Truck Driving Jobs

What is an Over The Road (OTR) Trucker?


Getting into the world of truck driving presents numerous job opportunities. The type of lifestyle and career you want will depend on how often you wish to drive, your flexibility for hours, and how close you want to stay to home. One truck driving opportunity you may want to pursue is OTR trucking.

OTR drivers are responsible for much of our nation’s critical supply chain. It has a different challenge than being a local driver or hot shot trucker, but it offers a rewarding chance to earn a high income. Let’s dive into what being an OTR driver may mean for you.

What does OTR mean?

OTR driving stands for “over the road.” These are the professionals operating commercial trucks over long distances across states and often countries. It is common for driver in California to head to Mexico, Canada, or all the way across the U.S. to New England. These trips can last anywhere from half a day to weeks.

With all that driving, there are some different requirements to being an OTR truck driver. This is because you’ll be crossing state lines frequently and will want to follow guidelines to ensure your safety, the upkeep of your vehicles, and the well-being of your cargo.

How Does OTR Driving Differ from Other Types?

The main differences between OTR drivers and other types of commercial drivers are the distance you will travel. Local drivers tend to travel only a specific area or region. 

OTR driving also means you’ll be away from home a bit more than other drivers. Even those hot shot drivers with varying schedules get home at least once every couple of days, if not more. An OTR driver can expect to be on the road for much longer. 

OTR trucking also requires more attention to weather and road conditions. You can easily travel through the deserts of Arizona up to the mountains of Colorado in a single route. That can have massive consequences if snow is in the forecast, or you have a few days of 120+ degrees weather.

How Much Do OTR Truckers Make?

The average income for OTR rucking is between $69,000 -$85,000+*. This can vary a lot based on the load you are carrying, the distance you are traveling, and the company you are working with. It isn’t unrealistic for an experienced over the road driver to make $100,000 or more annually.

In addition, part of what is OTR driver benefits packages tend to include benefits like health insurance, retirement plans, investment opportunities, and paid time off. A good trucking company is going to go beyond and above to keep an experienced OTR driver on staff because they vital to their operation. 

What are the Job Requirements?

You must have a valid Class A CDL. This will require you to attend a driving school or some equivalent ELDT program. That can take anywhere from a few weeks to a couple of months.

In addition, you will need to:

  • Be at least 21 years old (required to travel across state lines)
  • Have a clean driving record
  • Pass a drug and alcohol screening
  • Pass a DOT physical exam
  • Be able to lift and move heavy objects
  • Be able to sit for long periods

What are the OTR Driving Benefits?

Once you secure a good training program, you can easily break into the OTR trucking field. Building up a few months of driving experience on a team can easily lead to higher pay and more opportunities. Other benefits can include: 

1 – Excellent Pay

OTR drivers have the potential to earn a higher income than some other diving jobs. It is also rewarding to provide your family with the health insurance and vacation time needed to maintain a good connection. 

2 – Job Security

The job outlook for OTR truck drivers is fantastic and only expected to get better in the coming years. This is especially true in today’s post-pandemic world. Everyone now realizes how critical truck drivers are to our economic durability. 

3 – Meeting New People

Being an OTR trucking professional will cause you to interact with all types of people from a wide array of backgrounds. You will learn about the nation’s cultures and segments that most others may have never experienced before. This leads to a richer, more exciting lifestyle. 

4 – Advancement Opportunities

The more you drive, the better your chances of earning the highest-paying routes and loads. There is plenty of work to go around, so your ability to increase the value you bring to a company is high. That will lead to more earning potential and benefits.

Get Your OTR Driving Career Started

Becoming an OTR trucking professional is not as hard as some may think. As long as you get your CDL and work with a team that gives you experience, you can break into this field and start earning a decent income.

If you would like to learn more about OTR trucking and how you can build a career in this industry, fill out the form below.


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