Do you enjoy driving heavy vehicles, travelling to different locations, and working with people? Then, a career as a truck driver might be for you.
Truck Drivers drive trucks, tankers, tow trucks, and removal vans to transport heavy goods and liquids between locations. They perform basic vehicle inspection, quality checks, vehicle maintenance, and weight estimation to ensure the safe transportation of goods to the destination.
You need a state-issued truck and heavy vehicle license and undertake a medical examination to become a truck driver in Australia. Completing a Certificate III or IV in Driving Operations at TAFE or local RTO is helpful.
Are you looking for an outdoor job that pays you to travel the world? Then, you must find out how to become a truck driver in Australia. This article discusses who a truck driver is, what he does, what he studies, where he works, how much he earns, and the pathway to pursue this career in Australia.
1. Who Is A Truck Driver?
Truck drivers are licensed workers who drive heavy vehicles, tankers, trucks, and 16-wheel tractor-trailers to transport goods, food, automobiles, materials, and cargo across the country. This makes them an essential part of the overall supply chain.
Truck drivers follow safety guidelines to ensure the safe handling, loading, unloading, and separating of dangerous goods throughout their work. While some work as self-employed contractors, others work for transportation companies, dispatching agencies, or commercial fleets.
2. Is Truck Driving A Good Job In Australia?
Are you interested in the job profile but need to decide whether to pursue the career?
Check out some good reasons why becoming a truck driver is a good decision:
You earn to explore the beautiful landscape of the country.
The scarcity of heavy truck drivers translates to a heavy demand for new truck drivers. Thus, job stability and security are other reasons to pursue this profession.
Many companies allow you to define a flexible working schedule that suits your needs. This way, you enjoy greater control over your work hours compared to other professions.
3. What Does A Truck Driver Do?
A typical day of a truck driver comprises the following tasks and duties:
Take receipts, plan routes, and deliver cargo loads to the destination.
Verify loading documents
Check the condition of cargo/load/freight throughout the trip
Drive trucks while adhering to all road safety regulations
Manoeuvres vehicles to load and unload freight
Load and unload goods by hand or by forklift, lifting and tipping devices while observing safety requirements
Obtain certification for deliveries
Ensure cargo is correctly positioned and securely covered and strapped to prevent damage or loss via transportation
Maintain logs, work diary, and timesheets with details of trips
Talk to the dispatcher regarding the trip and consignment status
Perform pre- and mid-trip quality checks and security inspections of the vehicle for a safe drive
Log any safety incidents
Check freight weights to ensure that it complies with load limitations and secure weight distribution
Use a GPS or navigation system
Identify mechanical issues and conduct repair/maintenance activities
Drive cautiously and handle dangerous road conditions
4. Truck Driver Skills For Success
To work as a truck driver and succeed in this profession, you require the following skills:
Enjoy practical work
Good knowledge of road rules
Able to lift heavy loads
Forklift operation skills
Customer service skills
Able to drive trucks at night and in extreme conditions
Able to operate, control, and manoeuvre trucks
Perform mechanical inspections
Safe driving skills
Able to handle the physical demands of the job
5. Qualifications To Become A Truck Driver In Australia
Do you want to know how to become a truck driver without experience? You don’t need formal qualifications to work as a truck driver (General) as you would get informal on-the-job training.
Here are the requirements to qualify for this role:
Complete your Year 10 education
Obtain an unrestricted driver’s license from your state-level licensing authority
Establish an impeccable driving record
Decide on the class of vehicle you want to drive, such as a Light Rigid (LR), Medium Rigid (MR), Heavy Rigid (HR), Heavy Combination (HC), or Multi Combination (MC) vehicle.
Take on the Heavy Vehicle Competency Assessment test in your chosen vehicle category to obtain the specific truck driving license. This is required to work as a Heavy Rigid Truck Driver, Multi Combination Truck Driver, Medium Rigid Truck Driver, or Heavy Combination Truck Driver.
Completing a Certificate III/IV in Driving Operations through TAFE or a local private institution helps work as a Truck Driver (General). The course teaches you how to manage fatigue that could result from long driving hours.
To transport cargo carrying dangerous substances, you must have special licenses, a medical certificate, an eyesight test, and a good driving record. You also need proof that you attended a relevant training course.
6. Steps To Become A Truck Driver In Australia
The eligibility criteria to work as a truck driver can differ from one state to another in Australia. However, the general and mandatory requirement in all states is to have a heavy vehicle license.
The following steps will help you obtain the license and pursue the role:
Step 1: Obtain A Car Driver’s License
To become a truck driver, you need to hold a valid car driver’s license. To apply for a license for different classes of vehicles, you must have a driver’s license for a specific period.
Step 2: Obtain A Heavy Vehicle License
You can’t directly apply for an unrestricted license with your car driver’s license. To become a full-fledged commercial truck driver in Australia, you must go through a step-wise process.
To obtain a Light or Medium Rigid license, you must hold the car driver’s license for at least 12 months.
For a Heavy Rigid license, you need to hold the Light Rigid license for at least 24 months. This ensures that you have adequate experience in driving trucks before you can operate heavier vehicles in Australia.
Once you have held your Heavy Rigid license for at least one year, you can apply for a Heavy Combination Driver’s Licence. Thus, you will need four years to obtain your HC license.
The Multi Combination Driver’s Licence is an unrestricted and the highest class in vehicle license that enables you to operate any road-registered vehicle without restriction. You must have held an HC/HR license for one year to apply for this license.
Refer to the below links to know the licensing requirements for other states:
Step 3: Pass The Medical Test
You must pass a written eye examination and practical knowledge test for the license class you are applying for.
Suppose you have a Medical Condition or taking any medication. In that case, you need medical clearance from the state-level authority before you can attend the heavy vehicle training course.
It shows that you are healthy and physically fit to drive the truck on the roads.
Step 4: Take The Driver’s Training Course
You must study the formal training course in that category based on the license you wish to obtain. For example, if you aim for an HR (Heavy Rigid license) license, you must study for the HR driving license course and sit for an HR assessment test.
Different states may have other course requirements. You should check your state regulations and book your on-road and off-road Heavy Vehicle license course with a local accredited provider.
Step 5: Take The Written And Practical Assessment
The last step to working as a truck driver is to pass the Heavy Vehicle Competency Based Assessment with an RTO and obtain your heavy truck license in Australia.
If you do not find any RTO nearby, you can also sit with a Roads and Maritime Testing Officer.
You will get a certificate of competence for your license category when you successfully pass the test.
Step 6: Get Your Heavy Vehicle Licence
Once you get the certificate of competence, visit the concerned state-level Roads and Transport Department to endorse your heavy vehicle license.
You need to pay some fees to receive your endorsed driver’s license. Congratulations, you are now a qualified truck driver and can start driving trucks on roads.
Step 7: Find A Job
Identify the type of industry you wish to work in and apply for the related jobs. Familiarise yourself with the navigation system and tools needed to execute the job, such as ropes, tarps, straps, manual lifting tools, forklifts, etc. Also, get a good understanding of loading, adjusting, and unloading cargo.
Read online articles to stay updated with the latest technology, legislation, and events concerning the industry. Learn about the truck driving technology the employer uses and prepare for interview questions before heading for the interview.
The below online sources can help you find a job:
Alternatively, you can register with recruitment agencies or approach logistics companies directly.
National Truck Driving Resources
7. Relevant Truck Driver Courses
Certificate III in Driving Operations (Available as a Traineeship)
The course provides on-the-job training to develop practical skills to drive heavy vehicles, manage fatigue, safely shift materials, and communicate between vehicles.
Certificate III in Driving Operations will help you seek employment in entry-level driving operation jobs in the transport and logistics industry, such as tip truck driver, local heavy general freight driver, or bus driver.
Certificate IV in Driving Operations (Available as a Traineeship)
The Certificate IV in Driving Operations course prepares you for an exciting career on the road and increases your job security in this industry and the future. It involves much-specialized knowledge and skills in many contexts to take on skilled work in a truck driving environment.
The course teaches students about transportation technology, road rules, safe truck driving rules, strategies for logging miles, trip planning, and map reading.
8. Work Conditions For Truck Drivers
Early starts, strict deadlines, long shifts of up to 14 hours a day, and long-distance travel to remote, interstate, or rural locations describe the life of a truck driver in Australia.
While working, they are frequently exposed to harmful elements. As they stay away from home for many days, their trucks are fitted with bunks, refrigerators, ergonomically designed seats, and televisions.
Around 85% of workers work full-time in this profession. This shows low part-time work opportunities. When working full-time, they spend about 49 hours a week driving.
The average age of employed workers is 47 years, and only 3% of workers are female, which is very low compared to the average of 48% of all occupations.
9. Where Does A Truck Driver Work In Australia?
The demand for truck drivers is in the following sectors:
Electricity, Water, Gas, and Waste Services
Postal, Transport, and Warehousing
The Most Common Truck Driving Jobs Are:
Local Heavy General Freight Driver
Line Haul Driver
Pilot Vehicle Driver
Fuel Tanker Driver
Tip Truck Driver
Chemical Tanker Driver
Heavy Recovery Driver
LP Gas Tanker Driver
After working in a transportation or retail company, truck drivers can work independently by managing a truck or small fleet. However, it may seem like a significant initial investment. Still, it can offer you greater work flexibility and lead to a rewarding experience.
The profession gives you ample scope of specialization in the following areas:
10. Job Prospects Of Truck Drivers In Australia
This is a tremendous occupation in Australia. Presently, the country is facing a shortage of skilled truck drivers due for two key reasons:
The increasing significance of road freight
Current drivers approaching their retirement age
This indicates a promising future for this profession in the next couple of years. The future demand for truck drivers depends on the economic condition and competition posed by other transporters, such as air and rail freighters.
Based on the government’s Job Outlook website, the job prospects for bus, coach, and truck drivers are strong.
The number of workers is expected to grow steadily from 196,000 in 2020 to 208,800 by 2025. Truck drivers may work as owner-drivers or drive company-owned vehicles.
They work in several regions of Australia, particularly in industries related to Transport, Construction, Electricity, Postal and Warehousing, Gas, Waste, and Water Services.
11. How Much Do Truck Drivers Earn In Australia?
The average truck driver’s salary is $79,465 per year or $31.49 per hour in Australia. According to the National Job Outlook website, full-time truck drivers earn around $1,509 per week.
Initially, the pay could be lower for newly qualified drivers, but it will gradually increase with experience.
Let’s see how much a Truck Driver can expect to earn in different cities in Australia:
Perth, Western Australia: $108,412 per year
Mackay, Queensland: $100,949 per year
Brisbane, Queensland: $83,706 per year
Sydney, New South Wales: $82,257 per year
Melbourne, Victoria: $76,934 per year
Dandenong, Victoria: $74,587 per year
Yatala, Queensland: $70,504 per year
Orange, New South Wales: $63,716 per year
Trucking has become a feasible niche for sustainable employment in the present and the predictable future. Robust future growth, decent compensation, and work flexibility make it worthwhile to pursue this career.
So, if you are serious about making a truck driving career, follow the above steps and get your wheels turning.
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