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.
- 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.
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.
- Drive carefully
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.
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?
OTR (Over The Road) truckers typically stay on the road for a very long time. They time they stay on the road is often four to six weeks.
This means four to six weeks without one seeing their family. They usually spend their off-times in motels or their sleeper trucks.
What is an OTR trucker?
An OTR trucker is a long distance trucker. OTR stands for Over The Road. The typical OTR trucker spends a lot of time on the road without seeing their family.
However, they are paid well for their time and their successful deliveries.
How long do OTR truckers stay on the road?
Generally, true OTR truckers spend between four to six weeks (about a month) working away from home.
They take a lot of time away from home because they cannot come back home every day or weekend while delivering cargo or products hundreds if not thousands of kilometers away.
What is the average pay for OTR truck drivers?
OTR truck drivers are generally better compensated compared to regular truck drivers. The new ones get compensated at about $25 per hour, while the experienced ones get compensated at about $31 per hour.
So if you want to make more money as a truck driver you should try OTR truck driving.
How often do OTR truckers get home?
Not very often. OTR truckers typically go back home after about one month of work. They stay a bit and then go back out for another trip.
They work away from home for most of the time because they typically deliver goods about 1,000 to 1,500 miles away.
It legally takes about ten to fourteen days to get to such destinations. And coming back takes another ten to fourteen days hence the total of about one month.
Where do OTR truckers sleep?
Most OTR truckers drive trucks with a sleeper cab. They are usually given sleeper cab trucks because these trucks have a truckers sleeping space behind the driving compartment.
So most truckers can sleep comfortably without having to leave their trucks or spend money on a motel room.
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?
OTR truckers average between 1,000 to 2,000 miles a week. In other words, they typically cover between 300 to 400 miles a day.
The reason why they do not cover more miles per day is the law. They are required to work not more than a specific time a day and to take rests every few hours to ensure they are not fatigued.
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.
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 the highest paying trucking company in the USA. The company is primarily involved in food supplies and its truck drivers have an average salary of $87,000 per year.
It is assumed that the company pays its drivers highly because of the time-sensitive nature of the goods they are transporting.
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?
Long haul truckers make about $65,000 a year. This is quite decent for a job like trucking. There are some that make as much as $87,000 a year.
The truckers who make this much are usually those who have been hired for a long time or are using an owner-operator model.
What is a long haul trucker?
A long haul trucker is simply a trucker who is paid to transport cargo over a long distance. These truckers often cover over 1,500 miles per week and stay away from home for between four to six weeks.
That is, traveling hundreds or thousands of miles every trip. So being a trucker is a demanding job but it is also rewarding job because the pay is often good.
How many hours a day do long haul truckers drive?
Long haul drivers are expected to drive not more than 11 hours a day (within 24 hours).
The reason is that there is a law restricting them from driving longer than 11 hours a day because of fatigue.
Moreover, the law also prevents drivers from driving longer than 600 miles a day.
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.
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