OTR Trucking - What Is It & Requirements

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Have you ever dreamed of a career on the road that offers plenty of benefits? Ever wanted to visit America’s cities or see the nation's deserts, oceans, mountains, plains, and everything in between? Over-the-Road (OTR) truck drivers enjoy the freedom and adventure of life on the open road, take in the sights, and earn excellent pay while doing so.

What does OTR Mean?

OTR stands for over the road trucking, also known as long-haul trucking. These are the folks who run coast to coast and most have visited all 48 of the contiguous states. OTR drivers differ from their regional and local counterparts in several key areas which we will go into more depth about later. Meanwhile, OTR drivers are essentially a special class of truck drivers that remains on the road for weeks and sometimes months at a time. 

Many types of freight including fresh vegetables and cargo arriving at our nation’s ports from overseas must be transported from either the west coast or east coast long distances across the country, sometimes more than 3,000 miles, and the average distance for a typical OTR load is around 1,200 - 1,400 miles. These are the primary loads OTR drivers transport. 

OTR drivers operate in two main ways, as either solo drivers or a team of two drivers. While they drive the same distances, solo drivers typically take six to seven days to move a shipment from one coast to the other, while OTR teams are able to move a shipment from coast to coast in roughly three and a half days. 

Driver Perspective

“Learn all you can. Talk to other drivers. And protect your driving record at all times.”

Michael Kasanda, 3 years of experience

Difference between OTR, Regional, and Local

OTR Regional Local
OTR drivers spend several weeks to several months at a time on the road. Regional drivers are usually on the road for 1 - 2 weeks at a time. Most of the time, local drivers return to their homes daily.
Travel to virtually every state and into Mexico and Canada. Typically operate as solo drivers. Usually operate as solo drivers.
Operate as either solo or team drivers. Often transport a specific type of cargo within a region such as the Northeast, Southeast, Southwest, or Midwest, etc. May run dedicated routes of the same cargo to the same locations day after day.
Transport fewer loads over greater distances. Transport a higher number of loads over shorter distances than OTR drivers. Many LTL (less than truckload) shipments are transported by local drivers.

OTR Trucker Salary Ranges

How do OTR driver salaries compare to their regional and local counterparts? Well, it depends on a number of factors. Because of the longer distances and more time on the road, OTR drivers generally make more than their counterparts and are paid either by the mile or a percentage of the line haul revenue for a load, or a percentage of the total revenue for the load. 

Regional drivers, with their shorter distances, and weekly or bi-weekly hometime, usually earn less than OTR drivers.

Local drivers are usually paid by the hour and depending on the company this may lead to dramatically lower pay than OTR and regional drivers. On the other hand, drivers transporting specialized cargo such as hazardous materials like gasoline may earn more than OTR and regional drivers. 

Driver Perspective

“I think if you have a family, you really need to make them aware of how long you are out and always speak in the worst-case scenario.”

Mitchell McHugh, 21 years of experience

Here’s the numbers:

  • OTR driver median salary is $62,000 or more.
  • Regional salary typically falls between $40,000 -$60,000.
  • Local drivers can expect to bring home $35,000 - $45,000 (specialized cargo drivers may earn even more).
graphic showing the median, regional, and local otr salaries

OTR Trucker Jobs

OTR trucker jobs are in constantly high demand, more so than regional and local jobs, so if you’re concerned about job security or finding a trucking job with no experience, OTR may be the right fit for you. OTR also has a slightly different work-life balance as a trucker compared to locals, another factor to consider before becoming an OTR driver. To further sweeten the prospects of becoming an OTR driver, once you’ve acquired 2.5 years of CDL experience, have a clean driving record, no accidents, and are at least 25 years old, you’re eligible to drive for CloudTrucks. 

CloudTrucks has left the outdated methods the trucking industry has stubbornly clung to over the decades and has moved into the future, establishing itself as a next-generation trucking company. We are a virtual carrier which means you have the full support of our backend office without the forced dispatch. Owner-operators who wishes to maintain their own MC Authorities can partner with CloudTrucks using our Flex program. Get paid in minutes instead of months with our CT Cash card.

All you have to do is sign up, download our app, choose the loads you want and maximize your revenue with our cutting-edge Schedule Optimizer technology. To learn more, visit our Getting Started page. 

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