Local Truck Driving vs. OTR Driving

After you have completed training and passed your CDL tests, you will have a lot of truck driving career opportunities to choose from. Your biggest decision will be deciding to go to work over-the-road (OTR) or for a local company. Both offer specific benefits and setbacks, and it’s important to know the pros and cons before you pick either route.

Local Driving Opportunities

Most local driving positions will be with smaller, local companies. However, some national carriers have shorter regional or local routes available. In local driving positions, you will generally operate within a radius of 250 miles from your home terminal.

The Pros of Local Driving Jobs

  • More Time at Home – Local routes mean no over-the-road time.  You’ll be behind the wheel during a typical 8-or 12- hour shift in addition to performing other duties the position requires. 
  • Set Routine –  Working as a local driver usually means having a set schedule so you’ll be back to your family in the evening. You may drive the same route, work with the same customers, or follow a regular routine each day. 
  • Smaller Company – Many of these local positions are with small, local companies in your community. Of course, there are many benefits of working for a smaller company, such as being part of a tightknit team.

The Cons of Driving Locally

  • Fewer Opportunities – There is a high demand for truck drivers, but finding a local gig is not always as easy – particularly if you are new or have less experience.
  • Lower Earning Potential – Local drivers typically earn less compared to their OTR counterparts and enjoy less financial benefits. However, the additional home-time can be seen as a benefit that OTR drivers don’t get. 
  • Extra Roles – Most of the time, you will also be required to physically load and unload the freight you are delivering.
  • Longer Hours – While you may enjoy the comfort of your bed every night, you may be required to begin shifts as early as 4 am, or work until late in the evenings.

Over the Road Driving Opportunities

Over-the-Road (OTR) driving is an adventurous opportunity that lets you cover the country’s lower 48 states, and in some routes into Canada or Mexico. However, routes vary, and the choice of freight depends on the company you are working with.

The Pros of Going Over-the-Road

  • Higher Pay – Working as an OTR driver is more lucrative, and most employers offer other perks such as sign-on or referral bonuses.  
  • Travel – What makes this an interesting opportunity is that you travel across the country and get paid for it!
  • Paid off-days – Most companies offer their drivers paid days off according to the number of days you have been working.
  • Defined Role – Typically you will not perform extra duties, such as offloading freight. Many carriers offer no-touch freight routes, which means exactly that. You drive the freight, but don’t have to unload it!

The Cons OTR Driving

  • Less Time at Home – It may be lucrative, but you will be home much less than local or regional drivers. Many drivers are gone a few weeks at a time. OTR is a lifestyle for the driver and his/her family!
  • Longer Driving Time – You’ll have to follow the Hours of Service rules, but you’ll spend a lot more time driving as an OTR trucker. One possible benefit? Team driving. Partner up and share the driving time. You’ll average more miles in a day which can equal faster trips – and more money.

So, Which One is Better?

The ‘better’ option depends on you! If you’re looking for more home time, you may find local driving opportunities are a better fit. If you are a new driver looking for a little more adventure – or a little more pay – than OTR routes may be your calling.

All in all, there are pros and cons to any career you choose. Truck driving is no different.  However, there is one advantage no matter which route you take: There are a lot of trucking companies hiring new drivers and loads of career opportunities when you hold a CDL.

No matter if you want to work for a big national carrier, or for a smaller local company, it’s a great time to start training for your CDL at United States Truck Driving School. Our Class A CDL training programs can have you on the road in a new career in just a few weeks.

Get expert guidance on how to jump-start your trucking career in a position that is best for you! Call us today! 303-848-8443