Long Haul vs. Short Haul Trucking. Which is Right for You?

long haul truck drivingWhen you pursue a career in trucking, one of the first decisions you'll have to make is whether you want to work in long haul or short haul trucking. Take a look at the pros and cons of both types of trucking jobs, and decide which is right for you.

Truck Types

One of the biggest differences between short haul and long haul truckers is the type of rig they drive. Short haul truckers operate smaller vehicles that are easier to operate on city roads, while long haul truckers drive tractor-trailers that carry big loads and have cabs with plenty of room to stretch out.

Time on the Road

If you have a family, a house, or other commitments in your hometown, you need to anticipate what your schedule will look like as a trucker. Most short haul truckers essentially work local trucking jobs. That means they put in a full day trucking in their area, and then they head home for the night.

Long haul truckers find that their trucking jobs occupy much more time on the road, and they may drive with a partner. Many keep regular weekly or monthly schedules, and they might return home over the weekend or every couple of weeks. During the week, they can look forward to getting some rest in their cabs.

Job Duties

As a long haul trucker, you spend most of your time covering long distances in a specific region or cross-country. You'll only make deliveries every few days, after driving hundreds or thousands of miles. When you arrive at your destination, you'll coordinate unloading with the customer and complete paperwork to document your delivery or pickup.

As a short haul driver, you'll make multiple pickups and deliveries each day. While you'll spend some time on the road, a big chunk of your day will include loading, unloading, and coordinating tasks with customers.

Average Pay

One of the reasons many drivers opt for long haul trucking is that it tends to pay more. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), short haul drivers earn an average of $38,640 per year.

Instead of a standard hourly rate, long haul truckers earn a per-mile rate, along with bonuses. The BLS estimates that heavy tractor-trailer drivers earn an average of $43,680 per year, and those at the top end of the spectrum earn over $62,000 per year.

Typical Expenses

For short haul drivers, on-the-job expenses tend to be minimal. You might spend a few dollars on a cup of coffee or a bite to eat once in awhile, but you can keep those costs very low if you're on a budget.

In contrast, long haul drivers' expenses tend to be much higher. Since you're spending days or weeks at a time away from home, you can expect to spend money on meals, snacks, showers, and even a comfortable bed once in awhile. If you're committed to long haul trucking and don't need to maintain a home, you might be able to cut costs by not having a home base.

Quality of Life

Quality of life varies between short haul and long haul trucking jobs. If you want a job that requires physical activity, a standard daily schedule, and the ability to clock out and go home at the end of the day, short haul trucking is probably the right choice for you.

If you're looking for freedom on the open road, the ability to see the country, and long stretches away from home, long haul trucking is a great option. Since the job is what you make of it, you can achieve great quality of life on either career path.

Now that you know the pros and cons of short haul and long haul trucking, your next question is probably, "Where can I find trucking jobs near me?" Start doing some research on trucking companies hiring drivers and find a position that works for your lifestyle needs.

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