Why Trucking

What is Hot Shot Trucking?


If you’ve ever dreamed of driving big rigs across the country, but don’t have the patience for long-haul trucking or prefer to have more control over your own schedule, then hot shot trucking might be for you.

Hot shot trucking is often used for freight that needs to be delivered quickly, or when the size or weight of the shipment doesn’t require a full truckload. Hotshot trucking often done with a pickup truck, cargo van, or a flatbed trailer.

While this sounds like an idyllic lifestyle for many people who love to drive (or are just looking for a career change), there are also some challenges to driving a hot shot truck. Let’s dive into the details so you can decide if hot shot trucking is right for you.

Is Hot Shot Trucking Worth It?

The answer to this question largely depends on your personal preferences, work ethic, and financial goals. Hot shot trucking can be a rewarding venture for individuals who seek independence, enjoy being on the road, and appreciate the thrill of meeting tight deadlines. It can also be a great option for those who want to start a small business within the trucking industry without investing in a full-scale fleet.

However, it’s important to acknowledge that hot shot trucking demands dedication and hard work. As an owner-operator in the hot shot business, you’ll be responsible for managing not only the driving but also the administrative tasks, maintenance of your vehicle, and customer relations. Success in this industry relies on building strong relationships with shippers and clients, as well as delivering goods safely and on time.

Hot shot delivery gives you the opportunity choose your own load, route, and schedule. This means you are free to take on whatever type of job you want. Some of the more common benefits include:

  • The flexibility to choose your own routes depending on the current marketplace needs and network of connections you have cultivated.
  • A higher pay scale due to the time-sensitive nature of every delivery.
  • The independence to function on your own away from other teams or large trucking companies.
  • A lot of driving variety with routes and loads frequently changing due to demand.
  • Plenty of entrepreneurial opportunities for you to leverage and grow a business.
  • Fewer competitors due to the high intensity of the delivery times.

Do you Need a CDL to be a Hot Shot Driver?

The need for a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) depends on the weight of your truck and trailer, as well as the combined weight of your truck, trailer, and cargo. In the United States, any vehicle or combination of vehicles with a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of 26,001 pounds or more requires a CDL. However, specific regulations may vary from country to country, so it’s essential to research the requirements in your jurisdiction.

If you plan to operate a hot shot trucking business with a smaller truck and trailer, you might be able to avoid obtaining a CDL. But keep in mind that some clients or brokers may prefer to work with drivers who possess a CDL, as it demonstrates a higher level of professionalism and experience.

Do Hot Shot Drivers Make Good Money?

One of the most enticing aspects of hot shot trucking is its profit potential. While earnings can vary based on factors like the number of loads you haul, the distance traveled, and the rates you negotiate, many hot shot drivers can make good money.

Due to the time-sensitive nature of hot shot loads, clients often pay a premium for the expedited service. As a result, hot shot trucking rates per mile are generally higher than standard freight rates. However, keep in mind that success in this industry requires consistency in finding loads, managing operating costs, and delivering exceptional service to retain clients and gain repeat business.

What Type of Equipment do You Need For Hot Shot Trucking?

Unlike other expedited trucking that utilizes a tractor-trailer, a hot shot trucker can use various truck types. However, the most commonly uses is a one-ton pickup trucks classified as “medium-duty” by the Federal Highway Administration. While these trucks are generally classified as non-commercial vehicles, you can use them for hot shot trucking if you have an operating authority, a USDOT number (if you’re hauling over state lines) and liability insurance.

The Lifestyle of a Hot Shot Trucker?

The lifestyle of a hot shot trucker can be demanding, as they are often on the road for extended periods and may have to work long hours.

However, hot shot truckers can choose their own loads and routes, which allows them to tailor their career to their individual preferences. Hot shot truckers may haul various goods, including construction materials, oil and gas equipment, and agricultural products. Hot shot truckers also must deal with tight delivery schedules and unexpected challenges on the road, such as bad weather or traffic.

The typical day is highly dependent on the jobs available and quotes you can secure. You are essentially bidding out your services for companies to decide on. They will look at your history and official driving record to consider if your proposed price is worth their current load.

How to Start Hot Shot Trucking?

Starting a career in hot shot trucking may involve obtaining a CDL and gaining experience driving a commercial vehicle. The first step is to research the requirements in your state, such as passing a series of tests and meeting other qualifications like passing a medical exam and background check. It’s also a good idea to research the industry and familiarize yourself with the FMCSA regulations and DOT requirements.

You will want to speak with someone already involved in the industry or find an equivalent mentor. This is a busy marketplace, and navigating the ins and outs of securing a job may be confusing the first couple of times around.

You have to remember this career does come with challenges. Your schedule will be unstable, and you will have to comply with many more insurance issues to get the most valuable jobs. However, with the right preparation and training, you can easily earn over $100,000 in busy areas of the country. You can make good money being a hot shot trucking driver.

If this sounds like something you might want to try out, speak with our team at DRC. We have experience in all areas of trucking and can offer you solid advice as well as excellent quality training to get you up and running in a truck driving career, including hot shot trucking.


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