How to become a tanker driver: 5 steps to get started
Estimated reading time: 3 minutes
As a tanker truck driver, you not only have the chance to earn a great income, but also get to complete hands-on work with a wide array of equipment. However, there are some extra steps you need to take and additional requirements you need to meet to take advantage of tanker driving opportunities.
Learn more about how to become a tanker driver below.
How to become a tanker driver
1. Meet the requirements to become a truck driver.
Before you can focus your attention on tanker driving jobs specifically, you need to know how to become a truck driver. You also need to meet the basic truck driver requirements, which include:
- Being at least 21 years old (for interstate driving).
- Having a clean driving record and solid work history.
- Obtaining a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) from your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).
- Attending truck driving school or a CDL training program.
- Passing a drug and alcohol test.
- Undergoing a physical.
2. Make sure tanker driving is the right job for you.
Before deciding to become a tanker driver, it’s a good idea to research what the job entails to make sure it’s a good career fit for you.
Some of the things that differentiate life as a tanker driver from other driving jobs are:
- Type of freight: Tanker drivers haul primarily food-grade liquids (water, milk), liquid chemicals and petroleum products. The latter two are considered hazardous materials.
- The equipment you use: Tanker drivers typically pull steel tank trailers. Drivers must be skilled in managing the unique driving dynamics of a tanker, such as the "surge effect" caused by liquid movement inside the tank.
- The hands-on work: As a tanker driver, loading and unloading are done with pumps and hoses attached to the trailer.
- Extra certifications: Tanker drivers need extra training and certifications, such as a Tanker endorsement and a HazMat endorsement (if transporting hazardous materials).
- Stricter regulations: Due to the nature of the materials being transported, tanker drivers must adhere to stringent safety regulations and protocols, such as proper placarding.
3. Meet the specific tanker driver requirements.
Tanker driving involves several specific requirements due to the nature of its day-to-day tasks.
While the requirements vary by tanker driving job (e.g. the requirements to haul chemicals are different from the requirements to haul water), some of the most common must-haves include:
- Obtaining a Tanker endorsement. This can be done at the DMV at the same time as your CDL (with a separate written test and small fee) or added on later.
- Getting a HazMat endorsement. This endorsement is needed for drivers who haul hazardous materials like gasoline, propane, chlorine and other kinds of potentially dangerous chemicals.
- Earning a Tanker/HazMat combination endorsement. This endorsement, known as an “X” endorsement, covers both a tanker and HazMat endorsement.
- Investing in a TWIC card. A TWIC card is needed for drivers who haul their loads to ports, vessels or other maritime facilities.
4. Find a tanker driving job.
There are a wide variety of tanker driving jobs to choose from, including:The best way to know if a tanker driving job is right for you is to review specific job postings and descriptions.
5. Complete your tanker truck driver training.
Due to the specialized nature of the work, you should prepare for longer training when becoming a tanker driver. For example, Schneider’s tanker orientation is just under three weeks for experienced drivers and five weeks for inexperienced drivers.
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