Semi truck on the highway

What You Should Know About OTR Truck Driving

Over-the-road (OTR) truck driving jobs are essential to meeting supply chain demands. The life of an OTR truck driver can be exciting and versatile, but there are some potential drawbacks to consider before entering into this profession. 

Continue reading to learn about the requirements, challenges, and advantages of becoming an OTR truck driver.

OTR Trucking Job Requirements

There are few barriers you have to cross before you can become an over-the-road truck driver. 

To start, you’ll need to be at least 21 years of age if you are crossing state lines. You’ll also need a high school diploma or GED.

Next, you’ll want to earn your commercial driver’s license. According to federal law, a CDL is required to operate extra heavy, large, or hazardous material vehicles like semi-trucks in the United States. There are three classifications of CDLs: Class A, Class B, and Class C.

A Class A CDL is what is required to operate as an OTR truck driver. This type of CDL is mandatory for driving any vehicle that weighs more than 26,001 pounds. Typical examples include flatbed semis, livestock carriers, tractor-trailers, and tankers.

When it comes to earning your CDL, one challenge to overcome is maintaining a clean driving record. You can’t hold a license in more than one state or have any six-point violations. Additionally, it’s important to note that licensing steps vary from state to state. You can view Michigan’s requirements here.

Lastly, you’ll need to earn endorsements for specific types of vehicles or materials that are being transported. For example, you must earn an H endorsement in order to transport hazardous goods.

Salary Ranges for OTR Trucking Jobs

OTR trucking jobs pay well, but there are some considerations that increase salary ranges for some drivers. A driver’s specific salary will vary based on the state he or she lives in and some other case-dependent factors. You can learn more about OTR truck driving salaries and affecting factors in this blog post

Potential Challenges OTR Truckers Face

Truck driving in poor weather conditions

The most common challenges an OTR driver faces include:

  • ELD Mandates
  • Poor Road Conditions
  • Route Delays (“Detention”)
  • Extended Time Away from Family

ELD Mandates

Electronic logging devices (ELDs) were introduced into the trucking industry in 1986 with the purpose of increasing driver accountability and safety. In essence, Hours of Service (HOS) rules mandate that no driver can drive more than 11 consecutive hours without taking at least 10 hours off-duty. Many drivers feel that this rule interferes with their capacity to drive more, and thereby earn more.

Poor Road Conditions

Inclement weather, traffic delays, and a degrading infrastructure regularly affect OTR truck drivers. Besides being potentially dangerous, they detract from a driver’s earning potential as they slow down traffic.


OTR truck drivers have to become accustomed to the nuisance of “detentions,” which are uncontrollable events or complications that delay a driver. These common happenings throw off a driver’s intended driving schedule and can interfere with HOS compliance.

Time Away from Family

An OTR truck driving job is actually a lifestyle. Sometimes, drivers are away from home for weeks on end, driving thousands of miles weekly. This can add challenges to raising children and maintaining a happy marriage.

Despite these challenges, there are still endless advantages to becoming an OTR truck driver. Let’s get into a few of them below. 

Advantages of OTR Truck Driving

Truck driver

There are some attractive benefits linked to OTR trucking jobs, including:

  • Quiet Time: OTR truck drivers enjoy the meditative experience of alone time. Even when not driving the truck, drivers are typically by themselves. While some people would not find this to be beneficial, many others do.
  • Job Security: Over-the-road truck drivers are always in high demand. This leads to more long-term job security for responsible drivers, as well as more employment opportunities.
  • Higher Pay: Long-distance OTR truck drivers spend more time on the roads and generally earn more money than short-route drivers. In fact, OTR drivers are some of the highest paid in the trucking industry.
  • Versatility: OTR truckers enjoy a plethora of natural scenery and national attractions that many others never get to experience. Over-the-road drivers see a lot more than local route truck drivers who see the same sights, deliver the same products, and travel the same roads every day.

Some people can’t imagine the lifestyle of a trucker, but others relish every second of this flexible way of life. For those who are well-suited, OTR truck driving can support a dependable, happy lifestyle with more freedom, money, and contentment than many other professions offer.

Find OTR Truck Driving Jobs at TSI

Family-owned and -operated for more than four decades, TSI is a widely recognized national trucking company offering cross-border and domestic freight services. We offer high-benefit OTR truck driving jobs for experienced Class A drivers, as well as complete instruction, training, and CDL accreditation for new drivers.TSI offers many benefits, including hands-on training, consistent miles, flexible schedules, life insurance, and paid vacation. Please visit our FAQ to learn more about what life is like as a TSI driver. If you’re ready to browse new opportunities or apply for an OTR position, please visit our jobs page.