Did you know that not all truck drivers drive trucks?
Truck and Tractor Operators carry out a wide variety of tasks that include transporting goods and equipment across the country for commerce and maintaining farms and farmland for nationwide production.
If you’re considering a career path as a Truck or Tractor Operator, it is important to understand the job duties and expectations for each role.
Truck and Tractor Operators have similar job duties and roles.
They both contribute to the agricultural and logistics cycles that strategically and systematically move goods and equipment around the country.
Read on to learn more about the job duties and requirements for Truck and Tractor Operators.
Later, we’ll provide a list of pros and cons to help you decide if this career pathway is right for you.
Table of Contents
- What is a Truck and Tractor Operator?
- Truck Operators
- Tractor Operators
- What Do Truck and Tractor Operators Have in Common?
- What is a Commercial Driver’s License?
- Pros of Being a Truck and Tractor Operator
- Cons of Being a Truck and Tractor Operator
- 14 Pros and Cons of Being an Industrial Truck and Tractor Operator – Summary Table
- Should You Become a Truck and Tractor Operator?
What is a Truck and Tractor Operator?
While Truck and Tractor Operators share some of the same job duties and skills, they have some responsibilities that are drastically different.
Below is a basic overview of the differences between the two.
Truck drivers, also known as truck “operators,” are integral components of the global economy as they often transport large trucks filled with consumer goods and equipment across the country to deliver goods, materials, and equipment to individuals, corporations, and institutions around the country.
Driving and Operating
The primary duties of a truck driver or operator include driving and operating trucks on public roads and byways to deliver goods and equipment on a schedule while remaining in compliance with driving laws and regulations.
Loading and Unloading
Truck operators are also responsible for loading and unloading their cargo before, after, and during transport.
Loading and unloading include securing cargo and equipment in a manner that is safe for transport.
Truck drivers are responsible for following pre-mapped routes and route planning to ensure that products, goods, and equipment in the logistics chain are delivered on schedule.
Drivers must account for impromptu accidents and other traffic obstacles that threaten to prevent them from reaching their destinations on time.
While many Tractor Operators have the same skill sets as Truck operators and can also drive trucks, their primary tasks are to operate heavy equipment and machinery in and around agricultural settings.
Tractor operators carry out monumental tasks like plowing large fields, planting crops, harvesting crops, and general farm maintenance to prepare crops for being transported and sold at volume.
Tractor Operators are responsible for prepping fields and farmland for planting a wide variety of crops that then enter the food cycle and finally end up at grocery stores and in homes around the country.
These well-trained farm equipment operators use heavy equipment and machinery to plow, till, or harrow soil.
Planting and Seeding
After preparing the soil, Tractor Operators plant seeds and seedlings using tractors, farming equipment, and proper spacing.
What Do Truck and Tractor Operators Have in Common?
Truck and Tractor Operators are typically required to carry a valid commercial driver’s license, relevant endorsements, and certifications for the different types of equipment they operate.
What is a Commercial Driver’s License?
A commercial driver’s license is a specialized license for people who operate commercial vehicles on public roads.
People who have commercial driver’s licenses can operate a wide variety of commercial equipment, including 18-wheeled trucks, buses, and tractor-trailers.
Note: Tractor Operators who don’t drive on public roads may or may not be required to obtain a CDL license.
Check with your state Department of motor vehicles to learn about specific requirements for driving a truck or tractor in your state.
Pros of Being a Truck and Tractor Operator
#1. – Job Stability and Demand
As long as there are goods, services, and equipment that need to be transported from one place to another, the career outlook for truck and tractor operators looks good.
There is a consistently high demand for entry-level and skilled truck drivers and tractor operators in the fields of agriculture, construction, and logistics.
#2. – Competitive Pay
Many Truck and Tractor operators began working in the field because the pay is highly competitive.
Drivers with specialized skills, including endorsements and certifications, can make even more money than their non-certified counterparts.
#3. – Job Flexibility
Because their skill set is in such high demand, many Truck and Tractor operators can choose between working a full-time or part-time schedule.
Some truck and tractor operators work full-time for twelve months of the year, while others can achieve their financial goals for the year in just one or two quarters or by working seasonally throughout the year.
#4. – Independence
One of the perks of working as a Truck and Tractor Operator is solitude.
If you enjoy your own company or working at your own pace without having co-workers or other colleagues looking over your shoulder, you may enjoy the independence and solitude that working as a well-paid truck or tractor operator brings.
#5. – Skills Development
Today’s Truck and Tractor Operators have a wide variety of skills acquired through working on the job.
Drivers and operators must keep up with the latest technology and related equipment for heavy-duty machinery and remain compliant with local, state, and federal rules and regulations.
#6. – Short Training Period
Becoming a Truck or Tractor Operator takes a relatively short amount of time when compared to getting started in other fields with similar pay.
A new truck or tractor operator can be trained in as little as a few weeks or days of intensive training and be road ready immediately after becoming licensed.
#7. – Advancement Opportunities
Truck and Tractor Operators serious about their careers can advance by taking on more job responsibilities, earning endorsements and certifications, or becoming owner-operators who own trucks and equipment and compete for hot shot jobs.
Cons of Being a Truck and Tractor Operator
#1. – Long Hours
One of the hallmarks of being an over-the-road driver or tractor operator is working long hours.
Many Truck and Tractor Operators are faced with working long or irregular hours that can place a strain on their personal and familial relationships.
#2. – Physical Demands
Many exhausted Truck and Tractor Operators say they have chronic aches and pains from years of operating large vehicles like 18-wheeled trucks, farming equipment, and tractor-trailers that can take a physical toll on the body over time.
#3. – Monotonous Routine
Although operating a truck or tractor can provide job stability and excellent compensation, the work can become monotonous after a long period of time.
If you’re someone who loves variety in your work routine, this may not be a very exciting or rewarding career for you.
#4. – Irregular Schedule
Along with working long hours, Truck and Tractor Operators often find themselves working at odd hours throughout the day and night.
Following a schedule largely dependent on logistics and timing can make it difficult to plan for important events, appointments or to schedule much-needed social time with family and friends.
#5. – Isolation and Loneliness
While some of us thrive in the comfort of our own company, others suffer from the effects of isolation and loneliness that can go along with being a Truck and Tractor Operator.
Spending long hours driving along the highways and byways of the country with little or no outside contact is a downside for many Truck and Tractor Operators.
#6. – Health Concerns
Driving to many locations throughout the country along America’s roadways and off the beaten path can sound like a dream — until you realize the damaging effects of poor food choices when eating away from home.
Many Truck and Tractor Operators experience adverse health effects associated with poor food choices while on the roads and sitting for extended periods without exercise, which can cause limited blood flow to the lower extremities.
#7. – Legal and Regulatory Compliance
Being out of compliance with any of the many rules and regulations that govern the expectations and duties of Truck and Tractor Operators can be taxing and stressful.
Truck and Tractor drivers must remain in compliance with local, state, and federal laws and restrictions to maintain their license and employment status or owner-operator status.
14 Pros and Cons of Being an Industrial Truck and Tractor Operator – Summary Table
|Pros of Being a Truck and Tractor Operator
|Cons of Being a Truck and Tractor Operator
|#1. - Job Stability and Demand
|#1. - Long Hours
|#2. - Competitive Pay
|#2. - Physical Demands
|#3. - Job Flexibility
|#3. - Monotonous Routine
|#4. - Independence
|#4. - Irregular Schedule
|#5. - Skills Development
|#5. - Isolation and Loneliness
|#6. - Short Training Period
|#6. - Health Concerns
|#7. - Advancement Opportunities
|#7. - Legal and Regulatory Compliance
Should You Become a Truck and Tractor Operator?
If you love being on the open road and spending quality time alone while transporting some of America’s most integral goods and equipment, then becoming a Truck and Tractor Operator may be the career for you.
Truck and Tractor Operators bring home competitive salaries and opportunities for advancement based on hard work, dedication, and earning higher-paying endorsements or certifications.
Remember that these careers can be mentally, physically, and emotionally taxing and can create a feeling of isolation when you’re working long hours or odd shifts that take you away from spending time with friends, family, and loved ones.
If you feel that you’re up to the challenge of becoming a Truck and Tractor Operator in your state, the next step is to research schools and fast-track programs that can help you get started!