After obtaining a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL), truck drivers are faced with a multitude of career options, as the trucking industry consistently welcomes new drivers and presents them with abundant opportunities for growth. However, the question arises: How can they make the right decision for their future?
Choosing whether you want to be a local, regional, or OTR driver depends entirely on your own goals and preferences. All of these positions have certain pros and cons which need to be considered before making a decision. Allow us to assist you in this process by thoroughly examining over-the-road (OTR) trucking, its pros and cons, the career opportunities it provides, and all other nuances.
What Is, Actually, OTR Trucking?
Over-the-road trucking, also known as long-haul trucking, is a type of career that requires truck drivers to transport freight over longer distances. Large trucking companies typically employ OTR drivers to cover all 48 contiguous states, delivering various types of loads to diverse destinations.
This kind of job can be extremely challenging, particularly due to the time spent away from home. On the other hand, it offers numerous career growth opportunities and the excitement of exploring new areas. In addition to great driving skills, truckers who desire to go OTR must possess impeccable time-management and organizational abilities, as they need to cross large distances in a limited amount of time while following DOT Hours of Service regulations.
What Is Required to Become an OTR Truck Driver?
Most OTR companies require the same qualifications for new drivers:
- Class A Commercial Driver’s License (CDL);
- Clean driving record;
- Knowledge of road safety regulations;
- Strong communication skills;
- Problem-solving skills;
- Time management and organizational skills.
Major transportation companies working with reputable customers may also prefer drivers with one, two, or more years of experience. Therefore, young drivers are usually advised to begin their careers as regional drivers or trainees as part of a team.
What Are the Pros of Being an OTR Truck Driver?
Better pay - Compared to local and regional drivers, OTR truck drivers are typically rewarded with significantly higher pay. While salary can vary based on factors like past experience and the type of trailer they handle, OTR drivers generally earn more due to the longer distances they cover and less frequent home time.
Discovering new horizons - Traveling the same routes day after day can become incredibly monotonous. That’s why many drivers choose OTR trucking over local or regional options. OTR jobs offer drivers the opportunity to explore the country from coast to coast while doing what they are truly passionate about. This type of trucking allows drivers to enjoy scenic views, document their journeys, and meet new people along the way.
Individuality & independence - One of the enticing aspects that attract drivers to choose an over-the-road job is the freedom it provides. While there may be pickup and delivery appointments that require punctuality, you can create your own schedule and organize your driving time according to your preferences. For instance, as an OTR truck driver, you have the flexibility to drive during the night if that suits you better. Moreover, certain companies (such as AAA Freight, Inc.) allow truckers to select the loads they want to take, ensuring they are safe from forced dispatch.
You’re not responsible for loading & unloading - OTR truck drivers are usually exempt from the task of loading and unloading their trailers. In most cases, shippers and receivers will take care of the cargo, enabling you to focus solely on driving and meeting appointments on time.
An abundance of job opportunities - The demand for OTR drivers remains consistently high, making them able to choose between various companies that offer different types of pay and benefits.
But What About the Cons?
Less home time - Regarding work-life balance, OTR trucking can be quite challenging. OTR truck drivers spend the majority of their time away from home since they need to be constantly on the move, delivering cargo from one part of the country to another. While some companies may allow drivers to negotiate their home time, it’s important to note that compared to regional and local truckers, OTR truckers won’t be able to return home nearly as frequently. Data shows that just 3.2% of the OTR drivers get weekly home time. If you are someone who enjoys spending a lot of time at home, this would perhaps be too big of a sacrifice to make.
Loneliness - While some truckers enjoy individuality, traveling alone for extended periods is not an easy task. OTR truckers don’t have a lot of time for socializing and hanging out with friends. However, drivers who don’t want to drive alone can always opt for team trucking, as it provides them with company and continuous support on the road.
Fatigue - The combination of insufficient home time, loneliness, and excessive mileage can contribute to driver fatigue and burnout. This is a significant problem, as it causes tens of thousands of crashes in the United States every year. Fatigue can lead to slower reaction times and impaired decision-making, but also mental health issues such as depression.
How Difficult Is It To Find a Job as an OTR Trucker?
Let’s not beat around the bush - it’s quite easy! As we have already mentioned before, the demand for OTR truck drivers is constantly high, and there is a wide variety of employment options available. New truckers are able to choose what type of trailer they want to pull, what kind of cargo they would like to carry, whether they want to drive solo or within a team, and so on.
For example, AAA Freight, Inc. is continuously looking to expand its fleet by hiring skilled drivers, who are willing to do their best while getting 24/7 support from our experts, on and off the road. Join us today!
So, Is OTR Trucking the Right Career Path for Me?
There’s no comprehensive answer, as this largely depends on your own preferences. If your focus is on income and career growth, OTR trucking is definitely the right choice. With numerous employment options, the best salaries the industry can offer, and freedom on the road, you have all the resources you need to succeed. However, if you like to spend a lot of time at home and you aren’t willing to sacrifice your social life to a certain extent, you should perhaps consider other options, such as local and regional trucking jobs.