Driving trucks may be a lifelong dream for some truckers, while others simply prefer life on the road. From long-haul adventures on the open road to local routes that keep you close to home, the path to your dream truck driving career starts with making an informed choice.
Even though the trucking industry is hard, it is not an all-or-nothing job. There are three major types of driving jobs available: local, regional, and over-the-road (OTR). These jobs have similarities, but certain differences make it an important decision for all new drivers when considering career options. Each type has its own unique set of conditions, such as how much money you make, how much time you spend away from home, and the options you have for your daily and weekly schedule.
What if we tell you that understanding these variables and how they impact a truck driver’s life is essential to striking a work-life balance? Intrigued? Keep reading to understand all different types of truck driving jobs: OTR, Regional, and Local.
Here’re The Stark Differences Between: OTR, Regional, And Local Truck Driving Jobs
When it comes to truck driving jobs, it’s essential to understand the distinctions between OTR (Over-the-Road), regional, and local positions. Each type of truck driving job comes with its unique set of work demands. Here’s a brief overview of the core responsibilities and work demands for these three prominent paths in the trucking industry.
1. OTR (Over-the-Road) Truck Driving Jobs:
OTR truckers go to 48 states while driving for 21 to 30 days at a time, covering vast distances across states or even the entire country. Their core work demand includes driving for extended periods, adhering to strict delivery schedules, and navigating diverse road and weather conditions.
OTR drivers must have excellent time management skills, be self-reliant, and possess the ability to handle solitude during extended periods away from home.
In addition, they generally get 34 hours of rest for every 70 hours they work. The most significant advantage to the OTR career route is that, out of the three main truck driver career pathways, it offers the best earning potential.
2. Regional Truck Drivers:
In contrast to OTR truckers, regional truck drivers travel shorter distances and on smaller roadways than local ones. Regional drivers operate within a specific geographic region, often covering multiple states or a designated area.
Their work demand involves transporting goods and materials over shorter distances. Regional drivers are responsible for maintaining consistent delivery schedules, managing multiple stops, and building relationships with regional customers. They must be familiar with their assigned region, have good organizational skills, and exhibit flexibility to adapt to varying delivery requirements. The most significant advantage to a regional driver job path is that it strikes a balance between personal hobbies, work duties, and earning potential.
3. Local Drivers:
Local truck drivers travel short, 8–10 hour trips so that they may return home each evening, undertake multiple stops throughout their workday or you can say their routes are often within a 200-mile radius. Their primary work demand involves efficient and punctual transportation of goods, typically within close proximity, ensuring prompt deliveries to local businesses, distribution centers, and retail stores.
However, it varies widely how and how much you are paid. Most local drivers make considerably less than their OTR and regional drivers, though some local drivers can earn more than average pay in particular, specialized sections of the industry.
A Few Day-To-Day Common Driving Duties
As per the hours of service (HOS) regulation by Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), all three career options have a typical workday that last up to 14 hours on-duty. In 2010 FMCSA proposed a maximum 11 hours of driving per day including 30 minutes of mandatory break and day-to-day routines like pre-and post-trip inspections, loading and unloading, adhering to regulations concerning hours of service, as well as interacting with customers. The amount of flexibility you have with your trucker work schedule depends on the load and unload timings as well as the professional route you choose.
A typical driver expects an average driving time of 40 to 60 hours per week, as safety regulations limit drivers to a maximum of 70 hours over eight days or 60 hours over seven days. Some companies get drivers home every weekend for 50 hours, while others have cycles of 14 days and 7 days off. At TruckBook, we connect truckers looking for jobs with companies actively hiring CDL A drivers. You can search for recently posted jobs by top companies hiring across America and apply with just one click.
The Road To Become A Professional Truck Driver
Do you envision yourself as a professional truck driver? Let’s understand what it takes to hit the highways and embrace the trucking lifestyle. As you navigate the highways, here are the essential skills, qualifications, and licensing requirements for over-the-road, regional, and local drivers:
Over-the-Road (OTR) Drivers:
- Skills: Master the art of long-haul driving, staying focused during extended trips, and adapting to diverse road conditions.
- Qualifications: Hold a valid Commercial Driver’s License (CDL), often with endorsements for multiple trailers and hazardous materials.
- Licensing: Comply with Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulations and be prepared to cross state lines with your freight.
- Skills: Hone your expertise in navigating specific regions, making frequent stops, and building lasting customer relationships.
- Qualifications: Possess a CDL appropriate for the size and weight of regional shipments, along with endorsements as required.
- Licensing: Ensure compliance with regional transportation authorities and stay updated on state-specific regulations.
- Skills: Perfect the art of maneuvering through urban streets, managing tight delivery schedules, and providing exceptional customer service.
- Qualifications: Obtain a suitable CDL for local routes and vehicles, meeting specific state or city requirements.
- Licensing: Stay informed about local ordinances and obtain any additional permits necessary for specialized deliveries.
However, a fancy diploma degree is not required to start your trucking career. Whether you’re aiming for regional, local, or OTR routes, your determination and skills matter more than any piece of paper.
But here’s the catch, different categories of drivers have specific requirements and age limits. When applying for a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL), you must be at least 18 years old. That’s the first pit stop on your driving journey. If you want to conquer state lines, you’ll need to pump the brakes until you reach the age of 21. That’s when the highways truly open up to you.
Average Truck Driver Salary Per Mile in 2023
The average annual salary for truck drivers is $84,356. However, your earnings can vary significantly based on several factors, such as:
- The type of truck you drive
- Lanes and Route type
- Your Experience Level
- Specialize Endorsement
The go-to method for your hard-earned cash is cents per mile. Why is it so popular, you ask? Well, it offers flexibility, efficiency, and a rewarding paycheck. While many companies are paying weekly, that open road just got even more enticing.
Pay Scale for Truck Drivers by Route Type
OTR drivers travel for weeks at a time but make the most money. Regional drivers will typically stay local, allowing them to return home on the weekends. Local drivers are paid the least but can typically drive each night and stay in their state.
- Average Salary: $0.44 – $0.58 per mile
- Driving Time: Up to 3,000 miles per week
- Home Time: 3.2% of the OTR drivers get weekly home time.
- Average Salary: $0.37 – $0.55 per mile
- Driving Time: Up to 2,800 miles per week
- Home Time: 60.3% of the regional drivers get weekly home time.
- Average Salary: $0.42 – $0.71 per mile
- Driving Time: Up to 2,500 miles per week
- Home Time: 52.3% of the regional drivers get weekly home time.
According to indeed.com recent data, the truck driver’s compensation ranges from $48,970 to $145,312 yearly. Truck drivers’ earning potential is influenced by their employment, their driving history, and the kinds of loads they haul. Even more, money is possible for drivers who are prepared to work in remote locations or through further endorsements.
The road to your dream truck driving career begins with making an informed choice among the three major types of driving jobs: OTR, Regional, and Local. Whether you’re drawn to the allure of long-haul adventures across the country, the balance of regional routes and lasting customer relationships, or the comfort of returning home each night with local trips, there’s a path that fits your preferences and goals.
Remember, as you navigate the highways and embrace the trucking lifestyle, your determination and skills matter more than any formal degree. Whether you’re hitting the open road for weeks or making prompt deliveries to local businesses, your passion and perseverance will fuel your success.