Reply To: Start OTR or Stay Local?

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This is just my opinion and Red may disagree. These days it is possible to go from CDL school to local work driving a daycab. In the past it was almost impossible to get a local job unless you had 1 or more years of OTR experience. I would say it depends on what your goals are in trucking. If you want a job that pays your bills and gets you home nightly you can probably find one. Food Service delivery to restaurants and grocers, trash hauling, soft drink or beer delivery seem to be chronically short-handed. They are also hard work moving freight from the truck to the store on a hand truck. The hours can be very early or very late. 1 year of OTR cannot hurt your career if you drive safe and your family is supportive. Many times it will pay better to be OTR than home every night. In my case it was about $1-1.5k per month more as OTR. However I notice some of the “Mega companies” pay less or don’t have the miles so it might not be a pay cut to stay local.

I’ve been local/regional Dedicated for the last 18 years. I’m am sometimes so frustrated I am considering going back OTR. It is mighty monotonous covering the same route day after day. If that route has you in city traffic it can be plenty frustrating. Car drivers are determined to die in front of a truck, DETERMINED. Nobody who has ridden in a big truck around cars doesn’t come away shocked how stupid and dangerous car drivers drive, trying to wedge in front of a truck because they stayed in the left lane until the last quarter-inch before their right turn. But, have no fear. The car driver was able to update his Facebook and send pictures of his cat to Twitter all while trying to end your career. Nothing is worse on your CDL than being involved in a rear-end accident except failing/refusing a drug test. There are strategies for handling those situations. You can avoid stupid driver tricks for years or decades, you have to pay attention all the time and stay off the phone.

There are tons of OTR positions available at all times. You should take the Personality Test linked at this web site to see if you can do well being alone so much, which is one of the issues with OTR. Just comparing the 2 different job and the ease of getting into them, it’s much easier to get a local job with 1 year OTR than get a local job without OTR. I’ve seen very few OTR jobs that require any local work. There are “driver leasing services’ or “driver temp services” that hire on short-term basis, like daily or weekly. Those services often have the full range of driving jobs available. If you aren’t sure it can be a a way to try out a different jobs while working for one employer. It doesn’t look good to work for ABC for 3 weeks or 3 months and then EFG for 6 months and then off to HIJK for a few months. But if a Driver Temp Service supplies drivers to ABC, EFG, and HIJK you can try them and not look like a Job Hopper. You might not know if OTR is doable for YOU until you do it. If you do it, no matter what, get 1 year of experience. Some places will accept only 6 months OTR experience, but those companies are fewer than the once that want 1 year or more. Local is not necessarily easier work than OTR. OTR is easy between the big cities on the interstate highways.

If you decide on OTR your first company trainer is the best teacher you will have. The CDL school is about getting the license, your first trainer is about learning ONE WAY to do the job. That’s where you will pick up 90% of what you need to know. Don’t be afraid to ask for another trainer if your personality clashes or he/she isn’t teaching. Your job is to be safe and demonstrate to your trainer you can do the job. His way is probably best unless it’s unsafe. You can do things a different way in your own truck, but it’s not an equal partnership where you and he both get a vote.