The duties of a tow truck operator consist of communicating with a dispatcher, driving to the scene of an accident or breakdown, connecting the vehicle to the tow truck, and transporting it back to the service station or junkyard. The driver will be responsible for attaching the disabled vehicle to the tow truck. Depending on the type of tow truck, this may include using a chain, winch, steering locks, and other devices as well as affixing lights onto the towed vehicle.
Drivers will interact with customers, speaking to them about their automotive problems, potentially diagnosing the cause, and providing necessary assistance. As such, a tow truck operator will need to be able to communicate well and will need to have a basic knowledge of cars and automotive parts. Many tow truck drivers will perform small repairs on the scene of a breakdown such as changing tires, reconnecting parts, or jumpstarting the car. Some familiarity with automotive maintenance and repair may be required, but most of it can be learned on the job. The driver will also have to write up reports of services rendered and accept payments.
Job Qualifications and Compensation
At the very least, candidates must have a valid driver’s license and a record of safe driving to become a tow truck operator. Other qualifications vary by state and employer. In general, you should be at least 18 years old and have a high school diploma or the equivalent. Prior work experience isn’t normally required, but having experience in trucking or automotive repair is always a plus. A basic understanding of cars and automotive maintenance is another advantage when applying for towing jobs. In some states, you may have to obtain a special operator’s license or certification from the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). This will largely depend on the type and size of the towing vehicle you will drive. Further certification can be obtained through The Towing and Recovery Association of America (TRAA). After passing an examination, you will be issued a certificate making you much more competitive in the towing job market.
Salary / Pay
Tow truck operators start at an average of $12.00 to $16.00 an hour, depending on employer and experience. Applicants with more experience and certifications will, of course, begin at a higher pay rate. Both part-time and full-time positions are available in the towing industry. Full-time workers will receive a host of benefits like healthcare coverage, a 401(k) plan, and paid time off. Part-time employees may also receive benefits, but these will also vary by employer.