Wide load truck

The exact dimensions of an over-dimensional load vary by state. In a nutshell, over-dimensional is exactly what it sounds like—any high, long, heavy, or wide load truck that is larger than typical dimensions. This usually includes trucks or loads taller than 13’6” (with some regional differences) and wider than 8’6”. Length regulations change by state. Because there are different regulations based on where you’re driving, it’s important to check every state along your route before you start. If you’re considering moving to over-dimensional loads for the next stage of your trucking career, here are some pros and cons to keep in mind. 


1. Pay and Job Security

Let’s start with the big questions. Is there any real pay benefit to hauling more challenging loads? Actually, yes. Wide load truck drivers and other over-dimensional load haulers are pretty well paid for the position. You will be required to carry special permits, but even with that added expense, the finances work out well in your favor for over-dimensional loads. In addition, you won’t be tied to a single piece of equipment. That significantly boosts job security. Being able to haul a variety of loads means you won’t drive with your truck or your pockets empty.

Vic R. Oversized Load Truck Driver

We talked to Vic, a truck driver who has hauled oversized loads for 14 years. 

Vic was previously doing container work but chose to transition to oversized loads for the pay increase. He now makes significantly more money and has variety in his work daily. Vic shared “There’s a lot more money in oversized loads. Every day is an adventure, and it’s never boring.”

Over-dimensional loads require a high level of responsibility and a bigger mental load, but there’s also usually less physical work. That said, don’t look for compensation as a good CPM. This type of run isn’t about the miles—there’s a lot of waiting involved. If you are not a patient driver and willing to wait for parking, room to fuel up, etc., this probably isn’t the job for you. Because miles aren’t the bottom line, typically pay will come as salary, percentage pay, or hourly wages

2. Show Your Skills

Hauling a wide load truck or other types of over-dimensional load is not usually a job for rookie drivers. There is a high level of skill required for this type of position because the cargo is often high value and oversized. Defensive driving is a must. As a result, many drivers have 10+ years of experience in other types of trucking. The vast majority of over-dimensional drivers have at least some flatbed trucking experience. Similarly, drivers with more endorsements are often hired more easily. Even if you don’t need endorsements for a particular load, endorsements have a lot of value. They show that you are able to work a variety of assignments and, importantly, that you are a hard worker who prioritizes their career. 

There are no hard and fast rules about years of experience or endorsements, but in general, more is better in this case. Hauling over-dimensional freight can be a great job for drivers who want to incorporate a lot of the skills and experience they have gained along the way. 

3. Pilot Cars

Pilot cars (also known as escorts) are commercial passenger vehicles that drive alongside an oversized vehicle. They are required to have visible signage on the front and rear of their cars, and you’ve probably seen them on the road before. In tricky situations or routes, they can be a big help.

If you’ve never driven with a pilot car before, you should know that they won’t necessarily join you for the whole trip. They may only accompany you through the most treacherous areas.

Escorts will either drive ahead of you as a scout or they will follow you to help ensure that other vehicles observe proper spacing. There are also specialized escorts called pole cars whose purpose is to check the height of any overhead obstacles to make sure that the truck and its load will be able to pass safely. Most escorts also carry safety equipment in case of a breakdown on the road.


1. Preplanning Is a Must

Preplanning is a standard part of any trucking job. But, many experienced drivers might not need to spend as much time preplanning as they once did. For a wide load truck or other over-dimensional loads, preplanning is not optional. You must know your route well before you set off. Are there any road obstacles to be aware of? When can you fuel? Will parking be readily available when you’re scheduled to stop? 

It’s also a good idea to find out whether your pilot car knows the route well. Some escorts run the same lanes over and other. Others are simply hired and may be driving your route for the first time. There can also be different requirements in different states or regions. Make sure you know the regulations of each place you will travel through.

2. Route Requirements

As an over-dimensional load driver, you will usually have a set route with a specific delivery window. That can be a bit of a challenge, especially in bad weather. In an oversized flatbed, a big storm could have a big impact on your intended delivery time. Unfortunately, responsibility for an on time delivery ultimately falls on the driver. That’s one reason why many oversized loads don’t move during the night

Responsibility for an on time delivery ultimately falls on the driver.

With that being said, there are some loads that can be hauled at night as long as there is proper lighting. Ultimately, that decision depends on the state you are driving in. For most places in the United States, anything under 10’ wide can run at night. On the flip side, superloads (the next size classification up) often haul only at night. Most of these giants require a police escort as well as pilot cars, and they prefer to run when the roads are emptiest.

Getting Started

There is no set way to become a wide load truck driver or to start hauling over-dimensional loads. Typically, employers look for flatbed experience, and drivers need to be comfortable tarping and strapping their load. There are some training programs through companies like ATS and Lonestar, but not all drivers start over-dimensional trucking through a formal program. Multi-axle trailers are one of the best ways to start moving toward the world of over-dimensional loads. 

There really is nothing like hauling over-dimensional loads, so do your research before you get started. It’s not for everyone, but for patient, experienced drivers who want to put their skills to the test, driving a wide load truck or hauling over-dimensional loads is very rewarding.


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How to Know if your Truck Driver Salary is Competitive

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2019 the median Heavy and Tractor-Trailer truck driver salary was $45,260 annually or $21.76 per hour. That said, your truck driver salary will be very different depending on your type of run, haul, and location, among other factors. For bigger companies, you may be able to look up their average salaries. Unfortunately, that’s less likely to be available for smaller companies. But, even without company-specific numbers, you can get a sense of how your salary stacks up. Read on to understand different types of income and whether your salary is competitive.

Consider the Factors

Type of Haul

You can’t compare your salary to the industry average without thinking about the type of haul. Typically, car transport drivers and heavy equipment transporters are some of the highest paid jobs. Hauling highly valuable goods tends to come with an increase in paycheck because these drivers need a high level of performance. On the other hand, straight truck local trucking often brings in one of the lowest salaries in the industry. This recreated chart from Trucker’s Training gives a few examples of salary across CDL A haul types.

Trucker Job

Median Pay

Reported High Income

Ice Road Trucking $40,000 $210,000
Heavy Equipment Transporter $60,000 $150,000
Car Transport Driver $73,000 $120,000
Dry Bulk Grain Hauler $54,000 $120,000
Refrigerator Trailer Drivers $52,000 $80,000
Intermodal Trucker $48,000 $72,000
Flatbed Tractor Trailer Drivers $48,000 $72,000
LTL Line-Haul Trucker $48,000 $72,000
OTR Freight Trucker $48,000 $62,000

Remember, there are plenty of other factors on truck driver salary. So, even within a haul type, there can be a lot of variety in pay.

Type of Run

Whether you’re a “local runs only” driver or an “OTR for life” driver can make a big difference in pay. There will be variation in pay by company and other factors, but in general, OTR drivers have the highest salary potential. According to current Zip Recruiter data, OTR drivers in the United States average $63,888 annually. Regional drivers get the next highest paycheck and earn an average of $60,969. Finally, local drivers in the United States earn an average of $51,355 each year. 

Keep in mind that Type of Run is just one piece of the puzzle. There are some local jobs, such as HazMat Tanker jobs, that will out earn OTR positions. Endorsements, haul type, company size, and more all contribute to earning potential. 

In addition, there’s a lot to consider beyond money. If you’re raising a family or want to have weekends off, Regional or local jobs might be a better fit for you. Type of run is also just one of many factors that will influence truck driver salary. Choose the run type that fits your lifestyle, and then consider how you can meet your salary needs.

Factor in Experience

As with many jobs, seniority matters in many trucking companies. Based on 2020 data from Trucker’s Training, new drivers can expect to earn between 27 and 40 CPM after training. In general, that rate continues to increase with more time on the job. In other words, more experience brings a higher truck driver salary. That financial boost may come as a raise from your current company. Some employers reward drivers for loyalty.

Experienced drivers also are often more competitive for higher paying jobs. Remember, building a strong reputation is part of having more experience. A potential employer may call your current or former boss. Having a good recommendation as a skilled, reliable driver is a huge benefit in a competitive hiring pool.

Small Company vs. Large Company

The size of the company you work can have pros and cons. Pay tends to be a little lower in small companies, but they also offer a more personal environment. On the other hand, larger companies tend to pay more but may have a less family-like company culture. Think of the decision of company size as a sliding scale rather than black and white. You might have to make tradeoffs, but there is also plenty of middle ground.

Look at Income Potential Rather than Salary

The reality of a paycheck is that it adds up differently depending on where you live. $50,000 will feel like more money in Cleveland, OH than in Los Angeles, CA. When you look up the average salary for your type of driving, make sure you include location. You can look up average truck driver salary by state with this list from Seek Capital. Drivers in Los Angeles are likely to earn more annually than a Cleveland driver, but they will also spend more on daily expenses like a mortgage or rent and groceries. 

According to Seek Capital, the top 3 states for truck driver salaries are Nevada, Mississippi, and Kentucky.

Maybe surprisingly, these aren’t the states where truck drivers earn the highest gross salary. Instead, they are the states where truck drivers earn significantly more compared to the average salary from other jobs.

How to Increase Your Salary Potential

If you’re not happy with your current truck driver salary, there are a few ways you can increase your earning potential. Some of these opportunities may be at your current job, and others will take a little time and training. Remember, whenever you change CDL jobs, get as many compensation details as possible from your recruiter before you pursue the position. 

tanker endorsementEndorsements

Earning additional endorsements is a great way to give your long term income potential a boost. Getting more endorsements such as a Tanker, HazMat, Doubles, or Triples will take time and money. Consider this an investment in your future.

Maintaining current endorsements will qualify you for better jobs with higher salaries. Before you choose a program, consider what kind of jobs you want in the future. Then, pick a program that fits your financial needs and career goals. 

Overtime Opportunities

If you are working an hourly job, overtime opportunities can be a good way to increase your salary. This is more frequently an opportunity for local driving positions than other run types. That does mean that you may have less free time on your hands, but overtime opportunities often pay very well. Some companies offer more than their regular rate for overtime hours. As a result, a few extra hours of overtime work might be worth the increased paycheck.


Trucking companies offer bonuses as an incentive for many things. Some are performance, safety, or mileage bonuses that come directly from your work. Others relate to the hiring process — referral bonuses, loyalty incentives, and sign-on bonuses.

Some of these, like a loyalty bonus, are tied primarily to time and aren’t necessarily driven by driver performance. However, others you may be able to increase with a strong professional performance. In addition, keep in mind other quality drivers whenever your company is hiring. A new driver referral bonus can benefit your paycheck and build your reputation by making a good recommendation. 


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Local Truck Driving Jobs

So you’re looking at local truck driving jobs? Great choice. Local trucking is a good fit for many drivers. Remember, as with any job, there are pros and cons to local trucking jobs. Before you make the switch, get to know the benefits and drawbacks of local trucking, and decide whether it’s a good fit for you. 

The Pros 

family life 1. Home Time

Many drivers are drawn to local truck driving jobs because of the home time. It’s for a good reason. Local jobs typically get drivers home every night. If not every night, drivers can expect to be home almost every night. For drivers with a family, that’s hard to beat. 

2. Frequently Off on the Weekends

In addition to being home every night, many local drivers are off on the weekends. This does depend on your company and what you’re hauling, but many local drivers have weekends off.

Weekends off are much more likely in a local position than for OTR drivers.

Attending social gatherings or events on the weekends becomes much more possible with a local truck driving jobs. 

3. Health Benefits

In addition to more home time, local truck drivers pick up some serious health benefits. Local drivers tend to spend less time behind the wheel than regional or OTR drivers. As a result, local drivers are less exposed to the safety risks of being on the road for long periods of time. They are also usually more active. Because local drivers make more stops, there are more opportunities to move around throughout the day. 

4. A Set Routine

If you like to have a fixed schedule, local trucking is for you. Drivers generally have a set hourly schedule that they can count on. That’s great for planning things outside of work. It also gives you a little extra peace of mind to know when you’ll be home and when you need to leave. 

work life balance of Local Truck Driving Jobs5. Excellent Work/Life Balance

Work/life balance is a huge consideration for local drivers. Local truck driving jobs are hard work, but they also help drivers be present for the day to day relationships at home. Local drivers still have to find a balance with their loved ones, but the rewards can be great. If you value being physically present for life’s little moments, local truck driving jobs are for you. 

The Cons

There’s a lot to love about local truck driving jobs. At the end of the day though, they’re just not for everyone. There are a few downsides to consider when you are deciding whether to become a local driver. 

6. Lower Pay

On average, local truck driving jobs pay less than the average OTR position. According to Ziprecruiter, local drivers in the United States earn an average of $51,355. Consider your personal budget and whether the finances work for you in the short and long term. For many drivers, the lower wage is worth the extra work/life balance, but pay is an important consideration.

7. Positions are Competitive

Local truck driving jobs are often extremely competitive. Trucking companies can afford to be choosy because they have a lot of interested candidates.

A good position may require drivers to have some experience first. In addition, there will likely be lots of applicants, so you have to make a strong positive impression when you apply.

If you don’t get offered a position right away, keep getting more experience to help you stand out from other candidates. 

load unload Local Truck Driving Jobs8. Loading and Unloading

Some local truck driving jobs make frequent stops and require physical labor. This depends heavily on your company and type of haul. In some positions, drivers may need to load and/or unload their trucks. Think of it as a built-in weight lifting workout! This might be minor for some drivers, but if you are only interested in no-touch freight, read the job descriptions carefully.

9. Long Hours

The hours you work as a local driver depend heavily on your company. However, for many drivers, days last 10-14 hours. In addition, local drivers may start at any time of the day. For example, it’s not uncommon for a work shift to begin at 4:00 AM. The good news is, many companies offer overtime pay. Longer hours can help bring in a bigger paycheck. With such long days, some drivers find home time a challenge during the week. While local drivers are home every night, there may not be a lot of downtime between shifts. Some drivers feel like they finish work just in time to go home, eat dinner, sleep, and wake up to do it all again. 

Additional Factors

Some parts of local truck driving jobs aren’t exactly pros or cons. It all depends on your preferred work experience. Here are a few additional things to think about.

Are you a People Person?

Some local jobs require more customer interaction than regional or OTR positions. Others don’t ask drivers to interact with customers regularly. Also, local drivers tend to communicate very frequently with their coworkers and dispatchers. This can be a huge plus for some drivers and a downside for others. It’s really about personal preference. Decide for yourself whether you want more interaction with others. Then, seek out jobs that fit your preferences. 

CDL B licenseCity Driving

Like more regular communication, city driving isn’t necessarily a pro or a con. If you don’t mind spending more time in cities and towns, local driving is a good fit. If you strongly prefer to drive on highways as much as possible, consider whether the benefits of local truck driving jobs outweigh the downsides.

Choosing Your Company

You’ve heard it a million timesgood employees don’t leave bad jobs, they leave bad bosses. It’s true for local truck driving jobs too.

For any trucking job you’re considering, read the details carefully. When talking to recruiters, try to get a sense of the company culture.

Each fleet traits drivers differently. Look for a fleet that matches your professional qualifications and your personal lifestyle preferences.

local truck driving job

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Recruiting and hanging onto good truck drivers is a major concern for most trucking companies. The driver shortage is something that’s been talked about for years, and it’s not going away any time soon.

With driver salaries and bonuses continuing to climb, many companies are taking a hard look at what that means for their truck driver recruitment efforts. And what they need to do to attract and retain good drivers.

We asked our Facebook driver network to vote on what’s more important to them when looking for a new truck driving job: a good salary or a large sign-on bonus?

Our results were overwhelmingly in favor of a good salary with 95% of the votes!

Focus on Salary

As it turns out, that’s the direction some hiring managers are now taking. Some companies are moving forward with plans to cease sign-on bonus add-ons in favor of putting together a solid long-term salary package. By not offering sign-on bonuses, they’re seeking to avoid attracting job-hoppers, and keep everything clear and up-front on take-home pay expectations.

They’re planning that in the long-haul it will be good for both the company and the truck drivers if drivers’ checks are predictable and the calculations are clear.

You may have had offers that were a great starting salary, but no bonus. Or an low-to-average starting salary with a 5-figure signing bonus. Or that rare unicorn with a high salary and a great bonus to start. In any case, you need to be certain you understand what you’re agreeing to.

Make sure you read all of the fine print, both with your salary offer and / or your sign-on bonus. The fine print might make all the difference to your paycheck and ultimately your future career with that trucking company.

We know that money isn’t the only deciding factor when selecting your new company.  But when it come to salary vs. sign-on bonus, what do you think? Let us know your opinion on our Facebook Page. Share your story and you could be featured in an upcoming post!


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