Tank Car, Truck, and Ship Loader  What They Do

Just the Facts


Loads and unloads chemicals and bulk solids, such as coal, sand, and grain into or from tank cars, trucks, or ships using material moving equipment. May perform a variety of other tasks relating to shipment of products. May gauge or sample shipping tanks and test them for leaks.

This career is part of the Transportation, Distribution and Logistics cluster Transportation Operations pathway.


A person in this career:

  • Verifies tank car, barge, or truck load numbers to ensure car placement accuracy based on written or verbal instructions.
  • Observes positions of cars passing loading spouts, and swings spouts into the correct positions at the appropriate times.
  • Operates ship loading and unloading equipment, conveyors, hoists, and other specialized material handling equipment such as railroad tank car unloading equipment.
  • Monitors product movement to and from storage tanks, coordinating activities with other workers to ensure constant product flow.
  • Records operating data such as products and quantities pumped, gauge readings, and operating times, manually or using computers.
  • Checks conditions and weights of vessels to ensure cleanliness and compliance with loading procedures.
  • Operates industrial trucks, tractors, loaders and other equipment to transport materials to and from transportation vehicles and loading docks, and to store and retrieve materials in warehouses.
  • Connects ground cables to carry off static electricity when unloading tanker cars.
  • Seals outlet valves on tank cars, barges, and trucks.
  • Tests samples for specific gravity, using hydrometers, or sends samples to laboratories for testing.

Working Conditions and Physical Demands

People who do this job report that:

  • You would often handle loads up to 20 lbs., sometimes up to 50 lbs. You might do a lot of lifting, carrying, pushing or pulling.
  • Work in this occupation involves use of protective items such as safety shoes, glasses, gloves, hearing protection, a hard hat, or personal flotation devices
  • Exposure to pollutants, gases, dust, fumes, odors, poor ventilation, etc.
  • Requires getting into awkward positions
  • Lighting is either extremely bright or inadequate
  • Conditions are very hot (above 90 F) or very cold (under 32 F)
  • Work in this occupation involves using your hands to hold, control, and feel objects more than one-third of the time
  • Exposed to conditions such as high voltage electricity, combustibles, explosives, and chemicals more than once a month
  • Exposed to hazardous equipment such as saws, machinery, or vehicular traffic more than once a month
  • Exposed to hazardous situations involving possible injury such as cuts, bites, stings, and minor burns more than once a month
  • Sound and noise levels are loud and distracting
  • Work in this occupation requires being outside most of the time
  • Work in this occupation involves making repetitive motions more than one-third of the time
  • Work in this occupation involves standing more than one-third of the time
  • Work in this occupation involves walking or running more than one-third of the time
  • Work at heights above 8 feet more than once a month on structures such as ladders, poles, scaffolding, and catwalks

Working in this career involves (physical activities):

  • Picking out a particular sound in the presence of other sounds
  • Maintaining a body position that prevents falling when in an unstable position
  • Moving the arms, legs and torso together when the whole body is in motion
  • Judging how far away an object is, or which of several objects is closer or farther away
  • Bending, stretching, twisting, or reaching
  • Seeing clearly at a distance
  • Detecting sounds and hearing the differences between sounds of different pitch and loudness
  • Seeing clearly up close
  • Speaking clearly enough to be able to be understood by others
  • Identifying and understanding the speech of another person
  • Exerting oneself physically over long periods of time without getting out of breath
  • Lifting, pushing, pulling, or carrying objects
  • Using abdominal and lower back muscles repeatedly or over time without tiring

Work Hours and Travel

  • Regular working hours and limited travel

Specialty and Similar Careers

Careers that are more detailed or close to this career:

  • Bulk Tank Car Unloader --
  • Chemical Recovery Operator --
  • Load Out Person --
  • Loader --
  • Loader Operator --
  • Pumper --
  • PVC Loader (Polyvinyl Chloride Loader) --
  • Shipper --
  • Shipping and Receiving Operator --
  • Warehouse Man --