With so many CDL driving jobs to choose from, which one is right for me?

Imagine yourself earning a living as a commercial trucker

One of the biggest benefits of earning a Commercial Drivers License (commonly referred to as a CDL) is that it can open the door to a wide range of paying CDL driving jobs. In the trucking industry alone, you could pursue any one of these jobs that require CDL licenses:

Dry Van

  • Typically a 53-foot trailer of non-perishables
  • Pulling a dry van is how many new truckers get their start, at a starting wage

Auto/Car Hauler

  • Extremely valuable cargo
  • With greater cargo responsibility often comes greater pay and benefits 

Bull Hauler

  • Cargo consists of live animals, primarily cattle
  • Special rules require special training

Container Hauler

  • Transporting large, pre-loaded metal containers originating on ships or train cars

Dedicated Driver

  • These jobs vary, but usually result in a more predictable schedule
  • Typically means a consistent route or a consistent customer

Freight Hauler

  • Shippers and brokers often use this catch-all term to describe any commercial trucker
  • Specialty truckers often use it as a generic term for hauling freight that doesn’t fit into a specialty category like auto hauler or refrigerated hauler

Refrigerated Freight/Reefer

  • Freight (like seafood or perishable goods) that is usually time sensitive and must be kept at a specific temperature
  • Higher level of responsibility can typically command higher wages

Flat-Bed Loads

  • Oversized loads (e.g. steel beams, excavation equipment, etc.) that won’t fit into a standard trailer
  • Extra responsibility for securing cargo could mean extra pay

Hazardous Materials Drivers

  • Typical loads include fuel, chemicals, compressed gas, etc. Special training and certifications/permits may be required
  • Drivers must be knowledgeable about the contents of their cargo, how to handle it safely and what to do in emergency situations

Household Movers/Van Lines

  • Loading, unloading and driving means vigorous work and potentially, excellent pay

Local Trucking Jobs/Pick-Up & Delivery (P&D)

  • Home every night
  • Typically long days that pay by the hour
  • Light, medium and heavy trucks
  • Jobs like these with more customer contact sometimes require sales skills as well as driving skills

Low Boy Hauler/Heavy Equipment Hauler

  • Low-to-the-street, flatbed trailers hauling oversized cargo
  • Often requires an escort vehicle

LTL Freight

  • LTL refers to “less than truckload” which may involve several customers and multiple stops
  • Driver typically loads and unloads the cargo

Oilfield Trucking

  • Includes hauling oil, water, sand, and oilfield equipment
  • Usually done by companies specializing in oilfield work

OTR Trucking

  • OTR referes to “Over The Road” driving, or long haul trucking
  • Interstate (between states) or intrastate (within one state)
  • Cross-country trips can last 2-5 weeks
  • Expect to average 500 miles per day, 100,000+ miles per year
  • Usually pays by the mile
  • Some drivers work in teams, such as husband/wife teams

Owner-Operator/Independent

  • An owner-operator owns his or her equipment and hauls on a contract basis
  • Highly competitive 
  • Overhead includes equipment purchases, fuel, maintenance, insurance and more
  • Husband-and-wife teams are common
  • Most owner-operators gain experience driving for a large company (OTR, flatbed, etc) before starting their own business.

Hoppers/Hauling Grain

  • Hopper trailers allow for easy loading and dumping of grain
  • Often requires extra training

Regional Jobs

  • Usually limited to a 2- or 3-state radius 
  • Could offer time at home between runs

Tankers

  • Cargo includes liquids as well as gases 
  • Extra training required to manage liquid’s shifting center of gravity 
  • Some chemicals could be explosive and therefore classified as hazardous materials

Team Driving Jobs

  • One team member drives while the other sleeps or rests.
  • Driving double shifts earns more money faster
  • Husband-and-wife teams are common

Class B Drivers

  • Can be lower paying jobs (hourly rates), but these jobs are sometimes easier to find
  • No Class A license required

CDL driving jobs are more than a job, they’re a lifestyle that offers camaraderie and the chance at a high demand career. Men and women of all ages, races and educational levels enjoy careers as professional truck drivers. 

Best of all, whether you’re interested in long haul trucking or local trucking jobs, CDL driving jobs offer you the flexibility to pick and choose your level of commitment. In other words, a career as a commercial trucker gives you the freedom to adapt your career to suit the different stages of your life.