Choose your best path to career satisfaction
While no two truck driving jobs are exactly alike, generally they can be divided into three main categories: Over-the-road (OTR), regional and local. You may be drawn to at least one of these routes based on earning potential, geographic location, or time spent behind the wheel — but how do you decide which career path to follow?
We’ll break down what to expect from each truck driving option so you can see the differences and select the type of job that works for you.
Common truck driving routes
CDL-A drivers have options for how and where they want to drive. Each route is defined by the amount of driving the job requires. Here are the three general classifications:
Many new truck drivers enter the industry driving OTR, which involves long hauls (250 miles or more) that can span coast to coast for weeks at a time, depending on the job. With this truck driving option, there’s no set schedule — as long as you meet delivery deadlines, you have the freedom and flexibility to manage your time as you see fit. For many, the most significant tradeoff for being out on the road longer and having limited home time is greater earning potential. An OTR driver can cover up to 2,000 miles per week — and up to 4,000 driving as a team hauling expedited freight or driving dedicated routes.
Learn more about team driving and the benefits of driving dedicated routes.
Regional or road drivers
Regional routes blend elements of OTR and local driving. They run through a particular region of the country (Southeast, Northeast, Midwest, etc.) normally within a 1,000-mile radius and sometimes crossing state lines. Less-than-truckload road drivers fit into this category, and dedicated routes sometimes do as well. Schedules and routes for this type of driver are typically more predictable than an OTR driver. Depending on the carrier you drive for and what their network looks like, you may be home nightly or out on the road for a few days and then home. In many cases, this type of driving route brings you home for the weekend.
Learn what to expect as an LTL driver.
Local or city drivers
You’ll find the most consistent schedule with a local route. Local driving jobs involve shorter trips (usually within 100 miles or less of a central location), regular routes, and frequent stops for pickup and delivery, which require lots of customer interaction. Local and city driving jobs are more physical than over-the-road and regional driving options because in many cases it involves loading and unloading freight from the truck, and there are fewer extended stretches sitting behind the wheel. This type of route also includes residential driving, which often requires the skill to maneuver a large truck in smaller spaces. An example of this type of route is an LTL city driver that does local pick up and deliveries, brings the freight back to their local service center and then unloads it and transfers it onto another trailer that will be moved to the next service center by a regional driver.
Identify your preferences and define your goals
One of the great things about being a professional truck driver is that there are multiple roads you can take to thrive in your profession. That’s why it’s so important to consider your priorities. If maximizing income is your primary focus, OTR may be your best bet, especially if you aspire to grow as an owner-operator.
You may want to be home every night (or almost every night). You might also be a people person who loves helping customers and getting to know them in the process. If so, then driving regionally or locally might be a better fit. Whatever you decide, remember that your job satisfaction factors heavily into career success.
Build the career you want with ArcBest®
With multiple truck driving options available, ArcBest offers plenty of opportunities to enjoy a successful and satisfying driving career. Discover all the ways you can drive for ArcBest!