A Career As A Dump Truck Driver - Australia
So you think you'd like a job as a dump truck driver? The mining sector is forging ahead and many are accumulating a nest egg by working 'up north' for a few years. Fly-in, fly-out positions don't suit everyone but if you can handle the conditions, a truck driver career is a lucrative option with annual income on average upwards of $A150,000. Trucking companies are continually recruiting truck drivers.
Western Australia probably has the most opportunities for dump truck drivers at the moment. China's seemingly insatiable need for minerals and iron ore shows no sign of abating and prospects for continued employment look solid.
Apart from the monetary rewards, learning the skills needed to drive the mighty trucks will stand you in good stead and be a highly marketable ability. However, while driving a dump truck may seem challenging and interesting, once the novelty wears off it is also repetitive and constant.
If you are thinking of applying for a position as a dump truck driver, you will need to get an MR (medium rigid) license, allowing you to drive rigid trucks with two axles. This will involve sitting for an exam. There are truck driving schools throughout the country that specialise in training drivers and helping them gain the necessary qualifications. Some of these will offer more advanced courses in dump truck driving. Some also offer assistance with applications for a dump truck traineeship and may be able to offer limited employment opportunities once you finish your course. Check with the school about positions available and how long you might expect to wait for a vacancy to become available. The driving courses are expensive so ask around before you sign up.
Driving a dump truck is not all that different from driving a smaller truck. Mining companies often prefer a driver who has had some experience in driving heavy trucks.
Dump truck driving has become popular with those wishing to enter the mining industry. The skills needed for driving large trucks are not too different from those required for driving smaller trucks. The skills are also achievable within a relatively short space of time. In general, mining companies would like to see a year or more of experience.
Positions are usually fly in fly out. This may mean rosters of eg eight days on and six days off. Sometimes the arrangement is two weeks on and one week off. It is normal for the mine to be operational 24 hours a day seven days a week. Employees work a 12 hour shift.
Loading in and out of the pit mine is under the control of the supervisor. Employees must be able to work as a team although they travel alone in the trucks. The trucks used are among the largest in the world with a capacity of 240 ton or more.
Access to the cabin is gained by climbing a ladder. The top of the cabin is about 5.6 metres from the ground. Once in the cab, there is little difference between it and the cab of any big truck.
Positions are generally advertised in The West Australian newspaper, Saturday edition. You can also contact the Human Resources division of any of the mining companies. Cold canvassing can also be tried. Workers are mostly recruited from Perth. However, there are plenty of appointments made in Port Hedland, Wiluna, Leinster, Kalgoorlie and Kambalda.
Employment agencies that specialise in recruiting and training mine workers can all be found on the net. At any one time, there may be several hundred dump truck driving positions available in the (mostly) open pit gold, nickel and hard rock mines. Some of the mines are small concerns located in out of the way places outside the towns.
You will need work references, and generally a police clearance. You may be asked to undergo a drug test. A three to six months training or probationary period is usual before a position becomes permanent. On satisfactory completion of this period, salary/wage levels and additional benefits will be set.
While it is not easy to get a dump truck job in Australia, your chances would be enhanced by doing some research into the driving schools. Find out which ones are successfully putting forward candidates for dump truck traineeships. Finally, give some thought as to how being away from home for extended periods will impact on your family before you apply.