Driving a truck is a mix of physical and mental skills that most people don’t possess. With some professional training, it can be an excellent job prospect.
Road freight transport plays a huge role for both the manufacturing and retail sectors. It's moving raw product from A to B, as well as being an important part of the process of getting end products to customers. Road freight operators or heavy truck drivers deliver the goods anywhere in the world.
Volumes of freight have increased considerably over the years. This increase in freight has led to an increase in demand for heavy truck drivers. This is a work sector that is constantly looking for qualified people.
Trucks are used to transport a wide range of goods – from construction materials to livestock to heavy machinery, large quantities of liquids and in some cases hazardous substances.
It is a job that can earn truck drivers anywhere between the minimum wage, going up to $30 an hour. The scale of pay is dependent on what the freight is, the distance it has to be taken over, how hazardous it is, and the level of experience of the driver.
After truck driving lessons, as a heavy truck driver, you may be employed by one of the manufacturing industries, retail stores, or freight distributors. So, are you looking to become a forklift driver, or you have a small fleet of forklifts and are looking to employ drivers? Here are the requirements for a forklift driver.
What skills and competencies should you have?
This is a difficult job but, with the right skills, you can be quite successful at it. It is a job that requires you to have solid physical and mental competencies.
Physically it is essential that you have good hearing and vision. Your vision should be 20/40, even if it is with the help of glasses, and you must have a field of vision of 70 degrees in both eyes.
You should not be colour blind. IAs a heavy truck driver, it also vital to have a good sense of space and depth and space. This is particularly useful when it comes to negotiating tight car parks.
Excellent communication skills are an absolute must. Being able to read and speak English well enough to comprehend road signs as well as to prepare your reports, and communicate with other truckies, your colleagues, law enforcement officers as well as the general public, if and when needed, is essential.
Besides what truck driving courses can teach you, experience definitely counts. You will be hard-pressed to find people entering the field right out of school. Most heavy truck drivers already have experience in similar professions. Having driving experience in the armed forces is usually considered a major asset.
If you are willing to work your way up the hierarchy, you could consider learning the tricks of the trade in a shipping warehouse. Learn how to load and unload freight, get your forklift licence, and develop your spatial awareness.
Why do you need to attend a truck driving course?
Driving a heavy truck is a skill that requires master driver training. This is not just for the ability to drive the truck but to deal with all aspects of the job. There are four basic driver’s licenses for heavy truck drivers.
Your choice of license must be based on the size and capacity of the truck you are driving, the goods you will be transporting and laws. You will need driver’s licence and must have a cleaning driving record.
The four licenses in NZ are:
- Class 2 – medium rigid vehicles
- Class 3 – medium combination vehicles
- Class 4 – heavy rigid vehicles
- Class 5 – heavy combination vehicles.
What will the course prepare you for?
Thereare a range of courses you can consider if you are looking at getting a job as a heavy truck driver. These courses will help you get familiar with the truck and learning its basic machinery.
It will help you learn to manoeuvre these large vehicles on busy roads. It is very different from driving the average car. A course in automotive mechanics would be a good supplementary course to go with as well.
There are several private and public vocational/technical schools that have these courses on offer. But do keep in mind that it is best to check with local trucking companies if the training offered by a particular centre is acceptable to them.
Some companies offer formal training sessions in a classroom set-up along with on- road training. These instructions will cover driving regulations as well as general duties, the operation and the loading of a truck among other things.
The loading of a truck is an important aspect for both safety as well as maintaining the integrity of the cargo. You will also learn about company policies, and the paperwork involved in the form of delivery forms, logbooks, as well as handling company records.
What to expect during training
Truck driving courses are not rigid or rigorous, but rather are imparted in an informal manner designed for new drivers. You will be given a few hours of instruction by an experienced driver. You may get the chance to ride along with experienced drivers and observe how they function before you are assigned to a truck yourself.
As a heavy truck driver, there is one thing that you must know – that the job is much more than simply getting behind the wheel. Your skill sets are related to how safely you can transport cargo, how competently this is done and how well you maintain your vehicle. Simple training can get you started in the right direction.