Class B Commercial Driver: Job Duties, Employment Outlook, and Training Requirements

Class B commercial drivers operate delivery trucks, dump trucks, mini-buses and other commercial vehicles used on local or long distance routes. See what the training requirements are to obtain a commercial driver's license (CDL), and get information on job growth expectations in this professsion. Schools offering Supply Chain Management degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Are the Job Duties of a Class B Commercial Driver?

A Class B commercial driver's license permits one to drive single commercial vehicles that weigh more than 26,001 pounds and to drive such vehicles with a towed weight of no more than 10,000 pounds. This also applies to trucks carrying hazardous materials. As a driver, your main responsibilities would be to pick up freight at one location and transport it to another.

Your duties as a Class B driver could vary by the industry in which you work. In addition to loading and unloading cargo, you might fill out paperwork and sign receipts, utilize electronic delivery tracking systems and communicate with dispatchers about schedule or route changes. If you become a light truck driver, you'll also have industry-specific duties, such as sales or customer service. You'll generally work a standard 40-hour week; however, it is common to work in excess of 50 hours. Your schedule could include early mornings or late nights, particularly if you drive a grocery goods truck.

What Is the Projected Employment Outlook?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, job opportunities for all truck drivers were expected to grow by nine percent between 2008-2018, which was about normal for all U.S. industries (www.bls.gov). Specifically, jobs in the heavy and tractor-trailer truck industry were projected to grow by 13%, and those for light delivery truck drivers by four percent. It was predicted that nearly 292,000 total jobs would be established within that decade.

Growth was attributed to an expanding economy and the resultant need for goods. The BLS reported that long-haul truck drivers would have the best job prospects, but competition would be heavy for truck driving positions with local carriers. As of 2010, heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers who worked for general freight trucking companies earned average annual salaries of $41,100, while light delivery truck drivers in the same industry earned $36,600 per year.

What Training Requirements Must I Satisfy?

Your main basic requirement for a Class B commercial driver position is a commercial driver's license (CDL). Depending on the state you live in, you may be required to complete a formal truck driving course before receiving a CDL. Many technical schools and community colleges offer driver's training courses for the Class B CDL. You may also wish to pursue a truck driver training program that's approved by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). PTDI-approved courses aren't available in all states, so the organization offers a checklist on its website for you to evaluate training programs in your area (www.ptdi.org).

Class B commercial driver's license training programs cover air brakes, vehicle control, gear shifting and inspection techniques. Training courses should also cover maneuvering large vehicles on city streets, highways and in parking areas, as well as covering the information included on the written part of a driving test, which can vary by state.

To qualify for a CDL, you must meet the minimum age requirement of 18 or 21 years, take a physical examination, possess a clean driving record and pass a written examination on regulations and rules. You'll also have to demonstrate the ability to safely operate a commercial-sized truck.

Upon completion of formal training and securing a job, you'll most likely also participate in a brief, informal employer-sponsored training program that focuses on company policies, truck loading and operation and hazardous materials handling, if applicable.

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