How to Become a Tanker Truck Driver and Make a Lot of Money

June 15, 2021

Trucking is one of the most lucrative driving jobs in the United States. Of these trucking jobs, tanker truck drivers are often the ones that make the most money.

To become a tanker truck driver and make a lot of money, you’ll need specific training and credentials, as well as in-depth knowledge of traffic laws.

Trucking companies are willing to pay handsomely for the expertise of a skilled tanker truck driver. 

Why? because tanker trucks frequently transport hazardous materials. These trucks need to be handled by well-trained drivers with excellent skills. 

It requires extra effort and training. If you are looking to earn a substantial sum of money from driving, the job of a tanker truck driver might be your best option. 

How do I become a tank truck driver?

Certain skills are required for tank truck drivers in order for them to accomplish their responsibilities. Here are the requirements in order to become a successful tanker truck driver:

Knowledge of Hazardous Materials

Understanding the nature of the different materials that are transported through tanker trucks is vital information for a tanker driver.  

With this knowledge, the driver understands the need to properly navigate through traffic, and to take precautions to avoid an explosion.

The materials transported in tankers include carbon dioxide, argon, diesel, propane, liquefied petroleum, sulfuric acid, chlorine, gasoline and many more. 

Each of these materials is combustible, and can easily start a huge fire that can consume anything in its way. 

When handled properly by a skilled driver, the materials are no danger to the public.

Knowledge of Tanker Truck Equipment

There are a number of equipment pieces unique to tanker trucks. Since hauling chemicals in tankers usually means the transport of harmful chemicals, the equipment used is very different from dry vans, flatbeds and other trailer types.

You must learn how to identify and operate all of the components of a tanker truck safely and effectively.  Here are some of them:

  • Tank trailer
  • Pump & Air Compressor
  • In transit heat
  • Camlock fittings
  • Vapor Recovery Systems
  • Skully systems
  • Weight and Volume

Best Liquid Tanker Trucking Companies Near Me

An Understanding of Traffic Laws

There are often specific road rules for transport trucks. These rules and regulations maintain law and order on the roads. 

Failure to follow the rules means breaking the law. This could result in sanctions from the authorities.

This means it is important to understand and follow the driving rules accordingly. This way, a tanker truck driver will be able to drive properly on the road and stay on the right side of the law. 

It is also important to note that in the United States some rules vary from state to state. These differences can pertain to speed limits, signage and consequences for disobeying certain traffic laws.

However, several driving rules apply to all states across the country. Here are just a few: 

  • Always drive on the right side of the road.
  • Do not drive through the right lane except necessary.
  • Make use of the left lane to pass other cars coming towards your lane. 
  • Always respect the zebra lines, and make way for pedestrians to pass.
  • All occupants in a vehicle must wear a seat belt. 
  • The use of mobile phones is not allowed while driving unless the vehicle has a hands-free setup.
  • All vehicles have to give way to emergency services vehicles.
  • Always make use of the indicator lights when turning. 
  • Do not drink and drive. It is illegal.
  • At all times while driving, drivers are to have a  valid driver's license, registration documents and insurance documents. 

Tanker truck drivers should always be aware of the road signs and traffic signals.

Since road signs and traffic signals can differ from country to country, tanker truck drivers who are new to the United States should thoroughly study U.S. traffic signage. 

Here are some U.S peculiar road signs and traffic signals that tanker truck drivers should be aware of, to make their road experience smooth and safe.

Road Signs

  • Object marker: This sign is long and rectangular. It features diagonal black and yellow lines which indicates whether there are any obstruction or hazards on the highway. 
  • Grade percentage: This sign lets truck drivers know when to brake while driving downhill. The sign shows a percentage rate that represents the incline for every 10 feet. The higher the rate, the higher the incline which will entail drivers to adjust their braking. 
  • Lane designation:  This sign points truck drivers to the right lane they are to take on the road. Sometimes, tanker trucks amongst other types of trucks are required to follow a specific lane on the road. The sign features two arrows that let truck drivers know that there are several lanes so they can drive on the right-hand outermost lane.
  • Curve: This sign is usually placed where a turn on the road is required. It displays a truck image tipping over, which indicates that the driver should slow down to avoid ending up like the picture on the signboard. 
  • Height: This sign shows the height limit allowed to pass through highway overpasses and bridges ahead.
  • Railroad crossing: This sign is to indicate that there is a train track, so take caution. If there is a cancel sign over a truck tanker image, it indicates it is not safe for the truck to drive through.

An Understanding of Trucker Slangs

There are words peculiar to only truck drivers, especially in the United States.

These words enhance the communication between truckers in various trucking sectors. 

Thank truck drivers without a thorough understanding of trucker slang might make communication difficult.

It could also affect the driving because much information will be oblivious to the driver. Trucker slangs can be studied online and while on the job. A good understanding will help you bond with your truck driving colleagues.

Sound Mental and Physical Health

Transporting a large quantity of hazardous material in a tanker truck requires a lot of mental and physical ability. 

Carrying hazardous materials can be risky and drivers must be able to handle the steering wheel without fear, have good eyesight (with or without glasses) and sharp hearing abilities. 

Otherwise,  the driver is at risk of losing control while driving. This could result in an accident that can pose a serious risk to the public, and also incur problems for their trucking company.

Sometimes these materials are transported over long distances. This might require an all-night journey, and driving for long hours. Drivers need to have strong physical strength to accomplish this task. 

Drivers are likely to get tired and sleepy after a long day of driving. They need to know when it’s time to stop for the night and rest.  They also recognize that continuing to drive while tired would be dangerous. 

There  are ways for drivers to maintain sound mental and physical health. In the evenings, drivers can try exercises like yoga, weightlifting, and jogging.  On the road, drivers should eat healthy snacks, and engage in activities that energize the mind . 

Doing all of these can help regulate and strengthen the mind and body. The job requires a driver in control of their l state of mind and physical abilities as well. 

A Valid CDL

Possessing  a valid commercial driver’s license is one of the most important  credentials to qualify someone as a tanker truck driver. Without a CDL, applying for the role of a tanker driver can be futile. 

Under state  and federal law, drivers need a CDL if their  truck weighs 26,001 or more pounds. A CDL is compulsory if their truck is being used for commercial purposes.

A tanker truck weighs over 30,000 pounds, which is why a CDL is required. 

To obtain a CDL from your state, you will have to undergo and pass the tests involved in the application process.

The requirements include: must have your state’s basic driver’s license, must be 18 years and above, must have good eye vision and color recognition ability and be generally medically fit. 

A Hazmat Endorsement

With a hazardous material endorsement, you are legally licensed to transport hazardous material in large quantities from one location to another. 

You can become a truck driver without a hazmat endorsement but you cannot become a tanker truck driver without a hazmat endorsement. 

You can apply and get one directly from your state office. Rules vary from state to state, though,  so you’ll need to check first.

In New Jersey and a few other states, you can get an endorsement from the state’s TSA.

The job of a tanker truck driver can be risky  and demanding, and that’s why drivers are well paid for it.

Key Questions To Ask About Your Tanker Loads

Before you start trying to move a liquid bulk chemical shipment, you should know the right questions to ask your dispatcher or shipper about the load you are going to transport.

Here are some of the most important questions:

  • What is the product?
  • Does the product have any special properties? (Hazardous, temperature sensitive etc.)
  • How much hose do you need for loading and unloading?
  • What kind of connector do you need?
  • Do the facilities require a center or rear unloader?
  • Do any facilities require special safety equipment?
  • Does the load require a TWIC card to enter the premises?
Top Liquid Tanker Trucking Companies

How much does a tanker driver make?

In the United States, the average tanker driver earns between $31,000 and $86,000 annually.

Although, the salary of a tanker driver differs according to the geographic area. Nevertheless, tanker drivers are paid higher than other truck drivers. 

A tanker driver can make $32.7 per hour, which would sum up to $68,020 per year. Now that's a substantial amount of money. 

This job sector has become one of the most lucrative in America's trucking industry. According to reports from Zipp, between 2018 and 2028 the industry is expected to experience a 5% growth and create 99,700 employment opportunities across the U.S.

Regarding this, the trucking industry’s growth is exponential. Employment seekers have an opportunity to secure a driving job in this sector and earn a lot of money from it, especially from driving tanker trucks when all of the above are followed.

About the author

I’m Luis Uribe, author of this website. I am the owner and head publisher for Trucker Daily and a freight brokerage Total Connection Logistics. I have been in and around the trucking industry for over 15 years. It is my mission with Trucker daily to equip truck drivers, with the latest in industry updates, news, and helpful tips to help further your trucking career and life. Whether you are a truck driving veteran, or beginner, you will find information on this site to save you a lot of time in your driving journey.

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