Is Long Haul Trucking Right for Me? – Everything you need to know about driving truck

December 19, 2021

An over the road (OTR) trucker drives long distances. They deliver goods and cargo. OTR truckers travel across state lines and even internationally. Sometimes into the borders of Canada and Mexico.

While deciding if long haul trucking is right for you, you need to know that an OTR truck drivers cover a 250-mile radius. However,  many find longer distances more rewarding. According to a survey, truckers mostly enjoy traveling on rural highways. Routes that span over 1000 miles are best for truck drivers to make the most money.

A majority of OTR truckers drive in fleets or . These can be part of  a third-party trucking company or a brand fleet. Organizational structures help coordinate shipments and simplify trucking jobs for drivers. A dedicated dispatcher will find cargo and distribute them across company drivers. With this system, the drivers can focus on the road.

Is long haul trucking a good career?

Long-haul trucking has plenty of opportunities for career advancement. There is a high demand for truck drivers. You  must understand, however, the unique challenges of the trucker lifestyle before deciding if it is good for you. You must factor in the challenges they face and what the work entails.

Long-haul trucking has many rewards. You get to travel and have plenty of autonomy. Truckers enjoy being in control of  big rig vehicles and freedom on the road.

Long haul trucking is a rewarding career that comes with a high salary, freedom and independence. The national average for the trucking industry is $53,000. But some industries and companies will offer more to experienced drivers. There is high job security for long-haul truckers. The Bureau of Labor Statistics cites that the trucking industry will grow by 5% by 2028.

Long-haul trucking is a significant part of the transportation economy. Truck drivers move 71% of all freight in America. They play a critical role in the supply chain. There is also  an increasing demand for more truck drivers.

In 2018 there was a shortage of 68,000 truck drivers, according to data from the American Trucking Association (ATA). The shortage  is expected to increase to 160,000 by 2028. The ATA also said  that long-haul truck shortage is due to the retirement of veteran drivers.

What does it take to be a long haul trucker?

If you’re considering becoming an OTR trucker, you can:

  • Enjoy the freedom of being on the open road. 
  • Visit exciting places across the USA and get paid to do it!

But first, you need to find the best truck trainer near you. These training schools prepare you to receive your commercial driver’s license (CDL). You will learn everything about truck driver duties and responsibilities.

Truckers must get a CDL Class A license. Some companies will even need drivers to have a high school diploma. But otherwise, it is the only requirement  for truck drivers you need to get started on your career.

You will be working alongside a driver-trainer in your first company. This will happen  after you complete CDL training school. You will learn from experienced drivers and go with them on trips. It can be a challenge since drivers enjoy their solitude. But this training provides crucial real-world experience.

New truck drivers often have to gain experience for a year or two before they can move on to more challenging assignments. Company fleets will usually assign new drivers the least lucrative cargoes. New drivers must prove themselves trustworthy enough to drive more valuable cargo. It is a way to determine if they’re  focused and cautious enough to handle more oversized loads.

What is an owner-operater?

There are two types of professional truck drivers on the road. These are company drivers and owner operator truck drivers. Trucking companies hire company drivers. In contrast, owner-operators run the business themselves. Hence the name owner - operator.

Both career paths are an excellent way to earn a living. However,  there are some key differences. Most truck drivers are commercial drivers. Only one in nine is independent. You will need to evaluate  your skills, personal and financial needs before you make a decision. It will help you decide which route is best for you.

An owner operator is a self employed truck driver.  They transport goods for customers but are considered independent and do not work under a specific company.  Instead they manage both the driving and the day to day operations of operating the business.

If you are wondering how much do owner operator's make per year? we wrote a whole article on that topic that you can check out right here => how much do owner operators make?

Owner operators are typically responsible for their own insurance costs, taxes, vehicle registrations, vehicle maintenance and hiring employees.

Many owner-operators start as company drivers before becoming independent. This  doesn’t mean you can’t start your trucking career as an owner-operator. The knowledge and skills you need for each job are the same.

What challenges do truck drivers face?

  • Fuel costs

Tractor-trailers can consume nearly 20,000 gallons of diesel fuel per year. The cost is high. Yearly expenses can easily exceed $50,000.

Trucking companies typically give their drivers a designated credit card when buying fuel. Fueling costs are one of the most significant expenses of owner-operators. One way to save money on fuel is to drive efficiently. By optimizing routes and reducing idle time, drivers can save money on fuel. It also improves their carbon footprint.

  • Hours compliance

There are regulations and guidelines about hours of service (HOS). It helps OTR truckers manage their hours. The goal of HOS is to reduce fatigue and prevent accidents. The HOS rule dictates how many hours truckers can drive at a time. It specifies the length of rest periods between travels.

Trucks are required to use electronic logging gadgets, also known as ELDs. It tracks vehicle activity, such as engine performance. This ensures that drivers are in compliance with HOS regulations and rest after they’ve been on the road for a certain number of hours..

  • Rejected shipments

OTR truckers will sometimes have to deal with rejected shipments. The cargo may be improperly loaded, or the goods may be spoiled. Delayed deliveries are also an issue. Shipments are worth thousands of dollars. This means  it can be devastating to owner-operators that have to deal with these costs.

How much do long haul truck drivers make?

  • Ice road trucking- This niche in trucking can earn between $30,000 and $40,000 in just three months. Ice road truckers are some of the highest-paid drivers there are. But the astounding salary comes at a cost. It can be a hazardous job.
  • Hazmat- Another risky but profitable trucking job is Hazmat hauling. Hazmat truckers transport  hazardous materials such as gases and corrosive substances. These volatile materials need careful handling for safe delivery. Because of this, drivers are well compensated.
  • Tankers- Liquids don’t have to  be hazardous for drivers to be  paid well for transporting them. Some tanker drivers haul reactive liquids. Other  drivers will only be delivering liquids such as water or milk. Any significant amount of fluid is challenging to transport. This is why tanker truckers can easily earn over $100,000 especially during time of high demand.


 Long-haul trucking is an in-demand and well-paid career. It is the best job for someone who loves to travel. Of course, you may be spending hours alone on the road. This  may not be an issue, though, if you are someone who enjoys solitude. Build your skills and knowledge in this career by enrolling in a trucking school. You will be enjoying the benefits of a lucrative career in no time.

About the author

I’m Luis Uribe, author of this website. I am the owner and head publisher for Trucker Daily and a freight brokerage Total Connection Logistics. I have been in and around the trucking industry for over 15 years. It is my mission with Trucker daily to equip truck drivers, with the latest in industry updates, news, and helpful tips to help further your trucking career and life. Whether you are a truck driving veteran, or beginner, you will find information on this site to save you a lot of time in your driving journey.

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