Commercial fuel-truck drivers must obtain more qualifications than most commercial truck drivers. Because their cargo is extremely flammable and poses an environmental hazard as well, fuel haulers are required to get additional training in safe fuel handling and HAZMAT (hazardous materials) training. Their pay generally reflects the additional hazards they endure and training they must possess, compared to other truck drivers.
According to May 2010 figures by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, truck drivers employed by petroleum product wholesalers in general earned a median hourly wage of $19.10, or an average of $39,730 per year.
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Commercial Truck Drivers
Fuel-truck drivers are a subset of large-rig commercial truck drivers - those who drive vehicles with gross vehicle weights, or GSW, of more than 26,000 pounds. The lowest-paid 10 percent of these drivers earned $11.89 per hour or less as of 2010, according to the Department of Labor Statistics, while the highest paid 10 percent of commercial large-rig drivers earned $27.64 per hour or more.
Compensation for fuel truck drivers varies by state. As of 2010, the states with the highest mean hourly wages for commercial fuel truck haulers were Alaska ($23.20), Nevada ($22.34), New Jersey ($21.09), Massachusetts ($21.00), and New York ($20.89). Note thatmost of the highest-paying states are in the northern states with significant snow and ice, which poses a safety concern for truck drivers. Employers must frequently pay a premium wage to compete for truck drivers in markets where roads are frequently dangerously icy for much of the year. Also, some truck drivers in Alaska live and work in very remote, hostile work conditions. These drivers earn a premium wage to compensate them for being apart from families and living in a harsh environment. In Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, for instance, a fuel truck drive can earn more than $100,000 a year, according to Indeed.com.
Duties and Responsibilities
Fuel haulers frequently transfer fuel from wholesale storage tanks to their trucks, and from their trucks to retail storage tanks. This can be hazardous, especially if the truck is not grounded properly. which can cause a spark, followed by a fuel fire. Fuel haulers must also assist mechanics in inspecting and maintaining their own rigs, pumps and other equipment.