Dump Truck Driving Jobs
If you’re looking for a truck driving job that doesn’t require months on the road but still earns a respectable salary, dump truck driving may be a good fit. This page explains what dump truck driving is, explores the pros and cons of the career, discusses how to get started, and details what salary range you can expect.
What Is Dump Truck Driving?
As trained professionals, dump truck drivers drive large trucks with an open bed to deliver supplies, such as sand, trash, or paving materials. Common responsibilities include driving the truck to the assigned location, using cranks and levers to load and unload materials, verifying delivery instructions, and maintaining accurate driver logs.
Dump truck drivers are also responsible for loading materials correctly and safely, inspecting the truck for mechanical issues, and following safety protocols.
Although dump truck drivers may drive different types of trucks, the most common type of dump truck is a standard truck chassis with a dump truck body. The bed is hinged, and controls in the truck’s cab raise and lower the bed.
Other common types of dump trucks include:
- Semi-trailer dump truck: A combination semi-trailer dump truck where the bed of the truck contains the hydraulic hoist.
- Transfer dump truck: A standard dump truck that pulls a separate trailer containing cargo, with a hydraulic line or electronic motor that often powers the trailer.
- Truck and pup: Like a transfer dump truck, it contains a standard dump truck pulling a trailer, but the trailer has its own hydraulic system.
- Super dump truck: A straight truck with a trailing and liftable axle that can carry much higher weight loads.
Types of Dump Truck Driving Jobs
Many industries and businesses need dump truck drivers, including construction, mining, municipalities, demolition, waste companies, plumbing companies, and transportation companies.
As a dump truck driver, you may carry dirt, rocks, garbage, sand, snow, wood chips, and more. For example, you might work on a construction site delivering gravel or work for a city carrying mulch in the spring and snow or road salt in the winter.
Pros and Cons of Dump Truck Driver Jobs
Like most jobs, there are pros and cons to driving a dump truck. Whether the job is suited for you will depend on your lifestyle, personality, and the company you work for. Here are a few pros and cons to consider before pursuing a job as a dump truck driver.
Pros of dump truck driving:
- Easier Loading/Unloading: The dump truck makes it easier to load and unload deliveries with the push of a button. You won’t have to help move heavy crates as you may when unloading a regular trailer or worry about loads falling over as when driving a flatbed.
- Less Travel: Dump truck drivers usually drive local routes, so you may be home more than long-haul drivers. This is often ideal for drivers with family responsibilities.
- Good Pay: Most dump truck drivers earn a competitive salary compared to other industries (though it may be less than OTR drivers who spend weeks or months on the road).
Cons of dump truck driving:
- Difficult Delivery Sites: You may deliver to construction sites or industrial work sites, which can be difficult to navigate. For example, you might have to drive over unpaved roads, navigate cones and other blockages, and wait for the right time to deliver your load.
- Loneliness: Since you work alone and don’t interact with clients as often, dump truck driving can be lonely. Of course, some drivers prefer the predictability and time alone in this type of work.
- Repetitiveness: Truck drivers may drive the same route for weeks or months—for example, moving rocks to or from a construction site throughout a long construction project. The lack of change can be frustrating for some drivers.
- Prone to Tipping: Shifting loads, uneven ground, and a high center of gravity can make dump trucks more likely to tip over than other trucks.
Is Driving a Dump Truck a Good Job?
With predictable home time, steady work, and competitive pay, many drivers consider dump truck driving a solid career choice. Not sure if dump truck driving is right for you? Below is what some dump truck drivers have to say on Quora about their position, including what they like and don’t like and some of the challenges they’ve faced.
“I honestly love it,” says dump truck driver Dave Gilbert. “I’ve driven OTR and Regional and I’ll take driving a tri-axle any time. I make more money after taxes per week than I used to gross when I drove big trucks, and I’m home every night. I work weekends but that’s by choice, and if something breaks on the truck it’s either fixed immediately or they just get me another truck (I’m a company driver), we have loads all winter and summer and if I want a break from traffic I can switch to nights if I want.”
Driver Alice Sanford explains, “It is not easy, days are long and hard, my particular truck has no AC and is hot to run. Almost flipped it over backwards this year (almost peed my pants). The company I work for does a lot of houses lots and septic systems. There is a lot of round and round and round. It can be fun and challenging.”
Sometimes driving dump truck loads with shifting weights can be harrowing and require quick thinking on the part of the driver. “Watching the nose of your truck rise skywards is unsettling…I had backed to the edge of a cliff and was in the process of tipping my load of earth backwards into the chasm,” details dump truck driver Peter Ackryod. “I had of course checked that I’d backed on solid ground to the edge. The shift of weight as my load slipped back changed that. One back wheel was evidently hanging in mid-air over the, now disintegrated, cliff edge and there was no way I could persuade the load to return to the front and tip me forward. To attempt to drive forward under normal circumstance would be pointless. The airborne wheel would just spin. Locking the rear differential so the two back wheels would turn together might work, but the earth under the other wheel could also similarly collapse. HOWEVER, all tipper [dump] trucks have all-wheel drive and well as lockable front and rear differentials. I was easily able to lock all 4 wheels and engage ‘crawler’ gear to get the front wheels to pull me gently to safety. Part of a normal day.”
How Do I Become a Dump Truck Driver?
While the requirements to become a dump truck driver will vary by company and position, there are a few general qualifications you’ll likely need to meet. These include:
- Being at least 21 years of age
- Having a clean driving record
- Passing a physical and drug test
- Holding the appropriate license and endorsement
License and Endorsements for Dump Truck Jobs
The license you’ll need to drive a dump truck depends on the type of truck and the materials you’ll carry. In general, drivers need at least a Class B CDL, which allows you to operate a single vehicle that weighs more than 26,000 pounds or tows less than 10,000 pounds. For tractor-trailer dump truck jobs, you’ll need a Class A CDL.
Are Dump Truck Drivers in Demand?
According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS), the employment of heavy and tractor-trailer drivers (including dump truck drivers) is projected to grow by 6% through 2030. That equates to an estimated 231,100 nationwide openings for truck drivers every year from 2020 to 2030.
How Much Do Dump Truck Drivers Make a Year?
The average salary for heavy and tractor-trailer drivers (not specifically for dump truck drivers, and including over-the-road drivers) is $48,710 per year or $23.42 per hour. However, the salary is dependent on the company, location, and types of loads. It’s important to remember that most dump truck drivers are paid by the hour, which means you earn money even if you are waiting to deliver your load.
Zippia reports an annual average salary of $41,324 for dump truck drivers, with the top 10% earning $53,000 or more.