How to Choose the Right Truck Driving Job Type for You?

Trucking is not as simple as getting into a truck and start driving. That is the final step.

Before you even think about getting behind the wheel, you must decide which truck driving job type is right for you.

This is quite difficult – even for seasoned drivers looking for a change of pace in their careers. However, there are many possibilities to choose from when it comes to trucking jobs, and here are most of them. A new driver can even predetermine their career path by choosing which CDL endorsements to take when passing the CDL exam.

Truck Driving Job Type by Freight Type

Now, there are multiple different divisions of trucking jobs by type. Freight type is just one of them. In this division, you can drive the following:

  • Bulk cargo
  • Dry Van
  • Flatbed
  • Hauler
  • Intermodal
  • Overdimensional
  • Reefer
  • Tanker

Bulk Cargo

A tanker truck on the road.

Bulk cargo jobs include transporting goods that are loosely packaged or unpackaged. Oil, coal, grain, sand, and natural gas are just a few examples of bulk cargo. 

This job is excellent for those who don’t want to load and unload separate crates, as the jobs are either drop & hook or bulk load/unload.

Dry Van

A dry van truck on an open highway.

Dry vans are the most common trucking job type out there. It is also the usual starting job for new drivers. The position includes transporting non-perishable goods, usually long distances. Since it involves transporting goods from one end of the country to another, the cargo is generally transported in 53-foot trailers.

Dry van jobs usually do not require uploading, but this is not the rule, as some carriers will have you unload this 53-foot trailer by yourself. Still, most companies pay a fixed amount for each load/unload you do, so if you have the physical strength and endurance, this might be the right job for you.

Tanker Driver

Bulk cargo truck on the road

Tankers are a sub-division of bulk cargo, more specifically, liquid bulk cargo. As the name suggests, tankers transport cargo in a tanker truck or a tractor with a tanker trailer. 

Now, there is a specific CDL endorsement called the (H) Hazardous Materials Endorsement (HAZMAT), which allows the holder to transport hazardous materials. Operating a hazmat truck is considered one of the most dangerous trucking jobs, so it requires a particularly skilled driver. Transporting hazardous materials is strictly regulated, so you need to have the certification and additional training depending on the cargo.

Refrigerated, or Reefer Driver

Refrigerated tractor-trailer on the road.

Reefer driving includes transporting perishable cargo in a refrigerated trailer. Such cargo includes meat, food, vegetables, fruit, as well as medicine. Driving a reefer requires additional training to know how to regulate the temperature of the trailer and how to store the cargo so it can be transported safely to its final destination.

Flatbed Driver

A flatbed truck on a loading dock.

Flatbeds transfer huge loads that can’t fit in standard box trucks and often transport oversized cargo. Such cargo can range from anything between electric poles to industrial machinery like bulldozers. The trailer of the flatbed is usually made with a lower profile, enabling the truck to pass underneath bridges and wires.

A flatbed driver must know how to secure the load and know what they are transporting and the logistics of transporting such goods, especially when it comes to oversized cargo. 

Intermodal Freight Driver

Intermodal cargo transported by a train

This type of driver transports intermodal containers. The process usually includes loading the container at a dock or railway station and then transporting it to its destination. This type of trucking is very sought after because it means guaranteed drop and hook cargo in most cases.

Truck Driving Job Type by Route Type

Each truck driving job has its route. Depending on the distance necessary to travel and the frequency of the route (whether it is a one-time haul, or repeatable), you can drive the following types:

Local Truck Driving

Local trucking gives the very sought-after opportunity to be home every day. The routes are usually around a 200-mile radius from the starting point, and the work includes driving up to 10 hours per day. Local driving requires perhaps the best truck drivers for the job, because it involves maneuvering the vehicle into urban environments, as well as backing into multiple loading docks daily. 

Regional Truck Driving

Regional trucking usually includes a region of the U.S. where the driver operates physically within a 1,000-mile radius from the starting point. Since the destination is five times further than with local trucking, the driver usually is on the road for most of the week and has a day or two off for the weekly reset when they can go home.

OTR Truck Driving

OTR, or over-the-road trucking, is perhaps the most challenging trucking type. At least for more family-oriented truckers. OTR means being away from home for weeks or even a month at a time. Truck drivers hauling OTR can drive all across the U.S. and Canada. 

There is no specific OTR freight type-it can range from transporting electronics to transporting industrial equipment. 

Dedicated Route Truck Driving

A route that is frequently repeated, like a company servicing a client regularly with cargo, is a dedicated route. It can be a local dedicated, regional dedicated, or OTR dedicated route. It includes picking load at a designated location and then delivering the cargo to the respected customer frequently.

Truck Driving Job Type by Number of Drivers

This division is whether the driver is driving solo, or a team of drivers is operating the truck.

Team Truck Driving

Trucker team driving means two drivers operate the vehicle and are on routes together. This is an excellent way to work in trucking, especially on regional and OTR routes. The vehicle has less downtime (when one truck driver takes their mandatory HOS breaks, the other operates the vehicle). 

Since the truck runs more miles because of lower downtime, team drivers are usually making more money than solo drivers.

Solo Truck Driving

Solo truck driving, as the name suggests, includes only one operator of the vehicle. Driving solo is more restricted, as the driver is required to stop regularly to be in line with HOS regulations. These regulations dictate that the driver can work for only a certain amount of hours before taking a mandatory rest. 

Solo driving still has its perks, as the solo driver plans their schedule (including home times), as compared to compromising with the partner in team driving.

Truck Driving Job Type by Delivery Option

There are two delivery options for each trucking job – drop and hook and live load/unload.

Live Load/Unload

Delivering live load/unload means that the driver load and/or unload the trailer. This delivery method is very stressful for the trucker, as it requires enormous physical strain to meet deadlines after long inactive hours, which can lead to serious health problems. All truck drivers are impacted by the long hours behind the wheel, but without proper exercise, live loading and unloading can bring about a severe injury.

Drop and Hook

When delivering drop and hook, the driver delivers a full container at a warehouse and often hauls back to the starting point with an empty container. 

Drop and hook is the go-to delivery option for truck drivers, as the downtimes are almost non-existent, and there is no need for physical strain from loading and unloading cargo.

Truck Driving Job Type by Employment Type

There are two different employment types a trucker can have: company driver and owner-operator.

Company Truck Driver

Company truck drivers are employed by a large carrier that has its fleet. The trucker is given one of the fleet trucks to operate. Company jobs often pay per mile driven, sign up bonuses, clean record bonuses, and load/stop pay.

Owner-Operator Truck Driver

Owner-operators are all drivers who own their truck or fleet. They can decide whether to lease on to a bigger carrier or to operate under their terms. 

Generally, being an owner-operator is considered to be better. However, owner-operators have all expenses that are usually covered by the carrier for the company driver to take care of on their own.

Looking for a Career in Trucking or Want a New Job?

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