When you’re stuck in the snow or broke down on the side of the road, the tow truck driver is your best friend in the world. But how does someone go about breaking into the towing industry? Could driving a tow truck be your next career move?
Towing might seem like a macho profession that requires more brawn than brains, but it takes careful planning to navigate the multitude of situations a tow driver might encounter in even a single day on the job. A tow truck is a complex piece of equipment, and operating it effectively means putting in the time to earn your credentials.
Education and Licensing
Towing can encompass a number of different tasks. The type of jobs you will perform will determine what licensing and education requirements you need to meet to become a professional tow truck driver.
Many tow companies require you to earn a commercial driver’s license before you can set foot on the job. The potential exception to this is if you will be driving a small truck and only performing jobs on commuter vehicles. The big money in towing, though, comes with operating wreckers and assisting large vehicles that find themselves in a pinch, so it might be worth your time to earn that CDL.
Most tow companies will also require you to have your General Education Degree. Since towing doesn’t require a college degree, it is an accessible profession for many people, but don’t kid yourself — you will be required to make sense of complicated situations and think creatively on the job. There is a serious mental component to towing.
Finally, you need to earn your Tow Truck Driver Certification. This qualification shows that you have completed the mandatory program for your state. Some states have their own programs, but those that do not likely require a certification from Wreckmaster Certification and Towing and Recovery Association of America.
Getting a Tow Truck
Perhaps the most important thing you need to be a tow truck driver is a tow truck! Wreckers, as they are referred to in the industry, are classified into three different categories, light, medium and heavy-duty. There are sub-categories within each class.
While most tow trucks roll off the production line ready to begin tackling jobs, it is possible to convert a conventional truck for use as a wrecker. To make the conversion, you can install a wheel lift on your pickup for a fraction of the price of a dedicated towing rig.
Of course, performing a conversion is only one option. For specialized jobs, or as you progress in your career and want the ability to pull large vehicles like semi trucks, a dedicated wrecker will be required.
If you enjoy helping people and aren’t afraid of long hours on the open road, towing might be the perfect job for you. People will be battling car trouble as long as there are cars on the road, so you don’t have to worry about running out of work.