Commercial drivers keep America’s economy moving, literally. If you’re considering earning your commercial driver’s license (CDL), or have recently completed your training, you may be wondering what type of driving career to pursue. Are you looking to stay close to home or are you willing to travel farther? A CDL can grant you access to an array of opportunities in the industry. Commercial Truck Trader takes a look at nine of the most common types of commercial driving jobs.
1. Local Drivers
Local drivers are typically required to only complete routes within their town or city for eight to 10 hours per day. These localized routes allow most drivers to come home at the end of each day, which is a major benefit. It’s not uncommon to see local haulers driving both delivery trucks and vans.
2. Regional Drivers
Regional drivers operate in a larger geographic area than local drivers and are responsible for a certain part of the country. For example, drivers in the Northeast region can travel between states like Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and more within a designated radius. Regional drivers can log a specific amount of hours each day, then are able to return home for a certain number of days depending on company policy.
3. OTR Drivers
Over-the-road trucking (OTR) is also called long-haul trucking. These drivers travel longer distances, which will often require them to be gone for several weeks at a time. While OTR drivers spend more time away from home, they are able to explore different parts of the country while on the job.
4. Flatbed Drivers
Flatbed trucking, also known as large-load trucking, can be more demanding than other driving jobs. Flatbed drivers typically have specialized training to haul oversized or wide-load cargo on flatbed trailers. This can include construction materials, military vehicles, machinery, and more that can’t be hauled in an enclosed trailer.
5. Tanker Drivers
Tanker truck drivers are a specialized type of trucker. Tanker drivers are responsible for transporting liquids, such as gas, chlorine and other hazardous materials (HazMat), in small or large cylindrical vehicles.
Hauling liquids can require several stops to fill up the tank, so drivers need to not only be patient but skilled enough to travel with a partial load. In addition to a CDL, this type of driving also requires an N endorsement to haul over 1,000 gallons of liquid or an X endorsement for HazMat.
6. Refrigerated Drivers
Another specialized type of driver is a refrigerated driver. They haul refrigerated freight in what’s known as a reefer/refrigerated truck or van. Because these goods must remain at a certain temperature, drivers must be even more aware of the time and distance it takes to safely transport the shipment.
7. Dry Van Drivers
Rectangular trailers, that are hauled by semi-trucks, are often referred to as “dry vans.” Transporting by dry van is one of the most commonly used forms of moving freight in the world. Many commercial drivers begin their careers hauling dry van shipments. These drivers should know how to connect and disconnect the trailer from the cab, along with other regular maintenance and inspection.
8. Freight Drivers
Freight drivers deliver goods that aren’t covered by dry van drivers. Brokers and shippers in the industry often use the term “freight haulers” as a catch-all to describe any commercial driver who doesn’t fit into a specific category. Drivers can expect to transport some liquid, hazardous, or oversized shipments that dry haulers aren’t licensed to carry.
9. Bus Driver
Bus drivers are a standout on this list because, instead of hauling goods, they transport people. Bus drivers can have routes locally to schools and around their city or town, as well as regional and longer distance routes for chartered trips or sightseeing tours. Certain types of buses require additional CDL endorsements. For passenger transport of more than 16 people or for school buses, drivers will need a P and S endorsement, respectfully.
The commercial driving industry offers diverse positions for CDL holders. It’s not uncommon for a driver to pursue multiple roles during their career, gaining invaluable experience and specialized education along the way.