OTR Drivers Job: All You Need To Know When Starting a Career

Over the road driver is the is spending most of his time on the road, away from home, covering hundreds of miles every day.

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That’s just one fact that makes this job among the toughest in trucking industry. Other things include irregular eating and sleeping (often in their trucks) and catching up to 11 hours of driving on the road.

However, OTR driver is also the one who gets to see so many parts of the country, enjoys the great entertainment on the truck stops, meets other drivers and many interesting people.

Personally, I think there are lot of prejudice and misconceptions about truckers, and especially OTR truck drivers.

That’s why in this article, I tried to gather all the useful information you will want to know if you’re considering becoming an OTR truck driver.

You will also find daily routine from actual driver, some stuff from trucking companies related to this theme and more.

Hopefully, you’ll have a clearer picture what it means to be OTR truck driver.

Let’s start.

OTR Truck Drivers Routine

As much as unpredictable life on the road is, you will eventually find some sort of daily routine including checking a route for the day, weather conditions and traffic alerts.

Over the time you will probably have your favourite truck stops or some other places that are convenient for you .

Finally, after having your haul completed, you will discover how much time you want to spend at home.

All these things are parts of OTR drivers life, and no matter how much you enjoy the adventure that lies in the fact that every day is different in this job, having a piece of mind is something we all need from time to time.

I found an interesting interview with Jurjen Hettinga who has been a long haul truck driver for 12 years, where he was telling about his typical day. It was something like this:

The day usually starts at a truck stop or some rest area. After inspecting his truck and updating logbook, he is having a quick meal before he hit the road. Daily schedule is three or four deliveries or pick-ups, with driving of 600 miles. Days are 14 hours or longer, and he is usually 2-3 days from home, but there are occasions when that time is 10 days.

If you want to read full story click here.

Live Load vs Drop-and-Hook

One particular thing that can make driver’s life easier or harder, is choosing between Live loads and Drop and Hook. Let’s remind what these two methods are, and what are the differences.

Live load means getting trailer to the place, and then wait for loading or unloading. The process includes free loading time, usually one or two hours. Everything over that is done for a fee, but you could get stuck for hours.

Drop and Hook means delivering trailer to the customer’s facility, and then returning for it, usually after a few days. Drivers prefers this method for a several reasons including:

  • Drop and Hooks are usually significantly faster than Live loads.
  • Drop and Hooks provide you opportunity to get more mileage
  • Drop and Hook is mostly cost twice as much as Live load.

To get some idea about Drop and Hook, I suggest watching some youtube videos like this one:

 

America Need Truck Drivers

The demand for truck drivers, especially OTR drivers, is higher than ever and the curve won’t get down any time soon. Daily deliveries are already suffering and there is reasonable doubt that US economy will be struck by drivers shortage.

OTR Drivers Job1

Businesses in US need their goods to be transported, and majority transport can done only by trucks. Therefore, they are willing to pay up. So, one of the driver shortage consequences are higher salaries for the drivers.

How Much Does Long Distance Truck Drivers Make?

Truckers wages are increasing up to 12% in recent years, which is faster than most of other jobs in US.

Previously mentioned Mr. Hettinga, said he makes around $75,000 a year, and claims that working for the right company can make you 100k a year.

I’ve noticed that potential drivers often want to know how much does a Walmart truck driver make?

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Walmart claim their driver earn averagely $82,000 in a first year, and according to ATA, $73,000 is a truckers median annual wage in a private fleets including Walmart.

If you take a look back just a few year behind, you will notice that in 2012, top 10% of truck drivers have been earning $58,000 per year, and even then it was considered a good pay job.

The rise is obvious and trends are advocating it will continue.

To get exact information about average salaries at your city or state, visit indeed.com and use their Salary Search:

OTR Drivers Job2

I typed OTR Truck Driver in Texas and got this:

OTR Drivers Job3

There is also, National Salary Trend for past couple of years,

OTR Drivers Job4

as well as average salary jobs for related titles:

OTR Drivers Job5

Add to all this the fact that the most of the trucking companies are paying bonuses for long trips and you will come to conclusion that OTR driver is a good pay and much needed job with great perspective.

OTR Drivers Job Description

Over the road truck drivers make inter state deliveries, driving consistent or variety of routes. The distances OTR truck drivers are covering are usually long and often regional routes.

Being a long haul truck driver means planning routes, organizing time and calculating rests. Furthermore, you must be familiar with the laws and rules related to carrying cargo on the routes.

Transporting freight from starting to delivery point, is of course the main responsibility of truck drivers. To stay compliant with federal regulations, OTR truck drivers have to maintain a logbook of the driving activities.

Other responsibilities include inspecting vehicles to ensure safety features, shipping rewiew, securing the loads and more.

Most of the time ORT drivers are on the road. That’s why they have to manage things like high irregular sleep, blood pressure, dieting and stress.

Majority of the risks comes from fatigue, which also generates safety risk due the lack of concentration and blurry vision.

There are also more psychological conditions such as loneliness that can lead to depression.

What do I need to qualify for OTR job?

First of all, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration – FMCSA, truck drivers must obtain a commercial driver’s license to operate vehicles over 26,001 pounds of gross vehicle weight.

Also, if you are look for a job that involves transporting hazardous materials or oversized cargo, you must obtain special endorsements and a (CDL) in your home state, as well as knowledge test and Transportation Security Administration – TSA threat assessment.

Most companies will look for drivers who meet following criteria:

  • A state-issued Class A CDL
  • The appropriate endorsements like HAZMAT, passenger, double-triple,
  • A clean motor vehicle history and a
  • A good driving record
  • Having no problem with being away from home while sitting for long periods of time
  • Good customer service and communication skills for interacting with clients and suppliers
  • Basic-level mechanics knowledge for performing maintenance duties
  • An attention to detail and a commitment to safety

Here is one OTR Truck Driver Resume Sample that I found on Cover Letter and Resume:

OTR TRUCK DRIVER

Benjamin Frank
482 Crystal Way, Denver, CO 801992
(999) 999-9999, frank @ email . com

A physically agile truck driver with five years of experience working “over the road”. Expansive knowledge of the directives provided by the Department of Transportation and local regulations. Track record of working out long routes using GPS and traffic information systems

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SELECTED ACCOMPLISHMENTS

  • Reined in a rollercoaster delivery project that spanned three months – made seven round trips between two states during this time span
  • Trained a group of co-drivers to work long routes as OTR drivers in a minimal allotted time
  • Reached delivery goals constantly for the previous four year and awarded with three awards of excellence
  • Introduced and implemented a program coined “Long Route Safety” which served as road rules for OTR drivers

DRIVING EXPERIENCE

OTR Truck Driver | Schneider, Denver, CO | 06/2013 – Present

  • Drove heavy duty trucks and trailers over long routes
  • Plan long trips in order to mesh in breaks, fuel stops and weather conditions
  • Chart out appropriate route using maps and GPS
  • Assist with loading and unloading goods onto the truck
  • Ensure that all freight paperwork is on order and that goods are secured safely
  • Collect freight charges as instructed on papers
  • Check shipping papers to familiarize self with nature of items and any hazardous materials onboard
  • Ensure timely delivery of goods to the consignee
  • Take signatures of consignee on delivery papers
  • Inspect vehicle to ensure that it is in proper working condition before venturing on a long route
  • Troubleshoot any problems with the vehicle along the way

Loader | Enterprise Freight Forwarders, Denver, CO | 01/2011 – 04/ 2013

  • Loaded and unloaded freight onto trucks
  • Ensured appropriate packaging and seals of outgoing shipment
  • Made sure that all shipping papers are in order
  • Performed manual movement of boxes from storage area to the delivery pallet
  • Drove short haul delivery trucks and forklifts

Training for OTR Job

Although you can get drivers license at 18 years old, only after 21 years old you can drive interstate.

To learn how to operate large commercial trucks, drive on city streets and highways, and finally to take CDL test, you can go through available training programs.

These courses include instructions about the regulations long-haul trucking and behind the wheel training on loaded and unloaded trailers.

Especially useful thing you will get is pairing with experienced drivers as part of completing on the job training,

Conclusion

OTR drivers are having truly exciting life. Still, the truckers lifestyle, or should I say perception of their lifestyle, is the main reason why small number of young people chose this profession.

If you are considering being an OTR truck driver, the best thing would be going on a run with the driver to get the idea of the job. If not, do some research. There are plenty of useful sources on this matter.

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