Starting a trucking career means making unusual sacrifices. Some tradeoffs are manageable, but more often than not you are embracing a new lifestyle that requires adapting. With that in mind, it’s worth the extra consideration and research to know the different types of truck driving jobs.
The Most Common Types of Trucking
Every truck driver has different needs, making it difficult to pick a one-size-fits-all job. If you have a family or hobbies, you might strive for a job that gives you a better work-life balance. Others may gleam at the opportunity for long hours on the road.
Over-the-road (OTR) driving is one of the most recognized trucking occupations. These truck drivers haul freight across the country and into Canada for long stretches at a time. OTR truckers have an average starting salary of $45,000 annually. Aside from good pay, OTR trucking allows you to travel the country and see it from a very unique lens. If you enjoy the nomadic experience and are fine with a typically heavy freight load, OTR trucking can be a rewarding career.
Contrary to OTR trucking, regional drivers are delivering freight in a defined area such as the Midwest or Northeast. Within these smaller regions, the nature of the work is virtually the same as OTR trucking. One difference is a slightly lower starting salary. If you need to be closer to home and want slightly more flexibility than OTR trucking allows, becoming a regional driver is a good alternative.
Local Trucking and Dedicated Routes
Local truck driving is often the best option for drivers with families. This designation guarantees that you’ll be home every night after your standard 8-10 hour shift. This allows for a greater work-life balance which can be difficult to achieve on the road. It’s also the only option for many new CDL drivers. In-state driving often allows those under the age of 21 to drive while OTR trucking requires you to be over 21 years of age in most states.
Similarly, you could be driving dedicated routes from point A to point B for a predictable job that offers the same flexibility. Dedicated routes can always be a plus. You become more acquainted with the company you work for as you routinely meet the same employees at loading and unloading.
Making a Choice
Before you decide on any of these trucker paths, one thing is certain. You’ll need to train for the job and get your CDL. Some employees are lucky enough for their company to fund a truck driving training program. Another point worth considering universally is the type of load you’ll be carrying. There’s a big difference between a “drop-and-hook” and a live load. Opting for the former choice might save you hours of waiting in a loading dock when you could be halfway to your destination. Ultimately, each individual has different needs.