How To Become An OTR Truck Driver

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Published on
April 23, 2022
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Interested in a Truck Driving Career?

Long-distance truck driving is an exciting vocation that could appeal to many people. To reply to the principal unambiguous question, cash might be advantageous, particularly in the current economic climate. Moreover, it allows drivers to go out of their hometowns and explore different parts of the country along their route.

An over-the-road (OTR) truck driver refers to a person who drives a large vehicle for extended miles to transport a large number of goods. Unlike conveyance drivers, who often have predetermined neighbourhood routes, OTR drivers can move items throughout the area, state, or even nation.

In contrast to many vocations, turning into a truck driver does not require a four-year degree. You do not have to bother with three years of involvement as a truck driver to turn into one. However, there are a few prerequisites and steps before you can begin your new life as an OTR truck driver. Therefore, this article will look into becoming a truck driver. If you are ready to find out, read on!

What is OTR Transportation?

OTR transportation (also known as long stretch shipping) is a type of driving that entails using massive semi-truck vehicles to drive freight across extended distances (including considerable heaps of products, equipment, or other gear). Routes frequently transcend state boundaries and may include portions of the United States and Canada—basically anywhere accessible by major roads and interstates.

This is not your general day at the office. These drivers work on flexible plans and may be away from home for extended periods. Their schedules may necessitate driving on evenings, weekends, or special events to meet stringent time limitations. It may also be a unique job, with drivers frequently traveling alone on lengthy journeys.  

Requirements to Become an OTR Truck Driver

Minimum Age

Assuming you want to be an OTR truck driver, there are several requirements that you must meet. To begin with, the base age is 21. There's no avoiding that; it's the base age limit given over by the Department of Transportation.

Driving Record

In addition, your driving record should be sensibly spotless. Your state may allow you to complete an online defensive driving course to get rid of points. While a speeding ticket received at a young age is acceptable, accumulating a large number of points on your driver's license might be detrimental.

Your state might permit you to take an internet-based guarded driving course to eliminate accrued points. Therefore, if you wish to work as a truck driver, you need to complete that N.Y. (New York) Defensive Driving course to lower your points.


To become an OTR truck driver, no advanced education, like a college degree, is required. A secondary school certificate is not needed for some trucking companies, yet it is still most certainly a preference. Trucking companies require substantial CDL (Commercial Drivers License) training and a permit to offer you a truck driving job. You will initially have to acquire your CDL (business driver's permit) license if you are a student.

You can do this through a composed test at a nearby DPS (Department of Public Safety). You would need to read and grasp the material first, then, at that point, take the permit test, which you must pass. From that point forward, there are several choices open to potential drivers. You should start by picking a certified, respectable truck-driving school. Most truck driving schools offer adaptable timetables and can be finished in about fourteen days if you are hard-working.

School of Choice

Your school of choice will take you through the process of getting the CDL as it is their duty. Then again, many truck driving schools provide tuition reimbursement options up to a specific sum. Generally, you would pay this amount at a rate of approximately $100-200 every month until your tuition is completely paid off.

If you do not have money set aside for training, you can undergo a paid internship with a trucking company of your choice. Many trucking companies offer these programs and can recruit you even if you are an entry-level driver without the needed experience. Food and lodging are typically covered too. You will, in turn, learn all you need to know in order to become a good driver during the paid training. Moreover, once you are done with your training, you are guaranteed an OTR truck driver position with the company.

However, there is one downside. Since the repayment money is deducted from your paychecks during your first years as the company’s driver, you will wind up paying considerably more than if you had paid out of your pocket.

How Much Do OTR Truck Drivers Earn?

In accordance with the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual salary for a conveyance driver is around $41,430, or $19.87 per hour. This might vary widely depending on various factors such as the driver's level of expertise, the type of goods being delivered, and the distance. Some drivers are paid a flat charge for the trip's duration, while others are paid by the mile.

What's the Outlook for OTR Drivers?

This is an exceptionally consistent field and will keep on being so. The U.S. Authority of Labor Statistics expects that the OTR driving field will develop by around 5% by 2024.

Difference Between Long and Short-Haul Truck Drivers?

As a short-haul trucker, you will typically go up to around 150 miles from your starting point and make a few deliveries per day. Also, as a short-haul truck driver, you will frequently return home at the end of a day, but you will also spend more time on smaller streets and in regions with complex loading docks.

As a long-haul driver, on the other hand, you will spend most of your time on roads, hauling goods or cargo along the route. Long-distance travel frequently requires overnight stays and transit of hundreds to thousands of miles. You may regularly spend days, weeks, or months away from home.

Long Haul Driver Salary

Long-haul trucking has several advantages, including a high wage. The average pay in the trucking sector is around $53,000 on a national level. As an experienced driver, you will have a lot more options in several industries and firms. Long-haul truckers also have a high level of job security.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the trucking sector and spending will expand by around 5% by 2028. This is because long-haul truckers make up a significant portion of the transportation industry. Truckers transport about 71 percent of all freight in the United States and are essential to any supply chain. Furthermore, there is an ever-growing demand for more truck drivers.

Difficulties Faced by OTR Truck Drivers

Some problems accompany the benefits of OTR trucking. Here are a few of them:

Shipments May Be Turned Down

Rejected shipments are standard among OTR truck drivers. Clients can refuse your shipments for various reasons, ranging from inadequately loaded or damaged items to late delivery. Shipments can be worth upwards of thousands of dollars, and the owner-operators who must bear those expenses might be devastated.

Different loading concerns apply to different types of rigs and shipments. Because flatbed cargo is exposed to the elements, you must adequately secure it. If the cargo is vulnerable to rain and wind, you may need to cover them with tarps.

Hours of Service (HOS) Compliance

Hours of Service (HOS) standards and guidelines are in place to assist OTR truck drivers in managing their hours to avoid exhaustion and accidents. HOS regulations govern how many hours truckers can drive at a time and how long they must rest between trips.

OTR drivers, on average, should take at least 34 hours off after 70 hours on the road. Typically, the 70 hours are spread out across eight days. Electronic logging devices, or ELDs, are needed on trucks to measure vehicle activities such as engine performance. This ensures that drivers adhere to HOS requirements and take breaks when necessary.

High Costs of Fuel

Tractor-trailers may use up to around 20,000 gallons of diesel each year; thus, the expense is substantial. Fuel costs might potentially approach around $50,000 per year. Trucking firms often provide specific credit cards for their drivers to use when purchasing gasoline, but fuel is one of the most expensive expenses if you are an owner-operator. Driving more efficiently is a simple method to save money on gas. You can save money on gas and reduce your carbon footprint by optimizing route plans and eliminating idling time.

What Abilities Must an OTR Driver Have?

For safe driving and the safety of yourself and others, truck driving abilities are vital. Truck driving skills are learned on the job and via training. The more experience and skill you have behind the wheel, the more equipped you will be for a truck driving job. Below is a list of essential skills to possess as a truck driver, how to develop them, and which ones to share during the recruiting process.


As a truck driver, you must be able to focus for long periods of time. Driving at night, as much as during rush hour during the day, requires a high level of concentration. Consider developing effective tactics to maintain your focus, such as removing distractions and organizing your journey ahead of time.

Organizational Abilities

Organizational abilities are crucial because of the paperwork you must fill out as a truck driver. Logging in for work and submitting the necessary travel information on time are just two instances. Truck drivers are constantly required to keep extensive records by their employers to guarantee that they are driving safely and correctly. In addition, these records enable them to stay accountable.

Mindful Driving

Truck drivers and the companies in which they work typically ensure a high focus on safe driving. It's fundamental to keep everyone on the road safe, primarily while you are operating such a massive truck. The right strategies for maneuvering the vehicle are learned through a lot of practice.

Mechanical Expertise

Most likely, you're on your own on the road. In the event of a breakdown or truck-related issue, possessing mechanical expertise allows you to solve such difficulties without the need for outside support. This prevents your delivery from being delayed and your journey time from being extended.


Cleanliness in your line of work demonstrates that you are a responsible driver and a courteous employee. Especially when you spend a bunch of time in the vehicle as a truck driver, maintaining its cleanliness and keeping it orderly is critical by eliminating garbage and emptying personal belongings regularly. Keep a broom on hand to brush away any dirt accumulated over time.

Effective Communication

It's critical to maintain effective communication with your co-workers and the firm you work for. Communication enables you to raise questions and have a direct line of communication with your boss.

In some scenarios, you might need to call for assistance or explain specific details to another employee in a way that they can grasp. Everyone is kept informed and involved via effective and clear communication.


Driving takes a great deal of patience, especially when you're on the road for an extended period. As a truck driver, you may face several traffic changes throughout your trip. Forbearance allows you to stay focused on the task at hand while also allowing you to wait when required.

Benefits of Being a Professional OTR Truck Driver

You might be hesitant to become a professional truck driver as a new student before enrolling in a truck driving school. However, you will be immediately intrigued once you learn about all of the many rewards involved with truck driving. Here are a few of the advantages:

Offers Rewarding Insurance Packages

Unfortunately, many job offers do not give rewarding insurance packages to entry-level employees. You may be confident that as a new professional truck driver, you will have access to an insurance package inclusive of a medical, dental, and vision cover right away.

Has Many Travel Opportunities

Any long-haul driver will tell you that driving a truck is the best way to explore and experience new places around the country. Long-haul trucking isn't for everyone; carrying large amounts of material might take weeks. However, doing so requires you to go around the country, seeing and experiencing everything as you go. Many drivers use their leisure time to go to different locations and enjoy the sights. So, if you enjoy working and traveling simultaneously, being an OTR truck driver may be the profession for you.

You Enjoy Job Security

Many people are constantly afraid of losing their jobs in today's severely unpredictable economy. On the other hand, Truck drivers will have a very steady sense of job security. Truck drivers are required in almost every business.

Want to Be an OTR Truck Driver?

If you have never been a truck driver or haven't had the opportunity to speak with one, it might be pretty difficult to figure out whether or not you would love the life of constantly being on the road. Find a training school that appeals to your needs and apply immediately if you think OTR trucking is appropriate for you.

It may take a while before you're permitted to get started; however, once you get behind the wheel, you'll find yourself part of a passionate trucker community. As an OTR driver, you'll travel across the continent, carrying crucial commodities and enabling product supply networks. It's fulfilling employment that you can turn into a long-term career.

As an OTR trucker, you will learn and grow whether you are an owner-operator or part of a bigger fleet. Moreover, should you be worried about how you will receive your mail, you can always enlist the services of a professional mail forwarding company. These specialists will get you your mail no matter where you are on the road.

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