An over-the-road (OTR) trucker is a truck driver who hauls freight over long distances. Such a trucker is also commonly referred to as a long-haul trucker.
Generally, OTR truckers spend a lot of time on the road because they deliver freight over long distances. Therefore, if you want to become one, you have to prepare to spend a lot of time away from home throughout the year.
Below, you will discover everything you need to know about OTR trucking.
Facts about Over the Road (OTR) Truck Driving Jobs
There is a lot of wrong information about OTR trucking out there. Some of the information can scare you off or give you the wrong impression.
For example, some people believe OTR truck drivers do not sleep or rest a lot. They do sleep and rest but they do it differently.
Below are the most important facts you need to know about OTR trucking.
A Class A CDL is a must for OTR trucking
You cannot be an over the road trucker with just a standard driving license. You need a Class A commercial driver’s license to work as a long haul driver.
There are many driving schools across the US that offer training for a Class A CDL. There are also many trucking companies that offer CDL training and then employment after graduation.
OTR trucking pays good money
Compared to local and regional trucking jobs, OTR trucking jobs pay much more. In fact, it is not rare to see relatively new OTR truckers getting paid about $35,000 a year.
Once you learn the long haul trucking job very well, you can start delivering freight faster resulting in higher pay and promotions.
Within three to five years of working as an OTR trucker, your salary can increase from around $35,000 a year to around $50,000 or $60,000 a year.
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OTR truckers are paid per mile
While most jobs across the U.S. pay by the hour, OTR trucking jobs pay per mile. The reason behind this is that employers want to pay for time spent on the actual job and not any additional time spent resting or stopping for any other reason.
While most OTR trucking jobs pay per mile, there are a number of such jobs that pay per hour. Experienced OTR truckers prefer long haul trucking jobs that pay per hour. Because such jobs tend to pay better than those that pay per mile.
OTR drivers spend a lot of time on the road
This might not be a pleasant fact to those who want to be OTR drivers but it is a fact. OTR drivers spend a lot of time on the road.
According to some estimates, the drivers spend about 300 days on the road every year. This is plenty of time away from home.
In fact, every job a long haul trucker takes is likely to keep them away from home for between several days and several weeks. Sometimes OTR drivers spend even one and a half months away from home just to complete a job.
They drive over 100K miles a year
A typical ever-busy OTR driver will easily drive more than 100,000 miles a year. This is plenty of miles. For perspective, average drivers drive about 13,500 miles a year.
The fact that OTR drivers drive over seven times the number of miles driven by the average person, shows just how demanding the job can be.
Sometimes the job can be so demanding that it takes a heavy toll on the physical and mental health of long haul drivers.
In fact, it is not rare to see OTR drivers quitting after some time because they think they cannot handle the stress or the toll any more.
Plenty of jobs on the market
While reports of driverless trucks hitting the roads soon are plenty on the mainstream media, it will be quite some time before such trucks start affecting the trucking jobs market.
In other words, before machines replace humans in trucking, there are still going to be plenty of OTR driving jobs on the market.
You will find it difficult not to find work as an OTR driver. This is regardless of the situation in the economy.
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Advice for No Experience Truck Driver
You may have to work as a trainee for some time
When you have no experience, it will be difficult for you to find a company that pays you good money. Because of this, you should be willing to work as a trainee for low pay to get the experience you need.
After working as a driver trainee and getting the experience you need, your pay will increase. Or with the experience you have gotten, you can apply for a good job with good pay wherever you want.
Your first year will be very tough
When you are new to long haul driving, you might be very excited about the whole thing at first.
However, you will quickly realize that long distance cargo hauling is not a walk in the park. It is a demanding job that will change you and your lifestyle significantly. This may make you to feel like quitting but don’t.
Because while the first year will be very tough, you will certainly adjust and find the work not to be so difficult.
If you want a long and successful truck driving career, you should drive carefully and minimize accidents especially in the first year. Accidents are quite common among first year (no-experience) drivers.
While most of them might be small incidents, they will go into your records and affect your chances of getting some lucrative jobs. So drive carefully and avoid accidents especially in the first year.
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Over The Road Equipment a Driver Must Have
OTR drivers need several things for a successful trip. The most important ones are: a sleeping bag, shower flip-flops, an emergency bathroom bag with toilet paper, a toothbrush and a toothpaste, gloves for cold days, a flashlight, drinking water, and non-perishable food.
Popular Questions & Answers!
What is an over the road trucker?
An over-the-road trucker is long haul truck driver. It is a driver who is tasked with transporting freight thousands of miles per trip.
The work often involves staying away from home for four to six weeks. Because of the nature of their work, over-the-road truckers normally get paid more than ordinary truck drivers.
How much can an over the road trucker make?
In your first year as an over-the-road truck driver, you should expect about $45,000 a year. As time goes by, you will gain experience and you will be assigned more complicated assignments.
This will obviously mean more pay. You can make as much as $60,000 a year or even $70,000 when you are experienced enough and you get employed by the right employer.
What do I need to know about OTR trucking?
OTR trucking is a great job. It is another name for long-haul trucking. It typically involves driving thousands of miles per trip. So if you have been dreaming about driving a big rig across several states, it is the job for you.
The pay is not bad. In fact, you can make around $50,000 as a newbie and as much as $70,000 with the right experience and the right employer.
While the pay is not bad, OTR trucking requires you to be physically strong and to always be alert. It also requires you to spend weeks away from home.
So if you are not willing to spend a lot of time away from home, it is not the job for you.
How long do OTR truckers stay on the road?
Typically, an OTR trucker will stay on the road for four to six weeks per trip. This is because each trip typically involves covering thousands of miles to and fro.
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What is an OTR trucker?
An OTR trucker is a long hauler trucker.
How long do OTR truckers stay on the road?
For four to six weeks per trip.
What is the average pay for OTR truck drivers?
The average hourly wage for OTR truck drivers is $31 per hour according to ziprecruiter.com. This $31 per hour converts to about $64,000 per year.
How often do OTR truckers get home?
Not very often. OTR truckers typically go back home after four to six weeks. They stay a bit and then go back out for another trip.
Where do OTR truckers sleep?
Most OTR truckers sleep in the small compartment (sleeper cab) behind their seats. The compartment is not huge but it is the perfect sleeping spot for protecting the truck and its freight.
What is the difference between OTR and dedicated?
An OTR trucking job involves driving hundreds or thousands of miles. Some assignments can be done in a week but most take much more time. Often around five weeks.
In contrast, a dedicated trucking job is one that involves trucking to the same designation every day. It is not easy to get assigned a dedicated trucking job in many trucking companies.
How many miles do OTR drivers average?
Most OTR truckers average about 2,500 miles weekly and 125,000 miles per year.
How often are you home as a truck driver?
Not very often. This is especially true if you are a long haul truck driver.
Long haul truck drivers typically spend around five weeks away per trip. After a trip, the drivers often have a break of about one week or two weeks before going away again for a couple of weeks.
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What is the average life expectancy of a truck driver?
Truck drivers have an average life expectancy of about 61 years.
Considering the fact that the average American has an average life expectancy of 78 years, a life expectancy of 61 years shows that truck drivers typically die about two decades earlier than other Americans.
This is because of several reasons including the physical stress of the job on the body, the stress related to having to deliver cargo faster, and the fact that many truck drivers are killed every year by road accidents.
About 700 truck drivers are killed every year in accidents in the United States.
What is the highest paying trucking company?
Sysco is considered the best paying trucking company. The company is involved in restaurant food supplies and it has an average annual salary of $87,000. View more truck rental guides here!
How many miles can a truck driver drive in a day?
In a day, experienced truck drivers drive between 600 and 650 miles depending on the traffic, road conditions, weather, and so on.
Since the law requires truck drivers not to drive more than eleven hours each day, it is very difficult for truck drivers to stick within truck driving speed limits and drive more than 650 miles every day.
What does a long haul trucker make?
About $60,000 per year.
What is a long haul trucker?
A long haul trucker is a long distance freight transporter. The job involves traveling hundreds or thousands of miles every trip.
How many hours a day do long haul truckers drive?
What is it like being a long haul trucker?
It is a fun job that involves moving cargo between long distances.
It provides a great satisfaction and it often involves very little interaction with your superiors making it perfect for those who thrive under minimal supervision. The pay is also great. You can make about $60,000 every year which is great.
OTR trucking is a difficult job but it is one that certainly can be done. It pays very well when done right. There are plenty of OTR trucking jobs across the USA. So if you are interested, get the right training and you will be on your way to an OTR trucking job.