What Is the Job Description of a Refrigerated Truck Driver?

Research what it takes to become a refrigerated truck driver. Learn about the training and licensure requirements, job outlook, job responsibilities and salary information to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Driver Training degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Refrigerated Truck Driver?

Refrigerated truck drivers transport perishable cargo that must be kept in a vehicle with a refrigerated cargo section. Refrigerated truck drivers perform basic vehicle maintenance and are responsible for the cleanliness of their vehicles. They may load and unload their cargo, and they may also need to keep records of their shipments. In addition to following all traffic laws and using established routes so that deliveries are made on schedule, refrigerated truck drivers are also responsible for monitoring refrigeration levels to ensure that the cargo will not spoil in transit.

Education Required Truck driving program
Key Responsibilities Safely transport freight, monitor equipment, load & unload freight,
Licensure Commercial driver's license (CDL)
Job Growth (2014-2024) 5%* (for heavy truck and tractor-trailer drivers)
Average Salary (2015) $42,500* (for heavy truck and tractor-trailer drivers)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Duties of a Refrigerated Truck Driver

The main responsibility of a refrigerated truck driver is to safely transport freight that must be kept under refrigerated conditions. This involves driving safely and monitoring the freight throughout the trip. Your truck is equipped with temperature gauges, allowing you to keep track of the temperature in your trailer. If the temperature drops too low or goes too high, you must react quickly to protect the freight from becoming ruined or unsafe for consumption.

You may be responsible for loading and unloading freight, as well as mapping out your route. Job duties may also include keeping logs of miles traveled, gas consumption, trailer temperatures and stops you make. It is also your job to ensure you are complying with weight restrictions on the roadways you travel and other regulations related to driving commercial trucks on public roadways.

What Requirements Must I Meet?

The main requirement for a position as a refrigerated truck driver is to obtain a commercial drivers license (CDL). Requirements for a CDL are set by federal and state regulations, but typically involve written and driving tests. These tests are often comprehensive and require knowledge of laws, policies and truck operation. Due to the complexity of the testing standards, most people attend a truck driving school in preparation of obtain their CDL.

Truck driving programs offer classroom instruction, which may cover legal requirements for drivers, speed limit and freight laws, truck maintenance and safety procedures. Programs also offer driving instruction, which gives you a chance to get behind the wheel and drive a truck in a variety of road conditions.

In addition to a CDL, most employers require you to pass a drug screening, background check and have a clean driving record. Some employers require previous truck driving experience or may offer their own CDL training courses and require no experience. Most companies also have a minimum age restriction and require passing a physical examination.

What Is the Job Outlook?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the expected job growth from 2014-2024 for heavy truck and tractor-trailer drivers is 5%, which could be influenced by economic growth (www.bls.gov). On the other hand, if economic growth doesn't occur, job growth could be stunted. The best job opportunities, according to the BLS, were in long-haul positions and the oil and gas industry. The BLS also projects that grocery stores, which often use refrigerated trucks, offer the most secure employment opportunities for drivers.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Tractor-trailer truck drivers and delivery truck drivers perform many of the same duties as refrigerated truck drivers. All of these drivers are responsible for basic vehicle maintenance. They must all report any mechanical concerns. They may all need to load or unload cargo, and maintain documentation of their shipments. They also all need to follow traffic laws and use predetermined routes for their deliveries. The key difference tractor-trailer truck drivers and delivery truck drivers have from refrigerator truck drivers is that they do not transport cargo that needs to be kept in a refrigerated compartment. Delivery truck drivers also use vehicles that are lighter than the vehicles that tractor-trailer truck drivers and refrigerator truck drivers use. Tractor-trailer truck drivers and delivery truck drivers need to have a clean driving record, and may need to pass a background check prior to entering their career field. Delivery truck drivers learn through on-the-job training. Tractor-trailer truck drivers must complete truck driving school and on-the-job training, and they must also have a commercial driver's license.

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