OTR Truck Driving Jobs – What You Should Know BEFORE Signing Up!

Speeding Semi Truck on Highway
  1. Does the road call to you?
  2. Were you born to drive?
  3. Do long stretches of time (many weeks/months) on the road really appeal to you?

Then, maybe OTR truck driving jobs may appeal to you. 

There are many reasons drivers choose over the road trucking jobs as opposed to short-haul trucking.

REd Big Rig and lady truck driver

Truly, it depends on personal likes and dislikes.

However, being a over the road truck driver is not just a job, it’s a lifestyle with both perks and downsides.

Check out both sides of the long haul trucker “coin” to see if an OTR trucking job is right for you.


Here are the top 7 perks of Over the Road truck driving jobs.

1. Independence – Cowboys of the Highway

Probably one of the most common reasons to get into the trucking biz is the appeal of the independence that goes along with the nature of the job – there’s no boss hanging over your shoulder watching your every move.

Over the road truck driving jobs allow greater flexibility for trip planning for the driver. A driver can usually set their own personal schedule and make many of their own scheduling decisions.

Yes, there’s orders from dispatch and yes, there are hours of service rules to follow.

BUT, you still have more flexibility than anyone sitting behind a desk pushing a pencil all day long, too!

One of the biggest attractions about long trips is the appeal of the romance of the open highway, the freedom, ‘cowboys of the highway’ appeal…if you will.

Some drivers just can’t get enough of driving; they simply love to drive a big truck – many shutter at the thoughts of backing into a loading dock several times each week and maneuvering tight spaces with multiple city deliveries all week long – so those local or short haul, has no appeal to them whatsoever.

It’s the nice long highway trips that hold more appeal for some truckers.

Truck Driver Leaning on his Truck

2. The Money

The pay for long trips can be good if you are with a fair company.

However, the consensus nowadays is that OTR truck driving jobs do not compensate the driver fairly for the long hours he is away from home.

Since most truckers are paid on a per mileage rate for long distance driving, the pay can be decent, depending on the type of trucking and the trucking company.

Single drivers will sometimes make their truck their home, and just literally make trips back-to-back, take their off-duty time and resets from their truck at a truck stop.

Related > All I Ever Wanted to Do is Drive

Money stacked up


In the U.S. – An American company driver makes between about $35,000-$40,000/year, and more than that after acquiring a few years experience.*

In Canada – A Canadian company driver can clear about $45,000 after deductions.
Generally speaking, statistics say that long haul pays about 20% more than short haul for company drivers.

For owner-operators driving long haul, the gross/net income has huge variations.

*These figures are approximate… depends on state, personal income tax deductions, the carrier, how much the driver WANTS to work, how much work is actually available.

Related > The Best Trucking Companies to Work For – U.S.

Money stacked up

3. Get Paid to Paid Travel

Long-haul truckers have the privilege of seeing some pretty spectacular scenery on their journeys, that would otherwise cost lots of money on a paid vacation.

Trucking can be an adventure, and a great way to see the country.

Related > 9 of the Highest Paying Trucking Jobs You Should Know About

4. Love of Big Trucks

Some guys get into a trucking career for the sole reason that they love driving and being around the big equipment!

Many find it quite relaxing to drive.

It’s also a known fact that the loud roar of a diesel engine (that raw, unbridled horsepower) is said to raise the ‘testosterone levels in the human body.’

Blue 379 Peterbilt

5. Something Different Each Day

Each day for the long haul trucker is different – the travel, the destinations, the challenges, the schedule – all vary from day-to-day. It certainly keeps life interesting!

“The good part of being a truck driver is the peace-and-quiet. You can set your schedule, meet lots of people and see lots of cool places.”

6. Lots of Trucking Jobs

Even in this stressed economy, there are still lots of long-haul trucking jobs, which isn’t the case with many other professions.

A commercial driver’s license not only gives a driver plenty of job opportunities but there’s some satisfaction knowing that if you don’t like the company or people you’re working for, you can always look for another job.

Chances are, they aren’t the only game in town.

More recently, many truckers seem to prefer short haul trucking jobs, as they don’t require the serious lifestyle changes as running long. Seats are harder for trucking companies to fill for long-haul work.

“Always remember to stand up for your rights and avoid trucking companies that are always looking for drivers. That will tell {you} right away that the company may be having problems {and is } creating high driver turnover.”

7. Flexibility

It doesn’t matter where you live (small town or big city), it’s always possible to get a truck driving job. OTR driving jobs seem to be plentiful.

And, if you’re looking at relocating, there will be a job for you – there’s a lot to be said for this!

You shouldn’t ever be stuck without work, especially if you enjoy long-distance driving.

Woman Truck Driver Getting into Black Big Rig


No job is perfect.

Here are some of the downsides of working at an over the road truck driving job. 

  • Unhealthy Lifestyle 

Due to the nature of living in a truck for extended time periods, eating restaurant food (processed and highly salted), lack of exercise and relaxation time, the lifestyle of an OTR trucker can lead to serious health issues.

Many drivers have had their commercial driver’s license revoked or suspended, due to such problems as diabetes, heart issues, sleep apnea, caused from the unhealthy lifestyle, of living in a truck, day after day, month after month and year after year.

“I will say just being on the road in general; you’re going to see some messed up stuff. If you are the type that doesn’t like new and challenging things on a daily basis, that too could take its toll as well. You are bound to get bored.”

Related > Our Top Trucker Health Tips

Lack of Sleep Means Tired Truck Driver

  • Long Periods Away From Home

Long trips for the trucker can be anywhere from a week up until three weeks, and even longer.

Once the driver is on the road, some companies will keep them out, doing continuous trips. Some drivers don’t get home for months.

This is very difficult for the trucker and his family.

Truckers miss a lot of regular everyday life with their families. It can also mean the end of a relationship, due to the long periods of absences.

Great for singles, not so much for truckers with families.

Related > 7 Tips For Surviving the Relationship Hardships of a Trucking Career

  • Loneliness

If a driver suffers from loneliness, an OTR truck driving job may not be a great choice.

The trucker will spend long periods of time alone. Since the ruling on no handheld devices has been implemented, the driver cannot talk to friends or family when driving.

Some truckers don’t mind the long periods of solitude.

“I would have to say if you have a significant other, leaving them for ‘X’ amount of weeks, will be the hardest thing to deal with. I am not really sure if it gets easier, or you just adapt to it, but it does happen with time.”

Related > What You Need to Know About Depression Among Truck Drivers

depression in truckers what you need to know about the dark side of a truck driving career

  • Costs and Expenses

Meals and personal supplies purchased on the road, can add up quickly and take a big bite out of a driver’s earnings.

The short haul driver can eat many of his meals at home and load up his cooler with food from home, saving the expense of restaurant meals.

Owner operators who are long-haul truckers are really getting hit hard by rapidly rising operating expenses.

The high cost of restaurant food, fuel, repairs and equipment, is making this niche far less appealing than it once was.

  • Some Independence Restrictions

Some truckers have stated that with the introduction of electronic log books, the attraction of the independence factor is waning somewhat.

They feel this system has far too much control over the trucker.

For example, if a truck driver starts out early Monday morning, drives his allowed hours, sleeps and resets.

The DOT hours of service regs says he can drive at 2 am, the company may insist that the driver start their shift at 2 am in order to meet a pick-up or delivery appointment, even though the driver’s body clock says otherwise.


New drivers are often required to run as a team, for OTR work, until they have sufficient experience to run solo.

Most professional drivers DETEST running with a partner, so if you already know you don’t want to drive as a team member, best to be looking at another niche in the industry!

“Listening to the veteran truck drivers is a very important thing. Safety is the biggest factor.”

Related > What You Need To Know About Driving as a Team

Green Truck on Highway


It isn’t impossible to be an OTR driver with good health and happy family life, but it is certainly more of a challenge.

With careful planning and the right trucking company, a career in this niche of the trucking industry, can be satisfying and rewarding and still, an honourable profession.

“I believe there is one simple rule to follow in order to be happy in your truck driving career.

That’s why I chose trucking. I guess you could say I found my ‘happy place’ in my career and my ‘happy place’ within the trucking industry.

Why is trucking my happy place? Because I chose the right niche for me.”


Truck Driver Standing Beside Blue Peterbilt

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