual basis and others get paid per mile at a set rate. In the United States, the average salary for a tanker truck driver is $80,727 per year.
FAQ about tanker truck drivers
Here are some frequently asked questions about tanker trick drivers:
Is it dangerous to drive tanker trucks?
Driving a tanker truck does have additional hazards because of the unique nature of their liquid loads. Partially full tanks are especially risky when stopping, starting or turning because the force of the shifting liquid can cause the truck to roll or push forward. If the tanker is carrying a hazmat load, extra regulations and safety precautions to follow to prevent any dangerous situations. Common hazmat loads include gasoline, diesel, propane, chlorine, argon, carbon dioxide and sulfuric acid. These hazmat loads are often highly flammable, can cause skin burns or cause lung damage if inhaled.
Are there different types of CDL?
Yes, there are three classes of CDL:
Class A CDL: Includes owing vehicles and trailers over 26,001 pounds like semi-trucks, tanker trucks, truck and trailer combinations, flatbeds, livestock carriers, and most Class B and Class C vehicles.
Class B CDL: Includes single vehicles without trailers over 26,000 pounds like straight trucks, large busses, segmented buses, box trucks, tractor-trailers, dump trucks and some Class C vehicles.
Class C CDL: Includes single or towing vehicles less than 26,001 pounds like vehicles with 16 or more passengers, buses, small tanker trucks, small hazmat vehicles and double or triple trailers.
Are there CDL restrictions?
Yes, some drivers may have a restriction code placed on their CDL licenses. These restrictions get placed on your CDL license if you did not practice a particular skill during a skills test or if the driver failed that particular skills test. The most common restrictions are:
E restriction: Prohibits CDL drivers from operating a manual transmission vehicle.
L restriction: Prohibits CDL drivers from operating a full air brake system on any vehicle.
M restriction: Indicates a CDL driver can only operate a school bus, Class B or Class C vehicle.
N restriction: Indicates a CDL driver can only operate a school bus or Class C vehicle.
O restriction: Prohibits CDL drivers from operating a Class A vehicle with a fifth wheel connection.
V restriction: Indicates a CDL driver has a medical variance, like diabetes, seizures or hearing or vision impairments.
Z restriction: Prohibits CDL drivers from operating a full air brake system on a commercial motor vehicle.