How Can I Become an Independent Delivery Driver?

Explore the career requirements for independent delivery drivers. Get the facts about job training, key responsibilities, licensure, salary, and job outlook to determine if this is the right career for you. Schools offering Global Operations & Supply Chain Management degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is an Independent Delivery Driver?

Independent delivery truck drivers are truck drivers who transport cargo and own their own business. They handle all aspects of the business, or employ staff that perform all tasks, such as scheduling shipments and billing for services. Delivery drivers may load and unload their cargo. They may also plan out their route for deliveries based on locations and required time of delivery, or may be given a route to follow.

They are responsible for ensuring all items are delivered safely on time, for following all traffic laws, and for completing any required paperwork related to their deliveries, such as securing signatures to confirm delivery or recording mileage and delivery times. In addition to these tasks, they also perform basic vehicle maintenance, make sure the oil levels are good, fuel the vehicle as needed, and arrange for repairs if they have any mechanical concerns.

Job TrainingPractical business courses highly recommended; truck driving classes for the inexperienced
LicensureCDL (commercial driver's license) may be required
Other RequirementsReliable truck; background check, drug test and clean driving record; company-specific requirements
Key ResponsibilitiesDelivering a variety of freight to assigned locations; loading and unloading transported goods if required; record-keeping and billing
Median Salary (2015) $29,850 for light truck or delivery service drivers*
Job Outlook (2014-2024) 3% for light truck or delivery service drivers*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Are the Requirements For This Career?

An independent delivery driver is also a business owner. This requires handling all aspects of your business, including taxes, budgets and legal matters. You may want to take some introductory business courses or enroll in a business administration bachelor's program to learn more about the responsibilities of business ownership.

Most independent drivers also own a delivery truck. You will need to meet your state's truck licensing, registration and insurance requirements. Depending on the kind of truck you have and the type of freight you carry, a commercial driver's license (CDL) in addition to a CDL endorsement could be necessary.

Enrolling in a truck driver training program might help you prepare for the CDL exam. These programs explore topics like techniques for truck maneuvering, special laws pertaining to heavy-truck operation and technical skills for truck drivers.

Some companies set additional requirements for their delivery service or contract drivers. A clean driving record and some delivery experience could be mandatory. You may also need to pass a criminal background check as well as a drug screening test.

What Are an Independent Truck Driver's Job Responsibilities?

You could be responsible for picking up and delivering various types of freight. You may specialize in delivering one type of freight, such as groceries or flowers; some drivers deliver different types of goods for multiple businesses. Job duties might include loading and unloading freight, using a map or mapping technology, managing schedules to ensure prompt deliveries and keeping delivery logs. In some cases, you may accept payments. You might make deliveries to businesses or customer's homes.

Job opportunities can be found with businesses of all sizes in almost every industry. You may work under contract to provide services for a specified period or work as needed.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Bus drivers and taxi drivers share a lot of similar duties with independent truck drivers. Bus drivers must have a commercial driver's license, meet physical, vision and hearing requirements and complete on-the-job training. Taxi cab drivers, like delivery truck drivers, need a driver's license, a clean driving history, and may need to pass a background check. They may also need a state or city license to work as a taxi cab driver. Bus drivers and taxi drivers use vehicles to transport passengers to and from locations. Bus drivers may have to follow prearranged routes and stay on schedule, like delivery truck drivers.

Bus drivers and taxi drivers also need to perform vehicle maintenance checks, like delivery drivers do, and they may need to report or arrange for mechanical repairs if they have any concerns about the vehicle. They may also need to record mileage and paperwork related to their trips. The primary difference between delivery truck drivers and bus and taxi drivers is that bus and taxi drivers transport people, while delivery truck drivers transport cargo.

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