Working as a long distance truck driver keeps you out of the office and puts you out into the world. You have a sense of freedom that’s hard to find with other jobs. You can visit new places, make new friends, and make your own schedule within the constraints of your delivery deadlines. Below are some of the pros and cons of being an over-the-road (OTR) driver.
Whether you work for a company or own your own rig, you’ll generally make more money if you take longer trips. This can mean that you’re away from home for two weeks, then home for three days before you hit the road again. For some people, this kind of constant action is what drives them to keep going. They are self-motivated and feed on momentum. For others, the challenges that come from being away from their families can hinder their success in this type of career.
OTR truckers may be on the road for hours on end. With nothing but a windshield and the open road in front of you, you may feel completely free. Unless you’re stopping at a scheduled destination to load or unload, you can go where you choose and stop where you want (within time and mileage constraints).
If you enjoy long stretches of time with nothing but your thoughts, OTR trucking can be a very meditative career. You don’t have a boss looking over your shoulder all day, and you can be alone with your thoughts. For some, that is a lonely proposition. But if you need constant social interaction in your job, you may get bored with this lifestyle easily.
As with any job, there are advantages and disadvantages to the way in which the pay scale is set up. Employees who are paid by the hour may get overtime pay for working more than usual. On the other hand, salaried employees don’t have to worry about a shrinking paycheck on days when they had to duck out for a doctor’s appointment.
OTR truckers are paid based on the distances they travel. Mileage is one thing, but the time spent accruing that mileage is another. There are many factors beyond a trucker’s control; traffic, delays loading and unloading, and weather are just a few. This means that drivers are not necessarily paid for all the time they actually spend on the road. But it tends to even out in most cases and can be quite profitable if you’re organized and have an upbeat personality.
People who lack a formal education often struggle to find a career that allows them to earn a decent living or support a family. OTR drivers can do both they just have to weigh the benefits and disadvantages of this type of job.
Trucking is much like any desk job; you don’t have much time to be on your feet and move your body. No matter what kind of career you’re in, however, you need to make time for exercise. It doesn’t come easy for everyone, no matter what their daily routine looks like. You can work in quick walks, jogs or even push ups at truck stops and play sports at home on your days off. Driving a truck doesn’t have to mean sitting in the cab with a burger and fries. You can still make healthy choices that lead an active lifestyle.
Navigating an 18-wheeler along a crowded highway may sound intimidating, but with the great training available and most of all on-the-job experience, you can become a very successful OTR driver.
Author Travis Stevenson is a retired OTR driver, and is now a content contributor for freighting companies. If you’re looking to own your own rig and create an independent business, a good way to begin is with truck deals from actual big rig drivers.