Am I Crazy To Quit $58k Per Year Job To Become A Trucker?

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Solo's Comment
member avatar

I quit a 90k/yr job to become an OTR driver.

I'm on track to make just shy of that my first year.

So would I quit a 58k/yr job to do what I'm doing? Without hesitation.


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.

Chuck S.'s Comment
member avatar

no you are not crazy you will go through a huge adjustment with regards to income... so if that's an issue you need to come to terms with it before you quit. You have the potential of earning that and more if you are willing to work for it. Good luck

I’m 51 and have a decent 5 day work week making $26 per hour. It’s mostly a desk job with some on the floor supervising. I’m getting fed up with the stress and politics. If this company went out of business I don’t think I could easily get the same job for the same pay. I am seriously considering getting into the trucking industry. I’m single and my kid is grown, nothing to tie me down. I’m ok with not being home most of the time. I feel like trucking would give me better job security and the flexibility to move anywhere in the country. Hopefully I could also make a lot more money eventually. How much of a pay cut would I be taking at first? Could I eventually earn $80k or more per year?

Truckin Along With Kearse's Comment
member avatar

Hi Ricky....

One thing aboyt the pay is that if you give up your current living arrangements and basically live on the truck, you have a tremendous amount of cash flow. Even if you make.less. If you own a home, you can hire an agency to rent it out and handle all repairs and such.

I wrote an article you should read. It gives some insight into the lifestyle.

The Culture Shock of Trucking

I am a team trainer and every student i ha e had says "This is so.much harder than I thought" during their first week. By the end of training, they say "Wow, dispatch never bothers you. You make it all look easy".

My last student has been solo a month. He just told me yesterday, "I hated my job of 10 years, and I was afraid to leave. With your advice, my transition to solo was easy. I can actually sleep nights now. Before I was stressed in that other job and couldnt sleep."

This is my annual pay as a new driver. I continued the thread into my second year. Others chimed in with agreement of what they made. I run reefer which pays slightly more for inconveniences over dry van.

My Prime First Year Pay Totals

This is Big Scott's pay in dry van

Big Scott Pay ay CFI

Dry Van:

A trailer or truck that that requires no special attention, such as refrigeration, that hauls regular palletted, boxed, or floor-loaded freight. The most common type of trailer in trucking.


A refrigerated trailer.

Bobcat_Bob's Comment
member avatar

So you can either make money with LTL or have adventure with OTR? You're clearly implying you won't make good money with OTR when we have tons of OTR drivers here making exactly what you're making.

I know you realize that, but you have to be careful how you word things. I think it would have been better to say, "Do you want a very boring and predictable job, or do you want a dynamic environment and an adventure?" The pay will be very close with both options

I didn't mean to imply one can not make money with being OTR, as seen here it is certainly possible. honestly "making money" is all relative I drove a limo before getting my CDL my gross income was about 55k but after lease payments, fuel and tolls my net was like 20k all while working 12+ hour days. So even the worst paying OTR job was better than that.

My bid run that starts at the end of the month will be worth 94k a year just in mileage when adding in the extras it will be a 100k plus year run. You will be hard pressed to find a 2nd year OTR driver making 100k or more. Sure they do exist but are rare.


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.


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


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.

Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar
To give you an idea of the pay cut I would take, I hope to make as much money in my rookie year as the taxes I paid last year

Well you can easily make about $45,000 your first year in trucking, so last year your salary must have been in the $200,000 range if you paid $45k in taxes.

G-Town's Comment
member avatar

New Rob wrote:

The difference between my current job and trucking involves the percentage that you can reach the goal.

How do you know that?

You’re not even in school yet, so I’m trying to understand how you are able to compare your current job to one you have yet to experience even at a basic level...

Trucking is incredibly competitive. Burn that into your cerebral firmware. I am expected to perform at 100% on-time delivery, 100% safe in order to achieve the top bonus numbers available. Fact. I’m a perennial Platinum Performer, doesn’t get any better for a Dedicated Driver on the WM Account.

Chief Brody's Comment
member avatar


I don't know that I can accomplish 100% on time performance. I won't know until I try.

My point was that it is possible to accomplish 100% on time performance, because some on here have done it. You have done it.

Trucking is incredibly competitive. Burn that into your cerebral firmware.

I have taken this to heart very much. And this is probably one of the things that gives me concern: will I be able to perform at the level you and the others have achieved?

The reason why I compared my current job to baseball, is because my current job involves a competition where there is only one winner. And when there is a only one winner, that means there is also a loser. And just like with baseball, while its theoretically possible to win every game, no team has ever done it.

Again, I am not trying to diminish how difficult it is to achieve 100% on time performance. I only hope that I have what it takes to do it.

Well you can easily make about $45,000 your first year in trucking, so last year your salary must have been in the $200,000 range if you paid $45k in taxes.

Brett: I really hesitated to make that statement, because I'm sure that people will truly think I'm crazy if they did the math. But in the interest of fully disclosure, my hope would be to make $60,000 my first year. Redo the math, and I'm sure this will be Exhibit A for my mental commitment.

G-Town's Comment
member avatar

Rob I appreciate your response and now understand where you were coming from. The simple answer is “yes you can”.

It’s a process to get there; starts with school and training. You must get that 100% right before worrying about performance. There unfortunately is no shortcut.

You clearly have a good head on your shoulders with a high degree of common sense. That coupled with a desire to achieve, dedication to excellence, laser focus, dogged determination, communication skills and a positive attitude combined...will enable your success.

Once you commit...don’t look back or second guess your decision.

Hope that helps... also suggest hitting the blog section (upper left corner of the page in the menu bar).

Good luck.

Jeremy's Comment
member avatar

Depending on your location there are alot of regional otr jobs to most of which get you home every or every other weekend it is all ive done and ive done very well doing so i made 75k my first year and 85k my second year in shape to make 90+ this yr there are options out there but ill say i agree with what the pros here say 1 yr otr will provide you the knowledge and tools required to be succesful in trucking i know people that work local gigs get way less sleep than i do due to 12-14 hr days then the drive to and from and dinner and distractions my drive in to work is 2 steps and a pretrip


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.


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.

Ricky C.'s Comment
member avatar

Thank you everyone for the replies and advice. I’m seeing first year pay ranging from $45k up to $90k. I still want to be a trucker even if I end up being on the low end of the range at first. For now I will be studying for the learners permit and reading all the good stuff on this site. When I get ready to pick a company/school I will check back in for more advice.

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