What they do
A truck driver drives trucks for commercial freight and transport purposes. Truck drivers assemble, load, secure, and unload vehicles, transport goods and materials, and perform routine vehicle inspections and maintenance. They may be an owner driver or drive company-owned vehicles. Truck drivers transport and handle a wide variety of loads. Some truck drivers transport food, while others may transport hazardous or pressurised materials. There are truck drivers that use small vehicles and others that drive very large road trains. All truck drivers, regardless of truck size or load type, are responsible for the stability of their load and require one or more special licences.
A truck driver can be expected to work irregular hours, make early starts and spend days away from home making deliveries all over WA and interstate.
Before beginning a trip, paper work is required to be filled out correctly. The truck driver is also required to maintain a log book detailing hours of driving, fatigue breaks, fuel consumption and reports of accidents or any problems with the vehicle. In addition to this administrative work, a truck driver needs to check brakes, oil, tyres, electrical systems, water, hydraulics and air, prior to each trip.
Tools and technologies
A core piece of technology used in the trucking industry is the Global Positioning System (GPS). Not only can drivers use a GPS to get to their destination, trucks can be tracked so that customers can be told when to expect their delivery, and management can keep an eye on progress.
Another important piece of technology for truck drivers is the road relay system that keeps drivers informed of the correct matching of the engine and road speeds to preferred power output and fuel economy. This technology assists truck drivers to improve their driving practices, which can save companies thousands of dollars in fuel costs annually.
Truck drivers are responsible for the stability of the load they carry and are often required to assist with loading and unloading cargo. Therefore, they need to know how to use tarpaulins, ropes, tie down straps and moving equipment to secure or move cargo.
How do I become one?
Education and training
It is possible to work as a truck driver without any formal qualifications and get training on the job.
You can also undertake a traineeship in driving operations (level 3) or harvesting and haulage (level 3). The traineeships usually take 24 months to complete.
Apprenticeships and traineeships
As an apprentice or trainee, you enter into a formal training contract with an employer, enabling you to complete training towards a nationally recognised qualification. You spend time working and learning practical skills on the job and you spend some time undertaking structured training with a registered training provider.
You can do an apprenticeship or traineeship if you are a school-leaver, re-entering the workforce or as an adult or mature-aged person wishing to change careers. You can even begin your apprenticeship or traineeship while you're still at school.
If you are still at school you can access an apprenticeship through your school. Talk to your school's VET Co-ordinator to start your training now through VET in Schools. If you are no longer at school you can apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship and get paid while you learn and work.
Required registration and licensing
To work as a truck driver in Western Australia you will need to obtain from the Department of Transport the appropriate truck licence class for the type of truck you wish to drive, as well as any additional licences for carrying special loads such as dangerous substances.