Delivery truck drivers and driver/sales workers pick up, transport, and drop off packages and small shipments within a local region or urban area. They drive trucks with a 26,000-pound gross vehicle weight (GVW) capacity or less. Most of the time, they transport merchandise from a distribution center to businesses and households.

Duties

Delivery truck drivers and driver/sales workers typically do the following:

  • Load and unload their cargo
  • Report any incidents they encounter on the road to a dispatcher
  • Follow all applicable traffic laws
  • Report serious mechanical problems to the appropriate personnel
  • Keep their truck and associated equipment clean and in good working order
  • Accept payments for the shipment
  • Handle paperwork, such as receipts or delivery confirmation notices

Most drivers plan their routes. Some have a regular daily or weekly delivery schedule. Others have different routes each day.

These drivers generally receive instructions to go to a delivery location at a particular time, and it is up to them to determine the best route. They must have a thorough understanding of an area’s street grid and know which roads allow trucks and which do not.

Light truck drivers, often called pick-up and delivery or P&D drivers, are the most common type of delivery driver. They drive small trucks or vans from distribution centers to delivery locations. Drivers make deliveries based on a set schedule. Some drivers stop at the distribution center once only, in the morning, and make many stops throughout the day. Others make multiple trips between the distribution center and delivery locations. Some drivers make deliveries from a retail location to customers.

Driver/sales workers are delivery drivers who additionally have sales responsibilities. They recommend new products to businesses and solicit new customers. These drivers may have a regular delivery route and be responsible for adding new clients located along their route. For example, they may make regular deliveries to a hardware store and encourage the store’s manager to offer a new type of product. Driver/sales workers also deliver goods, such as take-out food to consumers, and accept payment for those goods.

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Work Environment

Light truck drivers or delivery services drivers held about 841,600 jobs in 2012.

The industries that employed the most light truck or delivery service drivers in 2012 were as follows: 

Retail trade 20%
Couriers and messengers 20
Wholesale trade 17

Driver/sales workers held about 432,000 jobs in 2012.

The industries that employed the most driver/sales workers in 2012 were as follows:

Restaurants and other eating places 32%
Wholesale trade 29
Retail trade 13

Delivery truck drivers and driver/sales workers have physically demanding jobs. Driving a truck for long periods of time can be tiring. When loading and unloading cargo, drivers do a lot of lifting, carrying, and walking.

Injuries and Illnesses

Given the nature of their jobs, these workers are at risk of being involved in motor vehicle accidents and have a higher risk of injuries due to lifting and moving heavy objects than workers in most other occupations.

Work Schedules

Most drivers work full time, and many work additional hours. Those who work on regular routes sometimes must begin work very early in the morning or work late at night. For example, a driver who delivers bread to a deli every day must be there before the deli opens. Drivers often work weekends and holidays.

Education and Training

Delivery truck drivers and driver/sales workers typically enter their occupations with a high school diploma or equivalent. They undergo 1 month or less of on-the-job training. They must have a driver’s license from the state in which they work.

Education

Delivery truck drivers and driver/sales workers typically enter their occupations with a high school diploma or equivalent.

Training

Companies train new delivery truck drivers and driver/sales workers on the job. This may include driving training from a driver-mentor who rides along with a new employee to ensure that a new driver is able to operate a truck safely on crowded streets.

New drivers also have training to learn company policies about package dropoffs, returns, taking payment, and what to do with damaged goods.

Driver/sales workers must learn detailed information about the products they offer. Their company also may teach them proper sales techniques, such as how to approach potential new customers.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

All delivery drivers need a driver’s license.

Other Experience

Some delivery drivers begin as package loaders at warehouse facilities, especially if the driver works for a large company. For more information on package loaders, see the profile on hand laborers and material movers.

Important Qualities

Customer-service skills. When completing deliveries, drivers often interact with customers and should make a good impression to ensure repeat business.

Hand-eye coordination. When driving, delivery drivers need to observe their surroundings while simultaneously operating a complex machine.

Math skills. Because delivery truck drivers and driver/sales workers sometimes take payment, they must be able to count cash and make change quickly and accurately.

Patience. When driving through heavy traffic congestion, delivery drivers must remain calm and composed.

Sales skills. Driver/sales workers are expected to convince customers to purchase new or different products from them.

Speaking ability. Drivers must comprehend English well enough to read road signs, prepare written reports, and communicate verbally with the public and law enforcement officials.

Visual ability. To have a driver’s license, delivery truck drivers and driver/sales workers must be able to pass a state vision test.

Pay

The median annual wage for driver/sales workers was $22,670 in May 2012. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $16,780, and the top 10 percent earned more than $46,240.

 In May 2012, the median annual wages for driver/sales workers in the top three industries in which these drivers worked were as follows:

Wholesale trade  $30,170
Retail trade 25,490
Restaurants and other eating places 18,330

The median annual wage for light truck or delivery services drivers was $29,390 in May 2012. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $18,190 and the top 10 percent earned more than $62,520.

In May 2012, the median annual wages for light truck or delivery services drivers in the top 3 industries in which these drivers worked were as follows:

Couriers and messengers  $55,130
Wholesale trade 27,750
Retail trade 23,060

Most drivers work full time, and many work additional hours. Those who work on regular routes sometimes must begin work very early in the morning or work late at night. For example, a driver who delivers bread to a deli every day must be there before the deli opens. Drivers often work weekends and holidays.

Job Outlook

Employment of light truck or delivery services drivers is projected to grow 4 percent from 2012 to 2022, slower than the average for all occupations.

Employment of driver/sales workers is projected to grow 9 percent over the same period, about as fast as the average for all occupations.

Improved routing through GPS technology can make existing truck drivers more productive, which may limit the demand for additional drivers. With improved routing, drivers can be more efficient, navigating better in traffic and spending less time idling at each stop.

Additionally, higher diesel prices could cause companies to limit their hiring of new drivers and increase the company’s focus on technological solutions. The limits on hiring will be especially true for drivers at large shipping companies.

However, as the economy grows, the need for more deliveries is expected to increase. From the distribution of warehouse goods to the delivery of packages to households, nearly all goods are brought to their final destination by delivery drivers.

Job Prospects

Job opportunities for delivery truck driver and driver/sales worker are expected to be competitive. Because these drivers do not have to spend long periods away from home, these jobs tend to be more desirable than long-haul trucking jobs. Job applicants with experience, a clean driving record, or who work for the company in another occupation should have the best job prospects.

For More Information

For more information about truck drivers, including delivery truck drivers and driver/sales workers, visit

American Trucking Associations

Professional Truck Driver Institute

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, 2014–2015 Occupational Outlook Handbook, http://www.bls.gov/ooh.

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