What Does a Dump Truck Operator Do? (And How to Become One)
Updated 27 June 2023
Dump truck drivers transport materials from one place to another. The materials they transport and the trucks they operate can vary depending on the industry they work in. Understanding the typical tasks of a dump truck driver can help you decide if this career path fits your goals and personality.
In this article, we discuss what a dump truck operator does, provide steps on how to become one, list the licensing requirements and explain the typical work environment, skills and average salary in this role.
What does a dump truck operator do?
If you're interested in this career, you may wonder, ‘What does a dump truck operator do each day?’ They primarily transport materials. The materials they move can include gravel, sand, dirt and garbage. Dump truck operators all share the primary purpose of moving materials from one location to the other. Depending on their truck and the materials they deliver, their responsibilities may change. For example, a dump truck operator who collects rubbish may wash their truck after every shift. Whereas mine sites may outsource the cleaning of their dump trucks.
Below are some of the typical duties of a dump truck operator in varying industries:
loading a truck with materials
unloading materials in a specific area
transporting materials over long distances
moving materials from one site to another
cleaning the truck after use
performing daily vehicle checks
verifying material weight.
How to become a dump truck driver
Below are the usual steps to becoming a dump truck driver:
1. Obtain required licences
The first step to becoming a dump truck driver is usually to get your C-class driver's licence. This driver's licence can allow you to drive standard passenger vehicles of up to 12 people. Depending on the dump truck you may drive, you can consider additional vehicle licences. Most of these licences require you to have held a C-class licence for several years.
2. Gain work experience
Depending on the career you're applying for, you may require several years of experience driving a specific class of dump truck. If your career goal is to drive multi-combination dump trucks, you can consider gaining experience with smaller trucks that require less extensive licensing. Most of the skills you learn while driving trucks can be transferable to driving dump trucks.
3. Apply for a dump truck operating career
Once you gain your required licensing, you may start applying for a career as a dump truck driver. You may find positions in mining, construction and transport companies, for example. You can apply for a career driving a dump truck using the Indeed Job Board.
There are typically several licensing requirements for becoming a dump truck operator. Depending on the job you're applying for, you may operate a range of vehicles. Employers usually state in the job posting the type of licence you may require. Below you can find the main licences for operating dump trucks:
Medium rigid (MR)
An MR licence allows you to operate dump trucks that utilise two axles. Most states require you to have held your C class licence for at least one year before you can get your MR. Having a medium rigid licence might help you gain employment with waste disposal companies and city councils. Most waste dump trucks are MR vehicles.
Heavy rigid (HR)
A heavy, rigid dump truck has three or more axles and weighs over eight tonnes. The HR licence usually allows you to drive any HR and MR classed vehicle. Most states require you to have held your C class licence for two years. As a dump truck operator with an HR licence, you can expect to gain employment with city councils, mine sites and material transport companies. These industries typically use both HR and MR vehicles.
Heavy combination (HC)
A heavy combination licence can allow you to operate vehicles that weigh over nine tonnes and have an attached trailer. Companies that transport materials over long distances often use an HC dump truck. If you have held your C class licence for three years and have an MR licence, you may apply for the HC class.
Multi combination (MC)
Besides specialised mining dump trucks, MC trucks are typically the largest. Three years of owning a C class licence and one year of owning an HC licence are the usual requirements for obtaining your MC licence. MC dump trucks typically transport minerals from mine sites and deliver them to production or export facilities.
Where does a dump truck operator work?
As a dump truck operator, there are usually three main areas where you might gain employment. Where you work as a dump truck operator, may also determine the type of vehicle you operate and the materials you transport. Below you can find the typical industries you can work in as a dump truck operator:
Some mining companies require the transportation of raw minerals, such as iron ore and coal. If you gain employment on a mine site, you may work remotely on a fixed schedule. Your working schedule may require you to remain on site for several weeks. Mine sites typically use heavy, rigid dump trucks to transport raw minerals. Mine sites may provide you with special training to operate these heavy trucks.
One of the common dump truck operations is the collection of waste. As a dump truck operator, you may gain employment with the government or a private waste disposal company. In this type of role, you may operate a specialised dump truck that compresses waste. City councils or waste disposal companies can provide you with training to operate these vehicles.
Construction projects for large structures and buildings may require substantial removal or addition of materials, such as dirt and sand. As a dump truck operator, you may gain employment with construction companies delivering materials and disposing of construction waste. Depending on the dump truck you drive, you may require licensing ranging from MR class to MC class.
Skills of a dump truck operator
The following skills can assist a dump truck operator in performing their duties:
Awareness: As a dump truck operator, you can expect to be driving near other vehicles and pedestrians. Being aware of your surroundings can help conduct your responsibilities safely.
Attention to detail: One of your primary duties as a dump truck driver may be to inspect your vehicle every day. Having good attention to detail can help you identify any hazards or maintenance issues, such as a flat tyre or leaking hydraulics.
Communication: As a dump truck driver on a mine site, communicating with other operators is crucial for workplace safety. Due to limited vision in a mining dump truck, following the instructions of your co-workers may be necessary when reversing and unloading.
Time management: If you're delivering materials to construction sites, it's usually important to make your delivery on time. Time management skills can help you plan your deliveries and consider potential delays, such as roadwork or traffic.
How much does a dump truck operator earn?
Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at the time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.
The average national salary of a dump truck operator is $86,328 per year. Depending on the industry you work in, your average salary may vary. Dump truck driving jobs that require extensive licensing usually have a high salary relative to the average. Mine sites may also provide a competitive salary if you're working remotely and driving specialist dump truck vehicles. For example, you may gain employment as an underground dump truck driver. The average salary of an underground miner is $149,917 per year.
Similar careers to dump truck driving
Below are some truck driving careers that can provide you with similar work experience and transferable skills:
1. Delivery driver
National average salary: $74,529 per year
Primary duties: Delivery drivers usually operate MR- and C-class vehicles. One of their key tasks is typically to collect parcels and goods from distribution centres and deliver them to businesses or households. Delivery drivers usually work for businesses that deliver goods, such as a bakery or food warehouse. They may also find employment with distribution companies.
2. Truck driver
National average salary: $78,638 per year
Primary duties: Truck drivers operate a range of trucks. Depending on their class of vehicle, they can expect to transport varying materials. Truck drivers usually travel long distances and make interstate deliveries. They may also deliver large building fabrications to construction sites or large mining equipment to mine sites. Truck drivers can gain employment with transport companies or businesses that regularly deliver numerous goods.
3. Tanker driver
National average salary: $95,536 per year
Primary duties: Tanker drivers handle the transportation of liquids, gasses and other substances. They usually operate an HC or MC vehicle and require licensing to transport dangerous goods. Tanker drivers can gain employment with transport companies or companies that produce and distribute dangerous liquids.
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