What is LTL shipping?


Businesses across all industries need to manage the transportation of their goods at some point in the distribution process. Less than truckload or LTL freight shipping is a method businesses use to transport goods that are too small for a full truckload yet too big for the average carrier. It provides a more cost-effective and efficient way to transport goods.

LTL freight shipping can be a beneficial career option for drivers who like diversity in their day-to-day. What exactly is LTL freight shipping, and what makes this shipping option unique?  

What is LTL shipping?

Less than truckload or LTL freight shipping provides a service for businesses that don’t need a full truckload to transport their goods. Filling up an entire truckload doesn’t always make logistical sense. LTL freight shipping services fill trucks with multiple business products allowing each business to only pay their portion of the space used. It’s a great option that benefits both the customer and the carrier without wasting space or resources.

An LTL freight shipping option is ideal for loads between 150 and 15,000 pounds. For truck drivers, this kind of load consists of multiple shipments of variable sizes and weights to make up one full truckload. Meaning multiple destinations with more pickups, drop-offs, and terminal stops than the average full truckload driver. 

Pros and cons of LTL shipping?

For most truck drivers on a standard full truckload job, it means days on the roads away from home. With LTL freight shipping, most businesses are regional or local, meaning you remain closer to home. Most LTL drivers are home daily or several days during the week.

You also will likely work with dedicated customers.  This allows for consistent routes, pay and time at home.  

While staying closer to your home as a driver is great, LTL does involve some challenges. Working with multiple customers, means more drop-offs and pickups. With multiple destinations, you could sit in traffic or wait for someone to receive the load at each location. Any delays could potentially cause a loss productivity and pay.

What it expect with LTL shipping?

What does a day in the life of an LTL freight shipping driver look like? Driving trucks can be challenging, and LTL freight shipping is a unique job that, while it allows you to work closer to home, can be challenging in other areas. LTL drivers start their day at a warehouse where the LTL shipments for the local businesses await. 

Often the pallets and products are often reloaded by an overnight crew, and you, as a driver, must review your route and get prepped for the road. This includes a thorough pre-trip inspection and ensuring you have the necessary paperwork. 

After the LTL truck is ready for you, you head out to make your deliveries. Each delivery has an expected delivery window in which the destination can be prepared to receive the shipment. The receiving warehouse will have a crew to help unload and inspect the shipment before signing the proof of delivery and moving on to the next. If a location can’t accept a delivery for any reason, you move on to the next location. Usually, the customer is charged if they cannot receive the shipment on the first attempt and the shipment is attempted the next day.

After all the deliveries have been made, you can enjoy lunch and pick up any scheduled pickups. LTL freight shipping will try to save money on labor by scheduling pickups on similar delivery routes for efficiency. 

Once all the deliveries have been picked up, you return to the warehouse to drop off the pallets or products, where the team can review and get them ready for the next shipment out. LTL drivers manage a lot of variables in this position. As a driver, you need to manage a variety of shipments, locations, and any unplanned circumstances to make the delivery on top every day. 

How much do LTL drivers make?

According to ZipRecruiter, LTL freight shipping jobs vary in compensation and, on average, can see an annual salary of $53,263* a year. There are many variables to consider with an LTL truck driving job, including any benefits, bonus structures, and whether you’re paid annually or hourly. 

LTL freight shipping can be a convenient, efficient, and cost-efficient option for businesses to transport their goods. LTL shipping is rapidly becoming an ideal option across all industries. The market is growing to open up opportunities for more drivers to take advantage of an option that allows them to have consistency and work closer to home.

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*Pay information based on ATA Compensation Study.


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