Do you feel like you were born to drive? If so, there are a variety of careers open to you. From the thrills and spills of drag racing to starting up as a cab driver, a love of vehicles can take you a long way. And, of course, one of the most popular driving jobs out there is the over the road – OTR – or long-haul truck driving.
But let’s be clear – not all long haul jobs are created equal. Some pay exceptionally well, while in others, you will pay less. So, the big question for anyone looking to get into OTR driving is all about making the most of your skills. And in this guide, we’re going to reveal everything you need to know. Let’s get started with the basics of making the most of your long haul driving career.
#1: Your health
First of all, it’s important to understand that OTR driving is not without its problems. And no matter who you end up working for, your health should be your number one priority. You will be spending extended periods living in your truck, and sitting down for hours behind the wheel. And, of course, when it comes to mealtimes you will often end up in roadside restaurants, with the temptation of unhealthy food at every stop. Don’t underestimate the problems this can cause. Diabetes is rife amongst long haul drivers, as their lifestyle is so unhealthy. And if you end up with diabetes, you might have your license revoked, meaning no more work. So, if you want to make the most of your career, focus on your health first.
#2: Your experiences
As a long haul driver, you will see parts of the country that most people will only see when they are paying for a vacation. Our advice? Make the most of it. The USA is packed full of spectacular views and scenery, and plenty of adventure. Try and tie in your work with a little bit of play, and your trucking life will be a lot more complete.
#3: The right company
OK, so now we have been through your health and enjoyment of the job, it’s time to take a closer look at the money making opportunities. Long haul drivers tend to start with a salary of $35-40,000. Your wages should increase over time, of course. But work with the right company, and you can earn a significant amount more than that. Walmart, for example, is known for paying their truck drivers an average salary of more than $70,000. It’s also worth investigating working for a company that recognizes union membership. Any truck driver in a union will earn more than one who is not a member.
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#4: The right specialist
As your career progresses, you can start thinking about specializing in the transport of specific areas. Take Hazmat transportation as the perfect example. Because you will be driving with hazardous materials, you can expect to bring home a bigger pay packet. You will need special training, of course, which can take a while and also be an intense experience. Click here for hazmat practice test examples and a good idea of what to expect. But you don’t have to drive hazardous materials to make more money as an OTR driver. Even driving larger loads can increase your income potential. Again, you will need extra training, but the benefits will pay off, and it’s a great investment.
#5: The right state
While most states will pay similar rates, there are some exceptions. For example, Wyoming and Mississippi both pay well over $60,000 on average. New York follows closely behind, too. If you are struggling to get a pay rise in your current job, it’s worth thinking about making a move. Don’t forget to balance out the cost of living against any move, however. While some states pay significantly more, they are also more expensive to live in. You don’t want to uproot your family if you will end up losing money.
#6: Who earns the most?
If you want to make the most money possible as a long haul driver, you should train up to be an ice road trucker. The work is exciting but arduous and very dangerous. But it pays exceptionally well, and you can earn a good annual salary in a couple of months. It takes nerves of steel – and a lot of skill to become an ice road trucker. You will need to know everything from how to drive on ice through to making complicated repairs if your truck breaks down. Oversized and Hazmat drivers are next in line on the pay scale, due to the increased dangers of driving those vehicles.