Rumors of a trucking driver shortage have been common for years, but the real problem isn’t a shortage of drivers: it’s a retention problem. Drivers start off in entry level jobs and then start looking for their next job in the industry with better pay, better hours, and more interesting work.
What Does a Tanker Truck Driver Do?
You’ve likely seen tanker trucks on the highway or around town and have assumed they only held gasoline. These aluminum, steel, or fiberglass reinforced trailers are used to haul oil, vinegar, alcohol, and even milk and fruit juice. The driver may have a long distance or local route depending on the company and the driver’s experience
A job as a tanker driver comes with a significant amount of responsibility beyond the drive. In addition to hauling the trailer, some tanker drivers are responsible for filling up tanks or emptying them. Sanitation and safety are very important with tanker driving, and delivery procedures often need to be documented and followed with absolute precision.
A tanker truck driver may work a set schedule or be on duty 24/7/365 days a year. Even if they’re not on call, many drivers are required to work nights, weekends, and holidays. And the job may be physically demanding too. When delivering the cargo, the driver will need to bend, stoop, kneel and climb on and off elevated surfaces.
Why Consider Becoming a Tanker Truck Driver?
Demand for gas dropped substantially at the beginning of the pandemic, but once it recovered, gas stations desperate for product found themselves unable to get what they needed because there weren’t enough trained tanker truck drivers. Even now, a fact sheet from the National Tanker Truck Carriers shows that for every nine tanker truck jobs posted, they’re only able to hire one driver.
“The driver shortage has hit the specialized segment of petroleum drivers especially hard. And the COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated the issue,” according to the fact sheet.
Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy, said in a CNBC interview, “The problem is getting that gasoline the last leg of its journey from a local terminal to the gas station, and we’re starting to see some of these delivery delays.”
While there’s no shortage of oil and production hasn’t been impacted, delays getting the gas to stations will increasingly become a problem, according to experts.
How Do I Become a Tanker Truck Driver?
The good news is becoming a tanker truck driver doesn’t require a lot more education or training. In addition to having a Class-A CDL, drivers who want to haul tanker trailers need an additional endorsement. An N endorsement is required for any driver hauling more than 1,000 gallons of any liquid, and you must pass a qualifying exam to earn this certification. The X endorsement combines the N endorsement with a HAZMAT certification, allowing the driver to haul hazardous liquids, such as gasoline. In addition to a qualifying exam, this endorsement also requires a TSA background check.
There are no required educational programs for tanker or HAZMAT endorsements but some CDL schools do offer tanker endorsement and HAZMAT endorsement classes. There are also practice tests available, including the tanker endorsement and the HAZMAT endorsement practice tests on CDL Career Now.
Common Requirements for a Tanker Driver Job:
- Valid Class A CDL
- Clean driving record
- Hazmat/tanker endorsement
- TWIC certification or willingness to obtain one
- Medical examiner certificate
- Pass a physical ability test
- Ability to read, speak, and comprehend the English language
Once you’ve earned either required endorsement and you’re ready to make your next move, search for jobs near you and train for a career as a tanker truck driver.