Hotshot trucking is a freelance opportunity for individual truckers and owner-operators who own their vehicles to deliver small and top-priority loads in a certain amount of time. Company drivers can also take up hotshot trucking jobs depending on their availability.
Hotshot trucking is done by small trucks or medium-sized flatbed trailers. Most deliveries are done for short distances but some hotshot trucking jobs may require cross-country travel.
Mostly hotshot trucking jobs are posted on load boards or trucking job boards where drivers can register for the specific task.
The main benefit of hotshot trucking is that drivers do not have to wait on standby, they can simply find a suitable task on the load board and deliver the load in their free time. Drivers get a decent salary without spending long hours waiting for the next task.
What Is Hotshot Trucking?
Hotshot trucking is a lucrative business for both owner-operators and individual drivers. Hotshot trucking can also be done as a part-time job. It is a great way to deliver smaller loads in a short time.
This job requires skilled drivers trained to work under pressure and deliver time-sensitive material. Hotshot truckers mostly have critically important goods like lab equipment, agriculture equipment, and heavy machinery.
The trucks required for hotshot trucking are usually referred to as super duty rather than heavy duty. This signifies that they are designed for hauling as well as off-road driving.
Many drivers are attracted to this job because the hotshot trucking salary is quite decent. As of January 2023, on average a hotshot trucker can make up to more than $60,000 annually.
How to Start Hotshot Trucking?
Hotshot trucking is a great way to start if you are planning to join a trucking or driving career. You get the opportunity to spend some time on the road without putting in long hours before committing to a full-time driving job. However, some people also join hotshot trucking as a part-time job.
Whether you decide to become a part-time or full-time hotshot driver there are some requirements you need to meet.
- All truckers must have a class D driver’s license as well as a certificate of CDL exam.
- After that, the drivers are required to get a health card from the department of transportation. The health card will be valid for two years. Drivers can register an appointment with DOT medical examiner to obtain the medical card.
- The next step is to get commercial driver insurance. This insurance can cost more if you are new in the driving business or just gave the CDL exam. The insurance premiums are a lot higher for new drivers than experienced ones. This is probably the biggest expense a driver or a hotshot owner-operator has to pay.
- If you want to drive across the country and be able to go to different states, you need to apply for an MC or motor carrier number. New drivers will be issued a USDOT number.
- Once you have the USDOT number you can also apply for additional operational authority if you want. The operational authority level decides what kind of cargo a driver can deliver. Be aware that additional operational authority requires a separate fee that can vary depending on the level of authority you applied for. Getting a USDOT number can cost up to $300.
- The last and most important step is to find the loads and start delivering. Individual freelance drivers can look up jobs on the load boards. Paid load boards are also available which post more up-to-date trucking jobs.
Additional Steps for New Hotshot Business Owners
If you work for a company then the company will assign you hotshot trucking opportunities depending on your schedule.
However, if you want to start a hotshot trucking business then before finding the loads on load boards, you have to register the business. The state will allot you an EIN or federal tax ID. This ID will let an owner hire employees and open a business bank account.
Another major responsibility of an owner is to invest in quality equipment. You will have to decide the variety of equipment depending on the type of cargo your trucks will be delivering.
When it comes to equipment, a hotshot business requires a small truck or a trailer. You will need to have approximately $10,000 to $25,000 to directly buy a trailer. On the other hand, you can also make a downpayment for super duty trailers or trucks for $5000 to $25,000.
Hotshot Trucking Salary
As mentioned earlier, on average a hotshot driver can make up to $60,000 annually. But the amount of salary hotshot drivers make varies a lot depending on certain factors. The drivers can make as low as $49,000 to as high as $75,000 yearly. Some even make 100,000 a year which is not a common occurrence.
The factors affecting the variation in hotshot trucking salary may include geographical area, driver’s experience, number of working hours, types of delivery loads, hauling quality and type of hauling equipment, fuel, and other costs.
Where to Look for Hotshot Trucking Jobs?
- Look for opportunities on load boards
- Connect with the RSS Feed
- Ask your supervisor if you work for a company
Benefits of Hotshot Trucking
Decent Wage: As a hotshot trucking driver, you do not have to put in hectic hours every week and you still get paid decently. hotshot trucking jobs pay more because of time-sensitive delivery tasks. High wages also depend on how critical the items of delivery are. Hotshot drivers can make more money as compared to a normal trucking job.
Low Maintenance: Hotshot truckers do not have to meet the high maintenance needs of regular hauling jobs. This is because they use their trucks and transport loads with the assistance of utility trailers. The equipment does not require company-mandated services very often. However, if there is a problem with the equipment, hotshot drivers are usually ready to do the necessary repairs on the go. Lower maintenance requirements will allow hotshot drivers to save more money.
Way to Gain Experience: Before committing to a truck driving career, it is better to spend some time as a hotshot trucking driver to gain experience. This is beneficial because as you put more time into hotshot trucking your CDL certificate gets matured.
The extra experience and a less recent CDL will enable you to get commercial insurance easily and at a lower cost. And you will finally get to start a permanent trucking career.
Low Investment Required: On contrary to regular trucking, hotshot trucking requires less investment. You can buy a class 3 truck easily at a less price than a class 8 truck. The insurance will also be relatively cheaper. This is a great benefit for individual or part-time drivers who want to start working as hotshot trucking drivers.
So, Are You Ready To Give It A Go?
Becoming a hotshot truck driver is the first and most important step in the direction to become an experienced truck driver. Hotshot trucking will let you gain experience while your CDL matures. You can continue to work as a hotshot truck driver or join the trucking career permanently.
Hotshot trucking is great because it requires less effort and investment but the wages are quite decent compared to regular trucking jobs. It is simple to find hotshot trucking tasks even for the individual driver.
Starting a hotshot trucking business is also a viable option. With enough experience, good investment, and some paperwork you can start your own hotshot trucking business. In today’s world of fast-paced deliveries and online shopping, it is a lucrative business idea.