After earning a commercial driver’s license (CDL), many drivers start their career with an over-the-road (OTR) job. In the majority of cases, experienced drivers will advise rookies to start out with long-haul trucking. You will also likely see that most entry-level CDL jobs are OTR.
Here are some of the reasons why most new drivers start with an OTR job:
1. Build Experience
OTR job allows you to get exposure to a variety of driving conditions and situations. Since you’ll be driving across the country, you’ll learn how to handle icy roads, mountains, traffic, sudden weather changes, et cetera. Whether you continue to drive OTR or eventually transition into a regional or local job, your first year as a long-haul truck driver gives you the opportunity to start building these skills.
2. Space Out More Difficult Driving Conditions
Local jobs (and, to a certain extent, regional jobs) tend to involve a lot of city driving and backing into loading docks. These are challenging tasks for a new driver. While you get the chance to do both while driving OTR, you won’t spend your entire working day doing them.
This gives you the opportunity to focus on learning new skills without the stress of constantly doing the driving tasks that are most challenging for beginners. It’s also worth noting that staying accident-free your first year is helpful for finding jobs in the future, and this can be more difficult if you are driving in city traffic and backing into tight spots all day.
3. Higher Pay and Tuition Reimbursement
The specific pay scale varies depending on the carrier you choose to work with. However, OTR tends to be the highest-paying option for new CDL holders. This is because of the high demand for long-haul truckers. Many companies also offer tuition reimbursement for new graduates, further increasing the amount you can earn.
The three reasons above illustrate where OTR jobs are often the best starting point for new truckers, but it’s also helpful to understand why there are fewer entry-level regional and local jobs. One of the major reasons for this is insurance.
It costs more to insure new CDL holders compared to those with experience. As this article previously mentioned, local and regional jobs can include challenging conditions on a daily basis, which further increases the risk for insuring new drivers in those positions. As a result, most regional and local routes will require 6 months to a year of previous experience, whereas entry-level OTR positions are more accessible to a student who just graduated CDL school.
Start Your Trucking Career
If you are interested in earning your commercial license, Phoenix Truck Driving School can help. We can get you on the road and earning in as little as four weeks.