The Different Types of Truck Driving Jobs

Imagine a world without truckers. Sure, there’d be less traffic, but there’d also be a lot of empty shelves. The resulting supply chain issues would make the 2020 TP apocalypse look like a blip on the radar. Unfortunately, this is less plot from a dystopian novel and more a slight exaggeration. Trucking.org estimates we’ll be 160,000 truckers short of a full fleet by 2028. At Savannah Transport, we believe this shortage stems not only from demographic issues but also from a poor understanding of the industry. Most Americans think that all truck driving jobs are the same.

But there’s actually a lot of diversity in our industry. Want to be home in time for dinner? Looking forward to days on end jamming out to your favorite Pearl Jam album? Thrive under tight deadlines? Then, our industry has a job for you. We’ll explore the most popular below.

The Types of Truck Drivers

Dry Van Truckers:

If the ink on your CDL is still drying, you’ll want to start as a dry van hauler. While this job pays less than almost everything else on this list (between $29k and $55k), it offers a lot of side benefits. First, this career requires no experience beyond a typical CDL. This is because dry van trucks, large single-trailer vehicles capable of transporting non-liquid, non-perishable goods, are easy to handle and pose little risk to the driver. In addition to the low barriers to entry, this career also provides ample job opportunities. Finally, unlike with most truck driving jobs, dry van haulers don’t load and unload their own goods. So, for inexperienced drivers or those looking for a lower stress occupation, this is a great place to start.

truck driving jobs

Truck Driving Jobs

Flat Bed Drivers:

If it involves a 50+ foot plane of unenclosed wood or steel, it’s probably a flatbed. While typically used to haul building materials and farm equipment, this type of trailer is capable of carrying almost any large cargo. Because flatbeds are harder to drive, they’re typically left to drivers with a few years under their belt. The reason for this difficulty comes down to loading and balancing. Unlike the truck driving job above, flatbed drivers must load and bind their own cargo. To compensate for the additional tasks, these haulers are well compensated. The average salaries for this truck driving job are between $47,724 and $61,947.

trucking jobs

Truck Driving Jobs

HAZMAT Drivers:

There are plenty of dangerous things that need to get from Point A to Point B, and these truckers are in charge of getting them there. Acids, carbon dioxide, fireworks, and radioactive materials are just a few things you’ll find in a hazardous material hauler’s cargo. Since this truck driving job comes with obvious risk and more paperwork, its average salary–$62,586—towers above other jobs on this list. To qualify as a HAZMAT trucker, you’ll need a specialized endorsement. Requirements for this include being least 21 years old, being capable of passing a background check, and being able to ace a HAZMAT exam. Once you have that stamp on your CDL, feel free to apply for an opening at Savannah Transport. We’re always looking for good drivers.

truck driving jobs

Truck Driving Jobs

Ice Road Truckers (IRT):

These brave souls are responsible for getting supplies to people in colder climates. Think of them as the Togo of truck drivers. These road warriors spend much of their time barreling across frozen lakes and rivers in the Arctic Circle. That means that they not only have to deal with normal road hazards but also cave-ins, white outs, and avalanches. But, if money is your goal, this is the truck driving job for you. Some ice road haulers report pulling in over $250,000 a season. The seasonality of this job also gives you ample free time the rest of the year. Please note that getting one of these jobs isn’t easy and competition is fierce. That’s why, even if there are no requirements, it can be hard to nab a job with an IRT company. You can check out this page for some common ice road trucking myths.

truck driving jobs

Truck Driving Jobs

Auto Haulers:

We’ve all seen them—the multi-layered, zig-zagging trucks with cars piled on them like dominos. Designed to get as many vehicles as possible from one point to another, these specialized trailers are more difficult to maneuver than your typical semi-truck. Unlike dry van truckers, people with this career are responsible for inspecting their cargo for damage and can have their pay deducted for any in-transit damage. They’re also in charge of loading the vehicles. These additional responsibilities are reflected in higher than average wages. Want to learn more about a day in the life of a car hauler?

Check out this interview with Caroline on SmartTrucking.com.

truck driving jobs

Truck Driving Jobs

Tanker Truckers:

One of the most sought-after drivers in the industry, tanker truckers specialize in liquid transport. But, before you get excited, you should know: this job isn’t easy. A sudden change in direction or momentum can send the liquid surging to the sides or back of the truck. This sudden change can slow braking, spin out the trailer, or flip over the whole rig. To compensate for this, tanker drivers must make constant adjustments to their speed and direction. Definitely not a career for the faint of heart, this truck driving job requires a separate CDL endorsement. Amongst the highest paid jobs on this list, a good tanker driver can earn make upwards of $72,000 a year.

tanker driver jobs

Truck Driving Jobs

Refrigerated Freight Truckers:

There are many goods out there that need to stay cold in transit. These include obvious things like milk and ice cream but also medical goods and body parts. The truckers that transport these sensitive goods, often called reefer drivers, are responsible for monitoring the temperature of their cargo and loading it in a way that ensures optimal temperatures. Because their products often have expiration dates, these drivers are always under pressure from tight deadlines. As you might suspect, they’re well compensated for the stress. Though the pay rate varies widely by state, reefer drivers typically earn between $38k and $60k a year. Usually, a Class A CDL is enough to qualify for this truck driving job.

truck driving jobs

LTL Drivers:

Kind of the Tetris players of the transport world, these professionals transport multiple shipments in a single trailer. These loads often include a hodgepodge of materials and cargo types. This truck driving job often means making multiple stops a day and working a typical 8-hour shift. Like flat-bed haulers and reefer drivers, these truckers are responsible for loading and unloading their trucks. Indeed estimates that the average LTL driver makes just under $60k a year.

trucking jobs

Truck Driving Jobs

Oversized Load Truckers:

Can you imagine being responsible for someone’s house? What about transporting a multi-million dollar piece of machinery? If that sounds fun, oversized load hauling might be the career for you. Please note that you need a special license and extra to do this truck driving job, but you get compensated for it. According to WideLoadShipping.com, oversized load truckers earn between $53,125 and $90,000 on average. Those willing to sacrifice home time can easily pull six figures.

trucking jobs

Truck Driving Jobs

Looking For an In-Demand Truck Driving Job With a Great Company?

As you can see, the career opportunities available to truck drivers are almost as diverse as the men and women behind the wheel. From delivering goods between local stores to careening across miles of open ice, there’s something for every driving hotshot. To learn more about how a CDL can open a path to a great future, reach out to your local driving school.
If you’d like to expand your career into HAZMAT trucking, kook no further than Savannah Transport, Inc. With competitive pay and incredible benefits including paid training, licensing, vacation time, and 401(k), our company stands out in an ocean of trucking companies.