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What It’s Like to Be an Over-The-Road CDL Truck Driver: A Comprehensive Guide

Posted on July 19, 2023
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The trucking industry plays a vital role in our everyday lives, ensuring that goods are delivered from coast to coast efficiently and on time. Over-the-road CDL truck drivers are the unsung heroes behind this massive operation, dedicating their lives to keeping the country moving. If you’re considering a career as a CDL truck driver, it’s important to understand the pros and cons of this profession. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve into the various aspects of being a CDL truck driver, providing valuable insights to help you make an informed decision.

The Pros of Being a CDL Truck Driver

1. Independence and Flexibility
One of the major advantages of being a CDL truck driver is the level of independence and flexibility it offers. Unlike traditional office jobs, truck driving allows you to be your own boss to a certain extent. While you still have to report to dispatch and adhere to load assignments, there is less micromanagement and constant supervision. You have the freedom to plan your own routes, decide when to start and stop your workday, and manage your time on the road efficiently.

2. Exploring the Country
For those with a sense of adventure, truck driving provides a unique opportunity to see the country while getting paid. As a CDL truck driver, you’ll have the chance to travel to various cities, towns, and scenic locations across the nation. You’ll witness breathtaking landscapes, experience different cultures, and create lasting memories on the open road. This aspect of the job appeals to individuals who have a passion for travel and want to explore new places.

3. Competitive Pay and Job Security
CDL truck drivers enjoy competitive pay, especially considering the lower education requirements for entry into the profession. As a company driver, you can earn more than $40,000 a year, and if you choose to lease or own your truck, your income potential can exceed $100,000 annually. Additionally, the trucking industry has a high demand for qualified drivers, ensuring job security and a steady stream of employment opportunities.

4. Supportive Company Culture
Trucking companies like CloudTrucks recognize the importance of supporting their drivers. They provide assistance with load scheduling, freight fees, and DOT authority, ensuring that you’re not alone on the road. With a 24/7 support network, you can rely on your company to help you navigate any challenges you may encounter. This support system creates a sense of camaraderie and fosters a positive work environment.

5. Regulated Driving Hours
CDL truck drivers operate within driving limits set by regulatory authorities. They typically work up to 70 hours within an eight-day period, with mandatory rest periods to ensure their safety. After reaching the maximum hours, drivers must take a mandatory 34-hour break. These regulations promote driver well-being and prevent fatigue-related accidents, making the profession safer for everyone on the road.

The Cons of Being a CDL Truck Driver

1. Time Away from Home and Family
One of the biggest challenges faced by CDL truck drivers is the extended periods of time spent away from home and family. Over-the-road (OTR) drivers may be on the road for three weeks or more before returning home. Limited hometime, usually ranging from two to four days, can strain personal relationships and make it difficult to maintain a work-life balance. This aspect of the job requires careful consideration, especially if you have commitments that require your presence at home.
Pros to the Cons: Though some CDL Class A require long-haul driving there are many local companies, such as HoodDead River Company, and Oakhurst, where you can work in the state of Maine, and be home everynight. Consider if Over-The-Road or local driving is best fit for you.

2. Cost of CDL Training
Obtaining a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) is a prerequisite for starting a career as a CDL truck driver. However, CDL training programs come at a cost. While some companies offer free CDL training in exchange for extended contracts at reduced pay, it’s essential to evaluate the financial implications of obtaining a CDL.
Pros to the Cons: At NTI, we offer Merit-Based, and Private Scholarships to help you get on the road without the financial strains. 

3. Loneliness on the Road

Truck drivers primarily work solo, spending long hours on the road with minimal social interaction. This isolation can lead to feelings of loneliness and homesickness. It’s crucial to have effective coping mechanisms to combat these emotions and maintain mental well-being. Staying in touch with loved ones through regular phone calls, video chats, and making an effort to connect with other drivers during rest stops can help alleviate the sense of isolation.
Pros to the Cons: Dogs! Many truck drivers hit the road to adventure with their furry friends, as we know they can be some of the BEST company. Many drivers travel with their significant others when able to tackle the county together.

A Day in the Life of a CDL Truck Driver

To get a better understanding of what it’s like to be a CDL truck driver, let’s take a closer look at a typical day in the life of a driver. Meet Jenny, a fictional CDL truck driver, as we follow her journey through a day on the road.
Jenny’s day starts early as her alarm clock wakes her up at 6:00 AM. She begins her day by freshening up at a truck stop and grabbing a cup of coffee. After a quick breakfast, Jenny checks her phone for any dispatch updates and performs a pre-trip inspection of her truck and trailer to ensure everything is in proper working order. Once she’s satisfied with the inspection, it’s time to hit the road.
Jenny reaches her destination in New Jersey, where she’s delivering a load of frozen pizzas. After checking in with the guard at the distribution center, she drops off her loaded trailer and picks up an empty one for her next assignment. Jenny receives a message from dispatch with the details of her next load, which involves picking up a shipment of fresh produce from a port terminal. She heads across town to the terminal, checks in at her appointment time, and waits for the lumpers to load her trailer.
While her truck is being loaded, Jenny takes the opportunity to plan her trip to the refrigerated warehouse in Indiana, where she’ll deliver the fresh produce. She calculates the remaining drive time and decides on a suitable stopping point for the night. Once her truck is loaded, Jenny sets off for the truck stop, where she finds a spot to park for the night. After completing her post-trip inspection, she enjoys a birthday dinner at the truck stop’s restaurant, returns to her truck, and settles in for the night.

The Truck Driver Lifestyle
Living the truck driver lifestyle comes with its own set of unique experiences and challenges. While it offers freedom and the opportunity to explore new places, it also requires adaptability and resourcefulness. Let’s take a closer look at some aspects of the truck driver lifestyle.

Independence and Freedom
The truck driver lifestyle offers a sense of independence and freedom that is not commonly found in traditional jobs. As a truck driver, you have control over your schedule, route planning, and daily routines. This level of autonomy allows you to tailor your work experience to fit your preferences and personal needs.
Job Security and Demand
The trucking industry is a constant in the economy, ensuring a high level of job security for CDL truck drivers. The demand for qualified drivers remains strong, offering a stable career path with numerous opportunities for growth and advancement. As long as goods need to be transported across the country, there will be a need for CDL truck drivers.
Stress Management
Truck driving, like any profession, comes with its share of stressors. Dealing with traffic, meeting delivery deadlines, and managing paperwork can be overwhelming at times. Effective stress management techniques, such as engaging in hobbies, staying physically active, and practicing mindfulness, can help alleviate stress and promote overall well-being.

The Importance of CDL Training

Obtaining a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) is a crucial step toward starting a successful career as a CDL truck driver. CDL training programs provide the necessary knowledge and skills to operate commercial vehicles safely and efficiently. While the cost of CDL training may be a consideration, there are various options available to help aspiring truck drivers finance their education.

Is CDL Truck Driving the Right Career for You?

Now that you’ve explored the pros and cons of being a CDL truck driver and gained insight into the truck driver lifestyle, it’s time to make an informed decision. Consider your personal preferences, lifestyle goals, and willingness to adapt to the demands of the profession. Speaking with experienced truck drivers can provide valuable perspectives and help you determine if CDL truck driving is the right career path for you. If you are considering taking he next step, contact the Admissions department at Northeast Technical Institute, to help answer any questions you may have.


Being a CDL truck driver offers a unique combination of independence, adventure, and job security. It’s a career that requires dedication, adaptability, and a passion for the open road. While there are challenges to overcome, the rewards of a fulfilling career in the trucking industry are abundant. If you’re ready to embark on a journey that offers freedom, competitive pay, and the opportunity to explore the country, becoming a CDL truck driver may be the perfect choice for you. Take the time to evaluate your options, research reputable trucking companies, and start your journey towards a rewarding and fulfilling career on the open road.
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