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Everything to Know About Being an OTR Truck Driver

The idea of starting a new career can be both exciting and scary. But if you love the thought of life on the open road, with a secure salary that includes great benefits, you may be perfect for truck driving jobs—specifically as an over-the-road truck driver.

You probably see large trucks daily on your regular commute—the trucking industry has always been essential, and that’s never been more obvious than over the past year. Truck driver jobs can be both challenging and rewarding. Even if you don’t have any experience, you can be driving in about a month!

The best part? New drivers can start with an average salary of $62,764* annually depending on the truck carrier they work for and the type of freight they haul.

What Is an Over the Road Truck Driver?

An over-the-road truck driver secures freight, so it stays put throughout the drive and waits until it is completely unloaded upon arrival at the destination. It’s a job that requires you to drive long distances for hours at a time.

There are several rules in place that protect you and give you plenty of time to rest and recover between trips. For example, after you’ve driven a maximum of 11 hours continuously, you can relax in the truck’s berth. This area is often equipped with a bed and where you can add appliances like a small fridge and microwave—it’s basically your on-the-go apartment. Kick your feet up to rest for at least seven hours before you have to head back out on the open road.

After eight hours of driving, you can take a 30-minute break—often, this will be at truck stops at the side of major highways, where you can grab some food, freshen up, and refuel the truck. These truck stops are also great for when you’re ready to rest and when you need to take a hot shower. They have everything you need and are always conveniently located so you don’t detour off your path.

What You Do as an OTR Truck Driver

You have several responsibilities besides driving when you’re an OTR truck driver. The first and most important responsibility you have is to obtain your commercial driver’s license (Class A CDL), which is what you need to operate a truck. Once the initial CDL training, for which you can get financing, is complete, you can work with a recruiter to find a trucking company that best suits your needs. You can then get started on your new job.

You need to follow road maps and adhere to instructions to make sure you’re protecting the cargo and always arriving on time. Before you load up, you need to inspect the truck. You must also verify that what’s being loaded is exactly what needs to be transported. Finally, you can head off toward delivery.

The two main responsibilities are delivering each load safely and on time. When you’re on a trip with long miles, your pay increases; this is because many drivers are paid through a pay-per-mile system. You’re also responsible for logging all relevant information, including how many hours and miles you travel, where you stop for your resting periods, and any paperwork related to the pick-up and delivery of cargo.

Do You Qualify to Become an OTR Truck Driver?

This well-paying job requires only a month of preparation, during which you train for your Class A CDL. You may even be eligible for tuition reimbursement from trucking carriers who hire you as soon as you graduate! During the training time, you’ll learn the driving skills required and the laws you need to understand how to drive a truck according to your state’s regulations. If you drove a truck in the military, you may be able to waive some portions of the final test.

You should also have a high school diploma along with your CDL license and be at least 21 years old. Your driving record should be clean, which means no DUI or DWI convictions in the last seven years. This also means you should be able to pass random drug tests throughout your period of employment.

It’s important to know that there are some medical restrictions that may disqualify you from becoming a CDL truck driver. For example, if you have high blood pressure, you may not be able to take on the job. You are required to pass a physical every two years, which means both your physical health and your vision need to be up to par.

So long as you meet the requirements above and you’re willing to invest four weeks to get your CDL license, you can work in a secure career in no time, earning an average salary of $50k the first year for new company drivers! Experienced drivers see their salary increase over the years.

What Are the Benefits of Over the Road Truck Driving?

Aside from a great salary that offers financial security for you and your family, you can also expect to get medical, dental, and life insurance from most truck carriers. Enjoy the benefits of saving money for retirement as well, through a 401 (k) Retirement Savings Plan—all while you handle long-haul trucking with scenic views across the nation.

If you can’t imagine leaving your best four-legged friend behind, this next part may surprise you: some truck carriers let you bring your pet along with you, so you don’t have to leave them behind!

You’ll have some long days with plenty of time to rest up and recover, and you can enjoy plenty of perks and rewards that create balance and make it worthwhile. Roadmaster has trained students for over 30 years with over 100,000 graduates who are now enjoying the fruits of their career choice.

Are you ready to prepare for the kind of career that keeps you busy, financially secure, and rewards you along the way? Apply now at Roadmaster’s driving school to learn if you qualify to get started!