How Hard Is It To Find Local Truck Driving Jobs Vs Long Haul?

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James M.'s Comment
member avatar

Noob question, but how hard is it to find local truck driving jobs? I'm thinking getting my CDL but the lifestyle of an OTR driver living on the road doesn't really appeal to me. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated, thanks!

CDL:

Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.

OTR:

Over The Road

OTR driving normally means you'll be hauling freight to various customers throughout your company's hauling region. It often entails being gone from home for two to three weeks at a time.

Old School's Comment
member avatar
Best Answer!
Noob question, but how hard is it to find local truck driving jobs? I'm thinking getting my CDL but the lifestyle of an OTR driver living on the road doesn't really appeal to me. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated, thanks!

James, it is a good question, that honestly has different answers depending on where you live. Let me just start off by saying that there are some very real reasons why most places require at least one year of over the road experience, and it was touched on a little in some of the responses you already got. Local jobs require a lot of tight maneuvers in a big truck on a regular basis. This is where a new driver can really get themselves in trouble. You know it's not that hard cruising down the highway in a big truck, but when you start having to back that thing in to a tight loading dock off of a busy street with traffic being held up going both ways and anxious people trying to squeeze their way around you to get out of the same parking lot you are trying to get into, then it can get really difficult to do on a regular basis without causing some damage whether it is your fault or not.

I was able to go local straight out of school and now I've got a great job as P&D driver for OD. Does this mean that everyone can? No. But the old adage of needing otr experience before going local is really a crock now.

Heavy C. is a long time contributor here, and highly respected by me, but I think this remark is somewhat irresponsible. He and Six String both live in an area where the demand for local drivers is so intense that I'm not sure they realize how fortunate they are. Now to be fair, they both qualified their responses with an emphasis on location.

James, the problem with going local first lies in the fact that if you do end up having a minor accident it is a lot more likely to end your career than it would had you started off with an over the road company who is probably going to be a little more lenient on your first one or maybe even two accidents. They will be more likely to put you on some form of a probationary time period, give you some more training, and let you prove yourself. Heavy C. had an accident at the beginning of his career while backing into a building - fortunately for him it was his employer's building and the damage was minimal. But I can guarantee you it caused him some considerable anxiety. We have another member in here who started out locally and has had a really hard time of it - they are still hanging in there, but it has not been easy on them at all.

If you are in an area where there is an intense demand for local drivers then you may be able to pull it off, but it is not without considerable risk involved that could have long reaching effects on your career. Once you have an accident on your record that caused you to get fired, you will find it extremely difficult to land another driving job. It is not impossible, but it does add a new layer of stuff that will hinder your job searching.

My advice for someone in your situation is to go ahead and take the plunge into the world of over the road driving with the understanding that you are just making a one year commitment to it. Trust me, that one year goes by so fast that it will almost seem like a blur - at least that was my experience with it. After that you will be a much more confident driver, who in my opinion will be much more likely to make a successful go at a local driving job. You are going to learn all the skills you will need for that local driving job, but you will be able to learn them at a more relaxed pace. You will still be getting yourself into tight backing situations, but the difference is that it won't be six or seven of them every day, it will be more like one or two per week. So many of the new truck driver's problems happen when he is in reverse, and it surprises most newbies when I tell them that most of the new truck driver accidents happen inside the boundaries of truck stops.

Okay, just to sum this all up, there are some very good reasons why OTR experience is required for so many local driving positions. You don't have to be committed to the lifestyle, but you may ought to consider being committed to at least one year of it just to give yourself the benefit of the training that you will acquire during that time period.

CDL:

Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.

OTR:

Over The Road

OTR driving normally means you'll be hauling freight to various customers throughout your company's hauling region. It often entails being gone from home for two to three weeks at a time.

Over The Road:

Over The Road

OTR driving normally means you'll be hauling freight to various customers throughout your company's hauling region. It often entails being gone from home for two to three weeks at a time.

P&D:

Pickup & Delivery

Local drivers that stay around their area, usually within 100 mile radius of a terminal, picking up and delivering loads.

LTL (Less Than Truckload) carriers for instance will have Linehaul drivers and P&D drivers. The P&D drivers will deliver loads locally from the terminal and pick up loads returning to the terminal. Linehaul drivers will then run truckloads from terminal to terminal.

Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar
Great Answer!
double-quotes-start.png

... the problem with going local first lies in the fact that if you do end up having a minor accident it is a lot more likely to end your career than it would had you started off with an over the road company who is probably going to be a little more lenient on your first one or maybe even two accidents...

double-quotes-end.png

Seems to me that Heavy C and Mountain Girl's experiences clearly disprove that notion. In MG's case, her company continues to work with her... Even after multiple accidents/incidents.

So you feel a case study involving two people in an industry of 3.5 million is all the evidence we need to draw the conclusion that Old School doesn't know what he's talking about then, huh? No, I'm here to tell you that Old School is right. And I agree wholeheartedly with everything he said:

My advice for someone in your situation is to go ahead and take the plunge into the world of over the road driving with the understanding that you are just making a one year commitment to it. Trust me, that one year goes by so fast that it will almost seem like a blur - at least that was my experience with it. After that you will be a much more confident driver, who in my opinion will be much more likely to make a successful go at a local driving job. You are going to learn all the skills you will need for that local driving job, but you will be able to learn them at a more relaxed pace. You will still be getting yourself into tight backing situations, but the difference is that it won't be six or seven of them every day, it will be more like one or two per week. So many of the new truck driver's problems happen when he is in reverse, and it surprises most newbies when I tell them that most of the new truck driver accidents happen inside the boundaries of truck stops.

There's a big difference between seeing the big picture and looking long term versus seeing what you hope to see and thinking about right now. Old School and I think long term. We see the big picture, we know how the industry works, and we try to help people make decisions that give them the best chance at a safe, strong start to their career. And the best chance you'll have is by going OTR your first year. We're not saying that our way is any sort of guarantee nor are we saying there is no other way. What we're giving people is the safest, surest route we know of to establish a great foundation to a new career in trucking. And the safest way to get your career started is OTR.

One very important thing to realize about going local is that you will be working long hours, typically. This means that you might not have much time to do anything but work during the workweek, and recuperate / relax / do chores during your weekends

This is very important point in the grand scheme of things. A lot of people picture getting a local job, doing the 9 to 5 thing, and having plenty of free time for other things. Unfortunately the logbook rules that govern local jobs are the same as OTR - 70 hours on duty every 8 days. That's almost like having two full time jobs. You'll find some local drivers that put in 40 hour weeks, but the overwhelming majority put in closer to 60 when all is said and done.

Now I've never had a family so that would change things, but I've had several local jobs over the years and to me they just weren't worth it. From the time you leave the house until you get home is often 14+ hours. You get home, take a shower, eat, and go to bed because you'll be starting another 14 hour day in a few hours. You do this for 5 or 6 days and you realize you really have no life. You get one day a week to sleep and recover, another day to catch up on chores, and before you know it it's Monday again.

Now if I had a family I would see things differently. Whatever time I could get at home I would take. But James didn't mention having a family in his post. He did mention that the OTR lifestyle doesn't sound appealing. I just wanted to point out that getting a local job often times isn't much of a lifestyle either. You just feel like all you do is work. That's how I felt, anyhow. I'd rather be on the road five days a week and get home on weekends. That way I get to enjoy some of the travelling lifestyle during the week, make about the same as you'd make driving OTR, but still be home on weekends to do the social life thing.

being home daily in the trucking industry requires another form of sacrifice.

Very true.

Logbook:

A written or electronic record of a driver's duty status which must be maintained at all times. The driver records the amount of time spent driving, on-duty not driving, in the sleeper berth, or off duty. The enforcement of the Hours Of Service Rules (HOS) are based upon the entries put in a driver's logbook.

OTR:

Over The Road

OTR driving normally means you'll be hauling freight to various customers throughout your company's hauling region. It often entails being gone from home for two to three weeks at a time.

Over The Road:

Over The Road

OTR driving normally means you'll be hauling freight to various customers throughout your company's hauling region. It often entails being gone from home for two to three weeks at a time.

Heavy C's Comment
member avatar
Great Answer!

Let's just put it simply. You have options. You are not obligated to go one direction or another. You really need to do your own research on the job market in your area. Make phone calls to jobs that look interesting to you. Find out if experience is absolutely required or if they would consider training.

Also the idea that local jobs work you to death can be a little misleading. Generally local jobs involve delivering some sort of product to customers. Well since most customers don't usually open or start doing business until morning time you don't generally start that early. Yes of course there is exceptions to this. For me I start my day between 8 and 9 am and usually I'm home between 6 and 7 pm. Those really aren't crazy hours. Am I very fortunate that I landed this job? Of course I am. I would never admit otherwise. But I didn't fly blindly into this either. I made calls and knew my areas job market before I even got into school.

Are there risks to going local right away, yes as others have pointed out. But there are risks to going OTR too. What if you go into paid training with a company that does not really meet what you're looking for? Do you quit? Well if you do that then you'll owe them a bunch of money. What of you hit something? Being OTR means that by averages you're more likely to hit another car than a stationary object just because of the time normally spent on open highway. Us local guys tend to have to worry more about gates and fences and many other things because we spend our days backing. Plus you've mentioned that going OTR isn't your thing. Do you really want to burn yourself up hating driving truck for a year just so you can go local. More than likely you'll hate your career choice and not do it because you forced yourself into a situation you already knew you weren't going to like.

Look I'm not one to argue with Brett and OS because when they're right they're right. They've been doing this much longer than me. I do feel however like I'm obligated to share my experience with others and encourage other opportunities when the time comes. I wish you the best of luck with making the decision that's right for you

OTR:

Over The Road

OTR driving normally means you'll be hauling freight to various customers throughout your company's hauling region. It often entails being gone from home for two to three weeks at a time.

Dm:

Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Anchorman's Comment
member avatar

Where do you live? That will have some effect on it.

Brian M.'s Comment
member avatar

Your experience will play a role also. A lot LTL companies want you to have OTR , Dedicated, regional etc experience or some kind. Some of at least a year.

Regional:

Regional Route

Usually refers to a driver hauling freight within one particular region of the country. You might be in the "Southeast Regional Division" or "Midwest Regional". Regional route drivers often get home on the weekends which is one of the main appeals for this type of route.

LTL:

Less Than Truckload

Refers to carriers that make a lot of smaller pickups and deliveries for multiple customers as opposed to hauling one big load of freight for one customer. This type of hauling is normally done by companies with terminals scattered throughout the country where freight is sorted before being moved on to its destination.

LTL carriers include:

  • FedEx Freight
  • Con-way
  • YRC Freight
  • UPS
  • Old Dominion
  • Estes
  • Yellow-Roadway
  • ABF Freight
  • R+L Carrier

OTR:

Over The Road

OTR driving normally means you'll be hauling freight to various customers throughout your company's hauling region. It often entails being gone from home for two to three weeks at a time.

Phil C.'s Comment
member avatar

I do construction driving, there are a lot of opportunities for dumptruck, water truck, equipment haul etc. Some are class A some class B. Its a good way to go imho but pays a lot less to start than OTR.

Phil

OTR:

Over The Road

OTR driving normally means you'll be hauling freight to various customers throughout your company's hauling region. It often entails being gone from home for two to three weeks at a time.

Heavy C's Comment
member avatar

There are a few factors that come into play on this. Location as mentioned before. Persistence. And quite honestly luck. I was able to go local straight out of school and now I've got a great job as P&D driver for OD. Does this mean that everyone can? No. But the old adage of needing otr experience before going local is really a crock now. If you live in the northeast going local right away shouldn't be much of an issue.

OTR:

Over The Road

OTR driving normally means you'll be hauling freight to various customers throughout your company's hauling region. It often entails being gone from home for two to three weeks at a time.

P&D:

Pickup & Delivery

Local drivers that stay around their area, usually within 100 mile radius of a terminal, picking up and delivering loads.

LTL (Less Than Truckload) carriers for instance will have Linehaul drivers and P&D drivers. The P&D drivers will deliver loads locally from the terminal and pick up loads returning to the terminal. Linehaul drivers will then run truckloads from terminal to terminal.

6 string rhythm's Comment
member avatar

I'll echo Heavy. Location matters more than experience.

Beth S.'s Comment
member avatar

We live in west Texas, oil-based economy. During the boom, FFE would hire & train people to drive oilfield with no OTR experience. Now, they don't, because oil prices dropped & people are getting laid off...and we're still only at 3-4% unemployment. It's a matter of supply and demand in your area.

OTR:

Over The Road

OTR driving normally means you'll be hauling freight to various customers throughout your company's hauling region. It often entails being gone from home for two to three weeks at a time.

Gladiator 76's Comment
member avatar

I drive out of Portland Oregon. Finding a local job is much easier than keeping it. If you can drive in close quarters and back the truck into tight spaces without wrecking you can keep the job. If you can't you can easily ruin your career. I never tell anyone what to do and local driving options are there, but as Brett has pointed out they are very tough for inexperienced drivers.

Brian M.'s Comment
member avatar

In the Chicagoland area at least area if you want to land a decent Local job you will need experience. Or you'll end up at a company that will work you like a dog and turn around and lay you off at winter time do your research for sure.

Old School's Comment
member avatar
Best Answer!
Noob question, but how hard is it to find local truck driving jobs? I'm thinking getting my CDL but the lifestyle of an OTR driver living on the road doesn't really appeal to me. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated, thanks!

James, it is a good question, that honestly has different answers depending on where you live. Let me just start off by saying that there are some very real reasons why most places require at least one year of over the road experience, and it was touched on a little in some of the responses you already got. Local jobs require a lot of tight maneuvers in a big truck on a regular basis. This is where a new driver can really get themselves in trouble. You know it's not that hard cruising down the highway in a big truck, but when you start having to back that thing in to a tight loading dock off of a busy street with traffic being held up going both ways and anxious people trying to squeeze their way around you to get out of the same parking lot you are trying to get into, then it can get really difficult to do on a regular basis without causing some damage whether it is your fault or not.

I was able to go local straight out of school and now I've got a great job as P&D driver for OD. Does this mean that everyone can? No. But the old adage of needing otr experience before going local is really a crock now.

Heavy C. is a long time contributor here, and highly respected by me, but I think this remark is somewhat irresponsible. He and Six String both live in an area where the demand for local drivers is so intense that I'm not sure they realize how fortunate they are. Now to be fair, they both qualified their responses with an emphasis on location.

James, the problem with going local first lies in the fact that if you do end up having a minor accident it is a lot more likely to end your career than it would had you started off with an over the road company who is probably going to be a little more lenient on your first one or maybe even two accidents. They will be more likely to put you on some form of a probationary time period, give you some more training, and let you prove yourself. Heavy C. had an accident at the beginning of his career while backing into a building - fortunately for him it was his employer's building and the damage was minimal. But I can guarantee you it caused him some considerable anxiety. We have another member in here who started out locally and has had a really hard time of it - they are still hanging in there, but it has not been easy on them at all.

If you are in an area where there is an intense demand for local drivers then you may be able to pull it off, but it is not without considerable risk involved that could have long reaching effects on your career. Once you have an accident on your record that caused you to get fired, you will find it extremely difficult to land another driving job. It is not impossible, but it does add a new layer of stuff that will hinder your job searching.

My advice for someone in your situation is to go ahead and take the plunge into the world of over the road driving with the understanding that you are just making a one year commitment to it. Trust me, that one year goes by so fast that it will almost seem like a blur - at least that was my experience with it. After that you will be a much more confident driver, who in my opinion will be much more likely to make a successful go at a local driving job. You are going to learn all the skills you will need for that local driving job, but you will be able to learn them at a more relaxed pace. You will still be getting yourself into tight backing situations, but the difference is that it won't be six or seven of them every day, it will be more like one or two per week. So many of the new truck driver's problems happen when he is in reverse, and it surprises most newbies when I tell them that most of the new truck driver accidents happen inside the boundaries of truck stops.

Okay, just to sum this all up, there are some very good reasons why OTR experience is required for so many local driving positions. You don't have to be committed to the lifestyle, but you may ought to consider being committed to at least one year of it just to give yourself the benefit of the training that you will acquire during that time period.

CDL:

Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.

OTR:

Over The Road

OTR driving normally means you'll be hauling freight to various customers throughout your company's hauling region. It often entails being gone from home for two to three weeks at a time.

Over The Road:

Over The Road

OTR driving normally means you'll be hauling freight to various customers throughout your company's hauling region. It often entails being gone from home for two to three weeks at a time.

P&D:

Pickup & Delivery

Local drivers that stay around their area, usually within 100 mile radius of a terminal, picking up and delivering loads.

LTL (Less Than Truckload) carriers for instance will have Linehaul drivers and P&D drivers. The P&D drivers will deliver loads locally from the terminal and pick up loads returning to the terminal. Linehaul drivers will then run truckloads from terminal to terminal.

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