4 Essential Commercial Truck Driver Skills for Your Resume
When transporting goods from shipyards and farms to local stores and grocers, few elements are more critical than commercial truck drivers. According to statistics gathered by the American Trucking Associations, almost 73% of the nation’s total freight weight is delivered by commercial trucks, which serve as the primary means for the majority of the country to receive critical supplies like food, clothing, and medicine.
Becoming a commercial truck driver requires mastery of several important skills, from being able to safely navigate difficult terrain to knowing how to maintain a vehicle and communicate with dispatchers. Gaining solid commercial truck driver skills isn’t just critical for efficient and safe driving, it’s also key to obtaining a commercial driver’s license (CDL). Completing a commercial driver’s training program can help an individual develop the right truck driver skills for resumes and licenses, which can prepare them for a successful career.
What Is a Commercial Truck Driver?
Commercial truck drivers operate large vehicles, typically tractor-trailers, to move goods and equipment across long distances. Their cargo varies, depending on the industry they work in, but common examples include the following:
- Food products
- Construction materials
- Retail merchandise
- Hazardous materials
- Machines and equipment
Truck driver roles vary depending on the distances they travel in a given time period. Long-haul, or over-the-road, truck drivers cover long distances and travel over state lines, while short-haul, or regional, drivers travel short distances of no more than a few hundred miles. Other factors include the number of additional activities the driver has to perform, such as loading and maintenance, and the number of stops they make in a given workday.
While many commercial truck drivers work for companies, some own and operate their trucks independently as self-owned businesses.
The primary responsibility of a commercial truck driver is to transport their cargo safely to its destination, typically within a given amount of time, while following all laws involving the operation of large vehicles.
Drivers must maintain certain speeds and can only use roads that permit the use of large trucks, requiring drivers to plot out routes beforehand that will meet these demands. Routes are also selected based on the current driving conditions and any potential detours due to difficult weather, terrain, or road closures. Routes may be determined by the driver or the driver’s dispatcher, who acts as a manager.
Cargo can often shift during travel if it’s not secured properly, and employers may hold drivers accountable for damaged goods if items topple or break during transport. To ensure they’re not held accountable for damage outside their control, drivers will often check their cargo before and after transporting it and account for any issues in their logs. Similarly, if the vehicle or its trailer has any issues, drivers must ensure defects are noticed and repaired before returning to travel.
Commercial truck drivers, particularly long-haul drivers, are held to strict laws determining how long they can drive in any setting. They must take breaks after certain lengths of consistent travel to ensure they are rested and can drive properly. Not following these rules may result in financial penalties for their employer. Therefore, drivers must maintain a log book of their hours and mileage.
Commercial truck drivers are often on the road for multiple days, and their trucks may serve as their bedrooms. The distances drivers cover depend on their employer’s needs, and can encompass local, regional, or national routes. Some U.S. drivers may also cross into Canada or Mexico, depending on their routes and their destinations.
Cargo is delivered year-round, and, while safety is a primary factor in choosing driving routes, trucks will often need to travel through difficult terrain, such as in snow or rain, over damaged roads, or on roads with limited mobility.
4 Commercial Truck Driver Skills
Driving commercial trucks requires technical knowledge to avoid delays or dangerous situations. While drivers often have a dispatcher to consult, assistance may be limited in some locations. Mastering key commercial truck driver skills for resume building can help drivers show potential employers that they’re prepared to handle issues as they arise, and qualified to manage a variety of tasks independently.
Here are a few skills that prospective commercial truck drivers should develop to succeed in this career:
1. Mechanical Knowledge
Vehicle problems can cause delays or damage cargo, and can also be dangerous for the driver and others on the road. Drivers should not only know how to spot issues the moment they occur but also what to do to fix them. Knowing how to replace a tire, check the brake fluid, and perform general maintenance can help drivers avoid accidents and delays.
Determining the best route requires strong navigational abilities. While GPS devices can help, they’re not always accurate, and using them can lead to delays if they provide the wrong directions. Understanding how to navigate routes and calculate potential alternatives can help drivers keep their deliveries on schedule.
Drivers need to be clear communicators to be able to connect with dispatchers both to stay aware of new developments, such as delays due to forced maintenance or inclement weather, and to describe any concerns or problems they encounter on the road that they need help with. Drivers who work without a dispatch base can maintain communication channels with other drivers or a nonaffiliated dispatch center so their whereabouts are known. Additionally, keeping a contracted employer informed of delays is critical for self-employed drivers.
4. Safe Driving
Strict rules and regulations help keep both commercial truck drivers and other drivers on the road safe. Commercial truck drivers need to know and adhere to these rules to reduce the chance of collisions or other vehicle damage.
Benefits of a Commercial Truck Driver Training Program
Becoming a commercial truck driver requires earning a state CDL, which verifies the driver has passed both a knowledge and driving test per the state’s requirements. A commercial truck driver diploma program can help prepare aspiring commercial truck drivers for both aspects of the test by giving them hands-on training and classroom instruction to teach them what to expect on the road. These experiences can help individuals develop critical truck driver skills.
Chart Your Route to Your Future Career
To develop key commercial truck driver skills for a resume and to prepare for the CDL exam, consider the benefits of Fortis’ Advanced Tractor Trailer Driving program. With courses covering the basic operation of commercial vehicles, safe driving practices, and vehicle maintenance, this program can help you develop your key commercial truck driving skills in as little as 24 weeks. Learn with instructors in guided simulated or hands-on driving lessons, giving you the edge you need to master your CDL exam.
Discover the skills you can use to succeed at Fortis.