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Refrigerated Truck Driver Tips

One of the most vital refrigerated truck driver tips that a refrigerated truck driver must adhere to is to comply with the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).

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ABCO Transportation
October 5, 2020
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The role of a refrigerated truck driver can lead to significant changes and success in your career. If you are an experienced truck driver hoping to make a change, then learning the benefits of refrigerated truck driver jobs can help you uncover your next career. In this article, we will cover everything you need to know about refrigerator truck driver tips and jobs, including how much drivers make, the type of jobs available, and general job descriptions so you can ensure this career change is the perfect one for you. 

One of the most vital refrigerated truck driver tips that a refrigerated truck driver must adhere to is to comply with the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). This act details essential guidelines that refrigerated trucker drivers must follow to provide an effective and, more importantly, safe service when transporting perishables in a sanitary manner. 

How Much Do Refrigerated Truck Drivers Make?

how-much-do-refrigerated-truck-drivers-make

One of the most appealing aspects of refrigerated truck driver opportunities is the potential pay scale. While many employees do not like to think about money, it is undeniably something that drives many to make decisions regarding their careers. 

When looking for a full time position as a refrigerated truck driver and answering a job alert or job post regarding a potential opportunity, knowing whether the change will positively impact your salary is an important thing to consider. This is because you may need to undertake additional training or even gain certifications to ensure you understand how to comply with FSMA regulations. Of course, you do not want to take a pay cut, even if you are excited about the chance to be a refrigerated truck driver, which is where knowing the pay range comes in handy. 

Starting Salary

Like any career, the salary for a refrigerated truck driver will vary depending on experience. The starting salary for a refrigerated truck driver is around $15, with an average hourly wage of $15.23. This wage will generally remain the same for the first four years of your refrigerated trucking career and includes additional factors such as overtime, tips, and any seasonal or performance bonuses you may collect during your initial few years. However, even if this might not be too appealing right now, the knowledge that your wages are sure to progress can encourage you to continue your career. One primary positive regarding refrigerated truck driving is that you can do it for as long as you like. This is especially beneficial if you love to drive and travel across the country regularly. 

Should you decide to stay in the refrigerated truck driving industry longer, a mid-career truck driver should see a wage of up to $18.50 per hour.. Of course, what drivers earn can vary depending on your location as well as how much you work. Those in full time positions and happy to take on regular overtime are bound to earn more. In contrast, those who can only do their regular hours (due to other commitments, including education or family care) will find their salary on the lower end of this pay scale.

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Experienced Drivers 

More experienced drivers, which usually accounts for those with between 10 and 19 years of experience, will find themselves earning as much as $21.65 per hour, with bonuses, tips, and overtime still included. 

One interesting thing to note is that late-career refrigerated truck drivers may see a slight dip in their salary, with an average of $21 per hour. However, there are reasons for this. Primarily, those with over 20 years of experience may prefer to take a slight step back from being on the road and instead focus on training, administration, or logistics duties. This means that they will not obtain the tips, bonuses (for distance traveled and performance), or overtime they used to sign up for in their early career. 

By this point in your career, you may not want to spend as much time on the road, and this is perfectly understandable. You will likely already have a sufficient amount of savings so that the $0.65 each hour may not make much of a difference, especially if you reduce your hours and get the chance to spend it with your family or on hobbies. 

Benefits for Truck Drivers

It’s also important to consider the potential benefits that will come with refrigerated truck driver opportunities. Like any decent career, you want a role that offers a variety of valuable benefits, rather than a list of things you will never use. The primary benefits you will find with a career in refrigerated truck driving include: 

  • Dental 
  • General medical
  • Vision

Such benefits are expected from any career, although knowing that you can enjoy such benefits as a refrigerated truck driver will give you peace of mind that you will be protected should you encounter any problems. As your eyesight is so crucial to truck driving, this benefit is particularly one to look out for, as is dental, especially if you spend a lot of your time on long-distance, cross-country travel. As the hours can be (but are not always) long, you may not find the time or situation to take proper care of your health 100% of the time. These benefits will, at least, give you a buffer to ensure you can maintain a general level of health while on the road. 

Refrigerated Truck Driver Jobs

Refrigerated truck driver jobs come in many forms, including both local and short-distance options for the owner-operator of a refrigerated truck. 

Although many people consider refrigerated truck driving to be similar to the long-haul journeys or regular ‘Dry Vans,’ this is not the case. In fact, the career can be as diverse as you want it to be and depending on your experience and needs, you can find the ideal role to suit you. 

Most often, however, refrigerated truck drivers will prefer to commit to long journeys, which are known as Over the Road Truck jobs. This is usually because it is what they are most familiar with, and it will arguably pay the most money as you will spend more hours in the cab when making your delivery. 

These types of jobs will cover cross-country deliveries, and you will be expected to travel across state lines to ensure a delivery makes it to the destination on time. You will also be expected to handle large shipments, and this is usually wholesale stock, although there’s also a chance you might need to deliver pharmaceuticals. 

Conversely, you may also have the option to work as a short-distance driver. Unlike cross-country opportunities, these will use smaller trucks and generally occur within your state or around the city’s limits. 

These jobs may not pay as much per day, as you won’t need to be in the van as long, which will naturally reduce your hours. However, there are many benefits to short-distance refrigerated trucking. You can go home at the end of the day following your final delivery, which is better for your work-life balance. You may also have the chance to apply for overtime if you feel you need a little extra cash, and it does not interfere with your personal life. 

This type of job will arguably give you more freedom. Typically, you will need to ship fresh produce from the warehouse to restaurants or supermarkets. You may also need to ship cold drinks, including soda or water, as well as the occasional pharmaceutical shipment, perhaps between hospitals or from laboratories to hospitals.  

The diversity of refrigerated trucking jobs gives you some options that you may not find in other careers, which is what makes it so appealing while still being able to enjoy the career you know you are well trained for. 

Refrigerated Truck Driver Job Description Details?

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If you are interested in working as a truck driver who drives a refrigerated trailer, you must understand precisely what is expected of you before beginning your application and starting your journey. Knowing the job description and additional details will better prepare you for the next stage of your career. It will also allow you to consider any concerns or uncertainties you might have regarding the job. 

The Basics 

It should come as no surprise that you are responsible for driving the truck. This is a given. However, the primary responsibilities of a refrigerated truck driver go further than this. Before you even consider the delivery aspect of your truck driving career, you must first ensure that you can maintain the vehicle. This includes keeping the area cab clean, as well as the cargo holding area, the size of which will depend on whether you are driving a straight truck or a box truck. Considering that perishable food and drink are some of the primary shipments for refrigerated trucks, you must ensure that these items are appropriately secured to prevent them from toppling over or spilling, which would ruin your load and give you a significant cleaning job.

You are also responsible for making repairs on the vehicle. If you have experience with truck driving, this is something you might already be familiar with, and knowing how to overcome any vehicle failures can be the difference between making a shipment on time and being late for the delivery, which does not reflect well on your or the company. 

It also goes without saying that you should know traffic laws, especially through different states, while also understanding the designated trucking routes to ensure you avoid time-drains, such as cities and the suburbs. You must also have excellent time management to remain on schedule and know how to monitor the truck’s temperature to prevent spoilage. 

Qualifications 

Many people believe they can just climb into the cab and drive away. However, like any job, you will need to get several certifications and qualifications to ensure you are suitably prepared for your truck driving career. 

Before anything else, you must obtain a Commercial Drivers License. This will sometimes be written as a CDL. The CDL requirements can vary depending on the state, as they contain both federal and state regulations. However, you can expect that the qualification process involves both written and performative tests, as you should expect from any career related to driving. As truck driving is much more complicated than regular driving, applicants will attend a truck driving school to prepare them for the CDL. 

As you are already a truck driver, you should already have your CDL, and in this case, you will not need to obtain a separate license. 

Additional requirements for you to be considered for a refrigerated truck driving career include a drug screening, as well as an impeccable driving record. While these two factors may not seem too related, there is a chance that one could impact the other. Both issues can identify you as a liability, which will put potential employers off. If they do not believe they can trust you to deliver the freight on time or perform to a high standard, you will not be considered for a position. Therefore, you must ensure that you follow driving laws wherever you go to avoid the risk of being flagged for speeding or driving infractions. 

Additional Responsibilities 

Truck drivers are not merely responsible for transporting the freight from the shipment source to the client or customer. Any truck driving job also comes with additional responsibilities that you must be prepared to undertake should you want to pursue a career in refrigerated truck driving. 

Such responsibilities include safe driving. By itself, this sounds like a given. However, as truck driving often involves a tight schedule, there is a chance that the driver could feel pressured to drive too quickly, putting themselves, the cargo, and, more importantly, others at risk. Because of this, a driver must have a cool head to ensure they do not breach the speed limit while still ensuring they can deliver the shipment safely. You should also make sure your shipment weight meets road-safe requirements. 

As drivers must monitor the carriage temperature, they should also be aware of any sudden and significant changes, both too high or too low. This means they will need to know what to do and act quickly without calling for assistance or advice on what to do next and how to deal with it. Depending on where you are, you may need to pull over so you can adjust the temperature safely, and not try to focus on fixing the temperature and driving at the same time. 

Another significant responsibility that you should be prepared for is the loading and unloading of cargo. This, in particular, is a responsibility that not enough drivers in the trucking industry consider; which means that they either do not leave the depot on time, as they waited around for someone else to load the cargo, or they leave the client with a sour taste, as they did not fulfill their duties. If you want to ensure a smooth delivery, you must make sure to load and unload the freight safely and efficiently. 

Drivers will also be responsible for logging miles (although you may get a GPS that assists with this) as well as how much gas you consume each journey to help you find the most fuel-efficient route. 

As an experienced truck driver, you are already familiar with such duties and responsibilities. Still, it is always worth confirming what is expected of you before embarking on a new career. 

To sum up, the job description of a refrigerated truck driver includes: 

  • CDL certification 
  • An understanding of trucking routes and laws 
  • Ability to maintain and repair your vehicle
  • Monitoring the temperature level to prevent spoilage 
  • Loading and unloading of cargo
  • Log miles, fuel usage, and stops

Suppose you believe you are capable of carrying out these duties with safety, efficiency, and professionalism, and already have experience driving trucks. In that case, there is a strong possibility that you can excel as a refrigerated truck driver, ensuring top-quality service from the moment you step into the cab until home time, and leaving satisfied customers with every delivery. 

Reefer Trucking Companies

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It is crucial to identify the best reefer trucking companies when considering the next step of your career. Knowing which companies are the best to work for will do wonders for your career. You will have the support you need to excel and progress the way you want to, whether this is taking on duties for longer, Over the Road shipments, or working in limited local and regional positions. These positions will give you more freedom and achieve a more successful work-life balance. This second point may appeal to anyone looking for a new challenge while still being able to spend time with their family. 

Some of the top reefer trucking companies in the USA come with an exceptional reputation that gives you the confidence and peace of mind that you will have the support you need to make significant positive steps in your career. However, as they are so well-regarded, they will also come with high standards. As a professional truck driver, you already know the expectations of making shipments safely, on time, and with the cargo in excellent condition. Because of this, meeting these high standards should be second nature to you, meaning you will be able to adapt to your new role as a refrigerated truck driver with ease. 

To get a job with reefer companies, you will first need to learn more about what refrigerated trucking is, and this will involve some research, as well as filling out an application that you can find on our website. 

Refrigerated Trucking 101

Refrigerated truck driving may seem simple from the outside. The truck carriage is refrigerated. What more do you need to know? However, as with any job, there is always more to it than this, and understanding the complexities behind these refrigeration units will enable you to understand the entire refrigerated trucking industry in more depth, allowing you to excel at your new career. 

We have already covered the job description and expectations. Still, it would be best if you also understood the general basics that are involved with refrigerated trucking to ensure you get to grips with the industry as a whole. 

Luckily, the refrigerated trucking industry is not too dissimilar to regular trucking, which is why many truckers will make a lateral move towards refrigerated trucking after they desire a change for their career. 

Despite much of the job being similar, however, there are also some essential differences that you must recognize to ensure a seamless transition from regular trucking to refrigerated trucking. 

How Does a Refrigerated Truck Stay Cool?

One thing you must know about refrigerated trucking is how the trailer remains cold for the duration of the journey. Knowing how the truck remains cool will ensure that you can maintain the temperature from the beginning of the trip until the very end, which will help ensure quality. 

There are three primary components you will find in a refrigerated truck. These are: 

  • Compressor
  • Condenser
  • Evaporator

Each component has a significant part to play in maintaining the optimal temperature for your refrigerated truck. The compressor operates on a small motor or engine that draws the refrigerant and compresses it until it is liquified. From here, it is pumped into the condenser, which alters the temperature, cooling it and the air around through a fan. This works much like how a radiator will cool your car engine to prevent overheating. The final stage involves the evaporator, which helps control the temperature through a valve and maintains a cool environment for the food, drink, or other supplies. 

As the liquid transforms back into a gas during the evaporation phase, it allows the process to start all over again, keeping a consistent temperature within the trailer and preventing any cargo issues. 

What Are Refrigerated Trucks Used For?

Refrigerated trucks are an essential option when transporting perishables that must be kept at a specific temperature to ensure quality upon arrival at the destination, whether this is for an organization or a business, such as the hospitality industry. 

Refrigerated trucks are primarily used to transport fresh food and drink. This is especially vital for restaurants, supermarkets, hotels, and more who rely on fresh produce when creating meals or selling items to customers. As not all companies can prepare fresh food on-site, a refrigerated truck is a crucial component for ensuring consistent quality.

There is also the aspect of medicinal purposes, including types of vaccines and medication. Some pharmaceuticals must be kept at a specific temperature, which is lower than room temperature. A dry truck would not be able to ensure the temperature remains at the correct level, which is where a refrigerated truck is useful. Such pharmaceuticals include sedatives used at hospitals, and these must follow specific cold-chain guidelines from the lab to the truck to the destination. Besides pharmaceuticals, blood must also be kept within a particular temperature range, between 4°C and 8°C (39.2 - 46.4°F), to prevent the serum from separating. This can only be done for up to 24 hours. 

Cold drinks will also need to be kept in refrigerated trucks during the transportation process, as will anything that requires short-term preservation. However, unlike food, drink, and pharmaceuticals, this is not as common. If you decide to embark on a refrigerated truck driving career, you will primarily work with fresh food before anything else, although you may be required to ship other types of goods from time to time. 

Advantages of Refrigerated Trucking 

There are many advantages of refrigerated trucking, especially when compared to the Dry Van alternative. These advantages include: 

  • Supply and demand

As there will always be a demand for temperature-controlled goods, refrigerated trucks will always be needed. 

  • Versatility 

While refrigerated trucking is primarily used to transport perishable goods and food and drink that require constant refrigeration, you can also use them to transport dry goods or temperature-sensitive items, even if these items do not necessarily need to be ‘cold’ upon arrival. 

  • Protection

Dry vans may not be capable of protecting goods from extreme weather conditions, either too hot or too cold, which could affect the ambient temperature inside the trailer. In contrast, a refrigerated truck will prevent the goods from being affected by the temperature outside the trailer, especially when stationary. The same trucks can also keep the freight safe from theft, general spoilage, and even damage. 

Disadvantages of Refrigerated Trucking

While refrigerated trucking has several advantages, they also come with their share of disadvantages or challenges that potential truckers must be aware of before embarking on their new career as a refrigerated driver. 

  • Regular cleaning 

Cross-contamination is a significant issue when working with perishable goods. Because of this, you will need to carry out regular cleaning on the trailer to ensure there are no goods or substances leftover following a successful delivery.

  • Noisy 

The refrigeration components, including a powerful motor, can make the trailer and the cab too noisy, which could impact your focus when navigating highways or even smaller, trickier roads. 

  • Long wait times 

Compared to dry van deliveries, refrigerated truck drivers often experience longer wait times to load and unload at shipping docks.

  • Breakdown issues 

Although you should know how to repair the vehicle if a breakdown occurs, there is a chance that the shipment could spoil if the issue is not noticed and rectified quickly enough. 

Reasons to Consider a Refrigerated Truck Driving Career

There are plenty of reasons to consider a refrigerated truck driving career. Besides decent-to-excellent pay (depending on your experience), you also get a level of freedom that you would not find at a regular office job. Furthermore, many truck drivers see it as an opportunity to increase their skill set and diversify their resume while remaining in the same industry, which is an immensely appealing factor if they love to drive. 

Unlike truck driving jobs of the past, technological advancements have also made the operations process more comfortable than ever. This enables you to keep in touch with your managers and also solve any issues quickly. One point that can severely affect the quality and efficiency of a shipment is road closures due to accidents or even natural disasters (such as flooding or landslides). While previous truck drivers would only find out about this problem several miles beforehand, your in-cab GPS and apps can reroute your truck to keep you on track for a successful delivery. 

Finally, while the majority of refrigerated truck drivers will carry out long truck hauling, those who want to stay local and not spend several days on the road for a shipment can look into small or medium-sized trucks. These smaller deliveries are more local and will enable you to get home in time for dinner, allowing you to spend more time with the family. This is another aspect that appeals to truck drivers hoping to make a change in their career after spending their early years almost continuously on the road. 

Experienced Drivers Needed for Refrigerated Trucking

ABCO Transportation provides various excellent opportunities for any truck drivers who feel there is time for a change and want to give themself a new challenge in their career. Now that you understand why refrigerated truck drivers are such a crucial component of everyday life and operation, from transporting produce and supermarket goods to medical supplies and more, you should understand whether a refrigerated truck driving career is right for you. 

Our team at ABCO Transportation can provide the experienced truck drivers all the advice you need to find out which avenue is the perfect option for you to take and even help you identify critical roles you are sure to excel in. If you want to learn more about refrigerated trucking opportunities, the ELD mandate and make a significant career change, don’t hesitate to fill out our trucking job application today. Our opportunities include Regional, OTR, and local truck driver jobs in Florida and other truck driving jobs. We have options so you can find the perfect job to suit your needs. Get in touch today at 866-980-2710 to enjoy a new trucking career complete with appealing benefits.

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