Semi truck on the road

How to Land an Over-the-Road Trucking Job

Over-the-road trucking (OTR) jobs involve transporting time-critical freight over long distances, sometimes for weeks at a time, over multiple state lines. The benefits of OTR jobs include the freedom to hit the open road, work on your terms, and see some of the most visually stunning views in the United States.  

So, how do you land one of these coveted truck driving jobs?

Meet the Essential Qualifications

While some requirements vary from state to state, most adhere to some basic guidelines. Applicants for over-the-road trucking jobs should have a Class A commercial driver’s license (CDL A), be 21 years or older, have a high school diploma or GED, pass the DOT physical exam, which tests vision, hearing, and overall health, and have a clean driving record (no accidents, moving violations, or six-point driving violations). Applicants also cannot have more than one license in one state.

Build a Strong Resume

Even if you have a CDL A license, future employers will want to see you have relevant experience. 

But…how do you get resume-worthy experience when most places don’t hire you if you don’t have experience in the first place?

The good news for first-time drivers is that you can participate in a training program. In these programs, you’ll be paired with an experienced driver who will guide you on the ins and outs of truck driving. The course will also provide insight into how to perform a pre-trip inspection, plan a trip, deal with customers, and use defensive driving tactics, as well as provide best communication practices. Everything covered in your training program should be included in your resume. 

Your resume should be well-written, clear, and concise, summarize your expertise, and provide a complete picture of your education, credentials, work experience, and professionalism.

When you write a cover letter with your resume, clearly explain why you’re applying for the job. This means researching the employer, understanding the markets and types of customers they service, the cargo or loads they transport, how long they’ve been in business, and any of their unique business practices.

This doesn’t mean you must create a new cover letter and resume for every job you apply for. What it does mean is that you customize portions of your resume and letter to address specific criteria the employer is asking for or wants additional information on. Companies will typically list specific attributes or experiences they’re looking for. Identify what these are and use your resume and cover letter to convey how you meet these criteria.

Network & Build a List of References

Networking is an absolute must when looking for over-the-road-trucking jobs. Generate a list of references and contacts as you begin your job search. These can be people you’ve worked with, people and companies you’ve worked for, and even customers you’ve serviced. A good rule of thumb is to categorize each of your contacts in terms of their position, work experience, and relevance to your skills and expertise. 

A strong network is often the best foot in the door for new opportunities, as your connections can contact you when new positions are available within their companies. Your contacts can also serve as valuable references when you apply for jobs—having professional OTR truck drivers vouch for your skills can be one of the best ways to market yourself to new employers. 

Find Over-the-Road Trucking Jobs at TSI

TSI has been a leader in cross-border freight for over 40 years, delivering critical shipments to locations across the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Having a dedicated and highly trained workforce is the reason why we continue to maintain strong relationships with our customers. 

We understand and recognize the value of our employers and go the extra mile to ensure they’re satisfied through hands-on training experience, consistent miles, weekly pay, paid time off, sign-on bonuses, non-force dispatch (drivers get to choose which loads they transport), and exceptional insurance and retirement benefits. 

If you’re an experienced OTR truck driver looking for new opportunities, we’d love for you to join our team at TSI. View our driver opportunities page to learn more about or apply for a position with our company. If you’re a new driver—don’t worry! We also provide a six-week training program. Click here to learn more.