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When it comes to our letters and packages, we seem to forget about the famous adage advising us to emphasize the journey rather than the destination. We want the new pair of shoes purchased online or the birthday gift from relatives on the opposite coast – and we want them now. Lost along the way is the journey, where dutiful delivery truck drivers play a crucial role. Delivery truck drivers unload their precious cargo at a variety of places, including businesses, college campuses, apartment complexes and houses in residential neighborhoods. “The bulk of the first part of their day is spent delivering packages, and it can be a wide variety of different people and businesses that they are going to visit throughout the day,” says Dan McMackin, a former delivery truck driver and current public relations manager for United Parcel Service. “Delivery drivers serve everything from hospitals to high schools to small businesses to large businesses, and they bring them all the things they need to run their businesses.” Unlike bus drivers, delivery drivers transport goods, not people.
These workers held a solid 769,010 jobs in 2012, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports. The profession is expected to expand nearly 3.8 percent by 2022 – a rate that’s slower than the average for all professions. In recent years, BLS projections for delivery truck drivers have cooled considerably. In 2010, the Labor Department predicted the industry would see 15 percent employment growth for the next decade. Two years later, the BLS reined in those estimates mainly because drivers are now more productive thanks to GPS technology, which may mean fewer will need to be hired in the future, and higher diesel fuel prices could deter companies from bringing on additional drivers.
The average delivery truck driver took in $29,390 in 2012. The top-tier earners took home $62,520, while the lowest-compensated took home $18,190. The motion picture and video, courier and express delivery service and wired telecommunications industries compensate employees best. Many of the highest earners reside in Dover, Del., Lowell, Mass., and Santa Fe, N.M.
After earning a high school diploma or GED certificate, many new delivery truck drivers receive in-house training at their companies. This training can last anywhere from two to three months and involves a driving mentor riding along with a new employee to ensure he or she is able to comfortably navigate a massive truck on cramped streets. McMackin says UPS offers a similar training for its new hires. “The company spends 1.3 million hours a year on just safety training for everything from hazmat to safe driving,” he says. “Then, there are also safe work methods – in other words, how not to injure yourself while doing the job, how to lift with the leg and how to keep packages in your power zone, which is between your knees and your shoulders.” Drivers typically receive classroom instruction as well. Lessons center on package drop-offs, returns, taking payments and handling damaged goods. For most delivery truck driving jobs, a valid driver’s license and clean driving record are typically required.
Delivery truck drivers must have solid math skills and decent hand-eye coordination, but that’s not all. They also need sound communication skills, given that they often prepare reports and converse with the general public and law enforcement officials. McMackin says customer-service skills are crucial, and drivers must be both interested and comfortable serving other people. “You might not have a problem driving a truck, or you might not have a problem doing a physical job. But if you’re not interested in serving other people, that’s not the job for you,” he says.
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Last updated by Nathan Hellman.