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Tractor Driver: Job Description, Salary, & Job Openings 2022

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A tractor driver is an important position that demands a lot.

They are the driving forces behind many vital industries in the country.

That includes agriculture, food, construction, factories, mining, and more.

With the versatility presented, it’s easy to move up in ranks depending on your chosen field.

Keep reading to learn more about what you can expect if you pursue a career as a tractor driver.

What Is a Tractor Driver?

A tractor driver must operate tractors and other heavy machinery.

They use this type of equipment to perform various tasks across multiple industries.

A tractor operator has to follow instructions closely, pay attention to details, and stay observant, as they’re working in areas where the margin of error is low.

This physically grueling occupation is integral to the sectors it serves.

There are plenty of opportunities for advancement, depending on the industry.

What is a Tractor Driver Called?

A tractor driver is also known as an Agricultural Equipment Operator or a Tractor Operator.

What Does a Tractor Driver Do?

What a tractor driver does daily depends on the job site and the time of year.

Usually, they’ll transport goods and materials, operate machines, perform tractor maintenance, and they may plow fields and harvest crops also.

Tractor Driver Job Description

As the role is so broad, here is a brief overview of what you might do as a tractor driver:

  • Operate heavy equipment for construction, excavation, harvesting, landscaping, repairs, and more.
  • Operate a tractor for planting seeds, cultivating lands, and doing other farm-related work.
  • Perform repairs on construction and mobile gaming equipment.

A tractor driver must be in excellent physical condition to perform daily takes in possibly inclement weather.

You may spend a lot of time working alone in this position, but that can vary from job to job.

Top Tractor Driver Jobs and Careers

Here are a few job options you’d have as a tractor driver:

HGV Cargo Driver

As an HGV Cargo Driver, you deliver goods to various locations and return them to the warehouse while adhering to strict safety and legal requirements.

Tractor Driver/Technician

A tractor driver and technician would do horticultural work to improve and maintain green infrastructure, open spaces, and related areas.

Harvest Tractor Driver

A harvest tractor driver would engage in mowing, cultivations, inter-row hoeing, irrigation work, and estate maintenance.

Where Can a Tractor Driver Work?

A tractor driver can work almost anywhere that heavy machinery is required to transport large cargo.

That is usually associated with agriculture and farming, but it is also necessary for landscaping companies, construction companies, factories, warehouses, and more.

You could even find yourself working as a technician who consistently tests the safety of tractors, driving them for quality assurance to prevent accidents.

Is Being a Tractor Driver Hard?

Yes, it’s challenging to be a tractor driver because it’s physically taxing to do the tasks that require constant pushing and pulling, bending, lifting, and kneeling.

There are also unpleasant weather conditions, as this job is performed outdoors.

Anyone who applies for this position should be in tip-top physical shape.

Is a Tractor Driver’s Job Stressful?

To an extent, it is stressful to be a tractor driver because you’re working with important machinery all day long.

You have to have extensive knowledge of this heavy machinery, be able to handle hazardous conditions, and respond to dangerous situations if necessary.

However, someone who enjoys being busy doesn’t mind the labor and can adapt to doing hard work each day won’t mind the daily pace.

Common Tractor Driver Work Day

A typical work day is tricky to address because you could work for a factory, out in the countryside on a farm, near a mining plantation, or elsewhere where your services are needed.

You could start the day by checking your tractor to ensure it’s ready to handle the tasks.

Then, you’d likely move on to driving your tractor or other agricultural machinery as you transport materials from A to B for extended periods.

Tractor Driver Tasks & Duties

Tractor drivers have a wide range of responsibilities depending on their industry.

Here is a broad overview:

  • Perform maintenance on equipment (oil changes, replacing filters, rotating tires, etc.)
  • Move supplies to a specified location while using the tractor
  • Apply chemicals, plow the field, till the land, and more with a tractor or other farm machinery
  • Cultivate crops like soybeans, corn, and cotton in a large field

Tractor Driver Work Hours & Schedule

Tractor drivers work an average of 60-62 hours each week, even working on holidays and weekends.

The agricultural and industrial sectors are known for working many hours year-round.

Tractor Driver Dress Code

Tractor driver dress code may include clean jeans without rips, a plain t-shirt or long-sleeve shirt, steel-toe boots, and a hard hat.

You might have to wear special clothes depending on the industry.

Does This Career Field Embrace Work/Life Balance?

There isn’t much work/life balance as a tractor driver because you typically spend many hours working over what many people view as the standard 40-hour work week.

If you thrive knowing that you’re part of an important industry, that may be fulfilling in and of itself.

However, you may find yourself tired often.

Do Tractor Drivers Make Good Money?

The answer to this question largely depends on your lifestyle, the industry, and the cost of living where you reside.

In general, for the number of hours you work, it may not be good money if you live somewhere more expensive.

But you have the potential to make good money as a tractor driver if you’re in the right industry.

How Much Do Tractor Drivers Make?

According to Payscale.com, the average salary for a tractor driver is $22,000- $36,000 per year.

However, this figure can change drastically, as your work industry may increase your salary to $29,860- $53,040.

Tractor Driver Field: Career Progression

As a tractor driver, you’ll likely start with an entry-level position where you transport materials and care for the equipment, performing routine tasks related to farming, industrial work, and so on.

Eventually, you may advance into a position such as a farm manager, construction site manager, and other managerial roles.

Is a Tractor Driver a Good Career?

A tractor driver is a promising career for someone who doesn’t mind getting down and dirty daily, which will likely occur given the materials transported.

It can get too hot or too cold, you may be exhausted some days, and it does take a lot to work such long hours.

However, you’ll enjoy this career if you’re a physical specimen built for hard work and love tractors.

Tractor Driver Job Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics anticipates job growth from 2020-2030 to be around eight percent in the industrial field, which is the national average for job growth.

Demand for Tractor Drivers

Farm work will always be in high demand, as they keep grocery store shelves full.

Tractor drivers will always be a necessary position.

There are too many essential industries that rely on moving cargo to facilitate the production of food and equipment.

Tractor Driver Facts

  • The top industry for a tractor driver in Manufacturing
  • There aren’t many female tractor drivers, with the ratio of men to women being 91% to 9%
  • There are around 758,290 tractor drivers in the United States

Jobs Related to Tractor Driver

Here are top positions related to becoming a tractor driver:

Forklift Truck Driver

Forklift drivers are essential to warehouses, yards, ports/airports, and depots.

A forklift driver is responsible for transporting heavy goods from places that are difficult to reach.

Farm Hand

Farm hands’ job description is to help the farmer tend to various areas on the farm; they’re charged with carrying out many tasks in a day’s work.

They operate heavy machinery and work closely with different kinds of animals.

Farm Manager

A farm manager’s purview is to oversee all of the operations on a farm.

The workload and role of a farm manager vary according to the size of the farm.

Who Should Consider a Tractor Driver Career Path?

A tractor driver’s career path isn’t for the faint of heart.

It is hard labor that requires long working hours.

Often you’re working in harsh climates by yourself for long stints of time, and getting dirty and dusty simply comes with the job.

However, if you can wrap your mind around this, you’re made for this job.

Who Should NOT Consider a Tractor Driver Career Path?

You shouldn’t consider a career as a tractor driver if you are not in good physical condition, don’t have any experience or knowledge of how to operate heavy machinery, and don’t like to get dirty or do a lot of lifting and pulling.

You also should become a tractor driver if you can’t be on your feet for long or you experience chronic back pain.

Is it Hard to Become a Tractor Driver?

It’s not hard to become a tractor driver once you obtain the necessary licensing and experience.

It doesn’t require a high level of education, so it’s a good job that you can get relatively quickly once you complete the proper schooling.

What Do I Need to Become a Tractor Driver?

To be a successful tractor operator, you must comprehensively understand how the machine works and how to use it safely.

You must have good communication skills and be able to read to perform this job optimally.

Requirements for Becoming a Tractor Driver

  • Must have a school diploma/GED.
  • A valid and relevant driver’s license.
  • You must complete an apprenticeship or have experience in a similar role.
  • Having an appropriate associate’s degree can give you a leg up
  • Must have the skills to identify hazards and react approximately.
  • Comprehensive knowledge of heavy equipment.
  • Should have experience doing maintenance on general farming equipment and tractors.
  • The skill to finish unsupervised duties during irregular hours when required, often in harsh weather conditions.
  • Must be able to follow verbal and written instructions.
  • Astute health and safety knowledge.

What Skills Does a Tractor Driver Need?

It helps to have a decent amount of physical strength since you’ll constantly be moving and transporting goods and cultivating land, depending on your industry.

You should have excellent communication skills to communicate with supervisors and coworkers for clarity, hazardous situations, and more.

Also, mechanic aptitude is necessary to operate and care for a tractor properly.

What Education Does a Tractor Driver Need?

Employers may want their tractor operators to pass an industry-specific certification to demonstrate their general knowledge and understanding.

Can You Become a Tractor Driver Without a Degree?

Generally, tractor operators are expected to have a high school diploma at least—or an acceptable equivalent.

Some tractor operators have thought it good to pursue an associate’s degree in agriculture or a related field.

What Experience Does a Tractor Driver Need?

On-the-job training is given to Tractor operators as apprentices; this training can last anywhere from a few weeks to a month.

Training often includes adhering to safety procedures and, of course, how to operate the machinery.

Tractor Driver Education & Schooling

A category F driving license is required if you want to drive a tractor on the road.

Here are the two ways to obtain a category F license: You can pass a standard car driving test.

You are automatically given a category F license upon passing a car driving test.

Depending on your employer, they may require a commercial driver’s license or other licenses to be eligible for the job.

What Is Taught in a Tractor Driver Course?

The theory of tractor driving will be taught to aspiring tractor drivers taking the tractor driver course; this entails learning about essential health and safety issues.

Additionally, practical sessions will be held to give you hands-on experience behind the wheel of a tractor, including maneuvering and basic operation.

How Long Does a Tractor Driver Course Take?

It takes around two to three days to complete a course in tractor driving, depending on your experience level.

Tractor Driver Education Options and Degree Programs

Although no post-secondary degree is necessary to work as a tractor driver; however, having an associate degree or a certificate can prove to be handy.

Schools for Tractor Drivers

Many tractor driving schools around the country offer courses on maneuvering, safety, machine operation, pre-checks, PTOs, and more.

Steps To Become a Tractor Driver

Step 1: Attend a Training Program

Even though many tractor employers do not require pre-employment training, people with experience and knowledge may have a better chance of landing a job in the field.

Step 2: Necessary Licensure

Some employers or states do not require tractor drivers to have additional licenses like a CDL.

However, they may require that you have a permit.

They use this to verify if you have completed equipment operations and safety training.

Employers may require a permit for every machine that they have.

Step 3: Find a Union

Tractor drivers do not have to join a union, although they can help you maintain benefits and find employment.

As a tractor driver, you can find unions locally by region.

Interestingly, there are national and international unions available as well.

Current Career Job Openings

The tractor driver job is so niche, there are few other options to pursue.

Of course, a tractor driver will have similar skills and abilities as other drivers.

Especially those working long hours like trailer drivers.

Tractor drivers can also hone skills that help other fields in agriculture and field maintenance.

Conclusion

Taking on a career as a tractor operator has its rewards.

You will have the opportunity to work outdoors—use all kinds of equipment, and work with different industries.

You’ll have the fortune of learning new skills and staying up on the latest agricultural technologies.

You can earn a decent living with the possibility of advancing soon.

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