Delivery Driver: Job Description and Career Facts

Explore the career requirements for delivery drivers. Get the facts about licensure requirements, job outlook and salary to determine if this is the right career for you. Schools offering Driver Training degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Delivery Driver?

A delivery driver is a person who transports cargo from one location to another. They may be responsible for loading their cargo and unloading it at the destination. Delivery drivers need to perform basic vehicle maintenance, and do things like check the oil, lights and tires regularly. They also have to report any mechanical concerns with the vehicle, and are responsible for keeping their vehicle clean. They may work as light truck drivers and transport packages within a city, county or region on a route that can be completed within their work day. Heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers operate vehicles that weigh in excess of 26,000 pounds when combined with the weight of the cargo and passengers. They may transport goods over longer distances.

Training Required Training program for commercial driver's license (CDL)
Key Responsibilities Safely pick up, transport & unload cargo, navigation, log hours
Licensure Commercial driver's license (CDL) for certain vehicles/cargo, background check, fingerprinting
Job Growth (2018-2028) 5% (heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers)*
4% (light truck or delivery services drivers)*
Median Salary (2018) $43,680 (heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers)*
$32,810 (light truck or delivery services drivers)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Will I Need a Commercial Driver's License?

You can usually transport goods in panel trucks, vans and lightweight vehicles with a regular driver's license. However, if your deliveries include hazardous materials or you drive larger vehicles, federal law mandates that you obtain a commercial driver's license (CDL). Depending on your load, you might need to receive a special endorsement by undergoing a background check and fingerprinting through the U.S. Transportation Security Administration (www.dot.gov).

How Do I Get a CDL?

You'll need to pass written and skills tests through your state before earning a CDL. You might also need to test for special endorsements, such as for passengers or multiple trailers. Regulations state that you'll need to have a clean driving record, provide any relevant medical information and you might have to prove your U.S. citizenship.

To take the skills test, you'll need to demonstrate a proficiency with handling a certain type of vehicle. Often, you can receive training directly from an employer, though several community colleges and vocational schools also offer postgraduate training programs. You'll usually learn on a variety of types of vehicles and prepare to test for your CDL.

Are There Other Requirements?

Aside from transporting freight from one location to another, you'll need to comply with company, state and federal regulations. For long-hauling, you'll need to map your travel route to ensure that you arrive at your destination at a specific time. Federal law requires that you log your hours and rest stops, as well as stop at any weigh stations if you're driving a large vehicle. If you own your own vehicle, you'll also need to make sure you have sufficient insurance to cover you, your truck and possibly your freight.

What Salary Could I Earn?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported salaries in 2018 for light and heavy delivery truck drivers (www.bls.gov). Those who delivered goods in smaller pick-ups, panel trucks or vans under 26,000 pounds earned a median wage of $32,810, and the majority were employed by direct courier services. The BLS stated that drivers of large rigs and tractor-trailers made a median salary of $43,680 and often worked for general and specialized freight trucking companies. BLS data showed that the highest-paid light truck delivery drivers worked for the postal service, while the highest-paid heavy truck delivery drivers worked for motion picture and video industries.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Bus drivers and postal service workers have professions with similarities to the work of a delivery driver. They all have the same basic duty of picking up and delivering their assigned cargo. They all perform basic vehicle maintenance and all have to keep their vehicle clean. They also need a clean driving record, and may be required to meet physical guidelines and demonstrate they have good vision and hearing, as well as complete on-the-job training. Bus drivers need a commercial driver's license, which is also required to be a heavy or tractor-trailer truck driver. The key difference between commercial drivers and bus drivers is that bus drivers transport people rather than cargo. Postal service workers transport mail.

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