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What is a yard jockey? Unloading details about the role

A terminal tractor parked in a Schneider lot.

Estimated reading time: 2 minutes 

Truck driving is often associated with long hauls across the country, but many other driving jobs exist that allow drivers to stay local. One such job is a yard jockey – someone who works in truck yards and manufacturing facilities. 

But what is a yard jockey, and what do they do? Keep reading to find out. 

What does a yard jockey do? 

A yard jockey’s job description usually consists of moving trailers to and from yards and loading docks at a factory, plant, warehouse, rail yard or similar location. Yard jockeys help eliminate congestion and streamline the loading and unloading process by managing the trailers that are dropped by other truck drivers. 

Yard jockeys are also often expected to: 

  • Assist with docking trailers.
  • Inspect containers.
  • Perform yard checks.
  • Perform preventative maintenance on machinery and tools.
  • Fill out necessary delivery forms and paperwork.
  • Fuel reefer trailers.
  • Clean out empty trailers.

Do you need a CDL to be a yard jockey? 

Although some companies do not require yard jockeys to have a CDL if they only drive within the yard, most companies do require their yard jockeys to obtain a CDL.  

Other yard jockey requirements often include: 

  • Being at least 21 years old.
  • Having a clean driving record and solid work history. 
  • Passing a drug and alcohol test. 
  • Undergoing a physical.

What kind of equipment do yard jockeys use? 

Yard jockeys don’t usually drive semi-tractors. Rather, they move trailers using terminal tractors, which are sometimes called spotter trucks, yard trucks or yard dogs. 

A white terminal tractor truck pulls a Tanker trailer into a shop.

Terminal tractors differ from semi-tractors in the following ways: 

  • They have a shorter wheelbase.
  • The cab only fits one person.
  • The door is in the rear of the cab to allow easy access to the trailer.
  • There are windows on all four sides of the vehicle.
  • They come equipped with an integrated lifting ability and fifth-wheel coupling, to assist with moving trailers.

Aside from driving a terminal tractor, yard jockeys may also be required to operate warehouse equipment like pallet jacks or forklifts to help with loading or unloading trailers. 

What skills do you need to be a yard jockey? 

Being a yard jockey requires a specific skill set to perform the job efficiently and safely. Some essential skills that a yard jockey should have include: 

  • Strong driving skills: Yard jockeys must have excellent driving skills as they are responsible for maneuvering large trailers around tight spaces.
  • Good physical stamina: The job can be physically demanding, with duties including hitching and unhitching trailers.
  • Attention to detail: Yard jockeys must have a keen eye for detail while inspecting containers, performing yard checks and handling delivery forms and paperwork.
  • Problem-solving skills: When issues arise, such as a congested yard or malfunctioning equipment, yard jockeys must have the problem-solving skills to address them effectively.

Benefits of becoming a yard jockey 

A yard jockey role is a good job option for both inexperienced drivers and experienced drivers who are looking for a unique driving opportunity.  

Some of the benefits of becoming a yard jockey include: 

  • Getting home daily: Yard jockeys almost always get home daily. This makes it an ideal position for drivers who are looking to stay close to home.
  • Working predictable hours: Yark jockeys are usually given a consistent work schedule (such as first, second or third shift) and work the same days each week.
  • Earning reliable hourly pay: Yard jockeys usually earn hourly pay. This pay structure, combined with a predictable schedule and weekly paychecks, means driver pay is reliable and consistent.

Choose a company that backs its drivers

Get specialized paid training, reliable pay and award-winning benefits as a Schneider yard jockey. Browse available opportunities to learn more about the role today.
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Schneider Guy loves the "Big Orange." He's passionate about the trucking industry and connecting people to rewarding careers within it. He's been the eyes and ears of our company since our founding in 1935, and he's excited to interact with prospective and current Schneider associates through "A Slice of Orange."

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