OTR Driving vs. Regional vs. Local Trucking

Trucking Options for Your Driving Career

Once you’ve completed your truck driver training courses and earned your Commercial Driver’s License (CDL), you still need to determine which type of driving position best suits your needs and lifestyle. Your skills are a very marketable commodity now, but it’s important to understand and choose the right type of driving situation. There are three common types of truck driving options: local, regional, and over-the-road (OTR). Each one covers a specific area, and the salaries will vary accordingly.

Local

Local drivers are typically company drivers, which means they work for one specific company. They follow a regular route and stay within 250 miles of their home terminal.

PROS

  • Home Time: Local drivers generally begin work in the morning and return home in the evening. There could be the occasional overnight load. Most drivers are off weekends and holidays.
  • Fewer Hours Behind the Wheel: Local drivers are able to move more frequently and stretch their muscles.
  • Consistent Routes: Routes are generally the same routes for the same companies every day.

CONS

  • Weekly Pay: Local drivers average between $500 and $700 weekly.
  • Loading and Unloading Freight: You may be required to physically load and unload the freight you’re delivering as a local driver.
  • Long Working Hours: Even though you’re home every night, many shifts begin as early as 4:00 a.m., and you may not return home until 6:00 p.m.

Regional

Regional drivers work within one specified area. For instance, Fresno drivers may have a regional route that covers a portion or all of California, Oregon, and Nevada. You may be on the road during the week and home weekends.

PROS

  • Home Time: You will generally live in the same region in which you work so you will be home regularly.
  • Freedom: Regional drivers enjoy the freedom of the open road while still being able to stay somewhat close to home.
  • Salary: An average regional driver’s annual salary is approximately $53,000 according to American Trucking Associations (ATA).
  • No Loading or Unloading Freight: Most regional drivers are not required to handle the freight they carry. The companies that send and receive the cargo typically have the staff to take care of moving the freight on and off the truck.

CONS

  • Quick Turnaround: You may be required to deliver a load and immediately pick up another to return to your home area. That means that you will have longer hours behind the wheel with less time to stretch.
  • Salary: Some or all of your salary may depend on the loads you’re carrying. In order to earn the best salary available in this category, you may need to fit in long runs.

Over-The-Road (OTR)

OTR drivers can cover the lower 48 states; however, the routes and loads you carry depend largely on the company you work for. Some companies may stay within a regional area, such as the western states, or they may require you to travel extensively from coast to coast.

PROS

  • Salary: The average annual salary for an OTR driver based in Fresno, CA, is approximately $59,000 according to Indeed. That does not include bonuses and benefits. Salaries can also reach into the $80,000 range if you work as part of a team.
  • Travel: An OTR driver can enjoy the best of both worlds. You are able to travel and see the country while earning a living.
  • Paid Time Off: Jobs.net states that a driver is required to receive 34 hours off for every 70 hours worked. You are also limited by a maximum of 11 hours of driving per day. So, you may work 14 hours, which includes loading or unloading, so long as your actual drive time does not exceed 11 hours.
  • Freedom: As an OTR driver, you may also choose which time of day you prefer to drive.
  • No Freight Loading or Unloading: The companies that are on your delivery schedule will provide their own dedicated dock workers.

CONS

  • Minimal Family Time: You may average one day home every two to three weeks.
  • Long Hours Behind the Wheel: This can make anyone very tired as well as sore from not being able to be up and moving throughout the day.

Truck drivers with a CDL are currently enjoying a marketplace that offers a great deal of opportunity. Depending on your individual circumstances, you may choose to work as a local driver, cover a larger space on the regional circuit, or span the lower 48 states as an OTR driver. The sky’s the limit.

When you’re ready to get serious about your new career as a truck driver, give Advanced Career Institute a call. We’ll be happy to meet with you to discuss the available options and possibilities.