Is Hotshot Trucking Worth It?

Published on
overhead view of a red pickup truck with boxes ready to be loaded

In this day and age, we’re all thinking about ways to make money. We do it through different sources—whether it’s a full-time job, a side hustle, or our own business (or all of the above). Having multiple streams of income is good for a person’s financial health.

Hotshot trucking is a way to do just that. It's a simple way to make money for pickup truck owners. It can be profitable, but how much depends on multiple factors. Either way, hotshot trucking is a great opportunity for those who have trucks, trailers, and some free time. 

Is it worth it? We think yes, but it is ultimately up to you to decide if it’s the right fit for you.

What is Hotshot Trucking?

Hotshot trucking is a freight service that uses smaller vehicles to deliver smaller loads in a time sensitive manner. Hotshot trucking uses independent contractors instead of commercial drivers to transport less than truckload (LTL) loads from one destination to another, quickly and efficiently.

These contractors have their own trucks and flatbed trailers to go from point A to point B without a bunch of stops in between. It is ideal when someone needs their small cargo shipped expeditiously. Generally, it’s used when shippers or receivers are in a pinch.

Is Hotshot Trucking in Demand?

Hotshot trucking is very in demand, especially with the serious supply chain issues causing delays over the last few years. The demand for freight transportation is rising. However, the shipping industry is still facing a shortage of drivers.

The trucking industry is one of the most lucrative industries in the United States. In 2020, hotshot trucking accounted for approximately 80% of the freight bill. Clearly, hotshot trucking is a popular solution. 

Seasonality Can Affect Demand

However, the need for hotshot trucking can vary depending on the area and the time of year. Think about things such as construction projects and festivals that require a lot of LTL deliveries. In warm climates, like the West, these activities could take place year-round. 

In places with colder weather, like the Northeast, there may only be one or two seasons for constructions and festivals. When this is the case, the demand for hotshot trucking will vary depending on the time of year. 

Does hotshot trucking sound like something you’d like to take on? Open Road is a shipping marketplace, connecting drivers and shippers across the Southwest. Drivers get paid fast, and only take the jobs they want. Learn more about driving with Open Road.

How Much Do Hotshot Drivers Make?

There is no one size fits all answer to this question. Hotshot trucking can be profitable, but may vary case-to-case. Hotshot drivers generally get paid one to two dollars per mile driven. However, there are many factors to consider when setting rates. 

The rate per mile you charge is up to you as a driver. Consider these factors when setting your rate: 

  • Nature of the freight
  • Weight
  • Distance 
  • Time restraints 

A full-time hotshot truck driver's salary is typically around $60,000 a year. But, with experience and hard work, you can make upwards of $120,000. The profit margin for hotshot drivers is anywhere from 25% to 85%, but the average is 60%

Overall, hotshot trucking is what you make it. Depending on what jobs you’re willing to do and how much time you’re willing to spend driving, it can be quite lucrative (or provide just a little extra spending cash).

Other Things to Consider

If you are thinking about venturing into the hotshot trucking business, there are some things to consider. Though it is a convenient way to make extra money and you can do it on your own terms, there are some considerations to acknowledge before taking the plunge.

Operating Costs

Hotshot truckers are the owner operators of their own vehicles and trailers, so you have to think about the operational costs. This includes the wear and tear on your vehicle and trailer, gas prices, as well as food and accommodation on longer trips. 

On the bright side, however, a hotshot driver typically does less maintenance than a commercial truck driver because there is no company-mandated service required. You freelance your own personal vehicle and equipment without being tied to any corporate policies and procedures. Though, keeping your vehicle and equipment in the best shape possible only benefits your enterprise.

Setting Your Schedule

As a hotshot driver, you can either work as a contractor for trucking companies and schedule jobs through them, or work independently and set your own schedule by finding jobs on load boards. The more you drive, the more you make, but lots of time on the road is not for everyone. 

Hotshot trucking gives drivers a lot of freedom—you can stay in a particular area or region, decide when you want to work, and which jobs you want to take. 

This allows for you to drive as much or as little as you want. You can be on the road and make as much money as possible, or you can make some extra money as a side gig while still getting to spend a lot of time at home and enjoying your own individual life. The freedom (and the money) are some of the best parts of the job.

The downside is the fact that the workload can be unpredictable. The jobs are based on the needs of business and organizations around the country. Sometimes there may be many jobs available to pick up, and other times—not as much. 

Ready to Get Driving?

If you’re ready to start driving, Open Road is the platform to turn to. It is a shipping marketplace that helps ship products for smaller businesses faster.

Open Road makes it easy for drivers and the businesses needing LTL shipments hauled anywhere in the Southwest. Drivers are able to pick whichever rides they want and create their own schedule. The more you drive, the more jobs will become available to you.

Register your vehicle with Open Road, find and claim a job, and communicate with the shipper and receiver all through one app. If you’re ready to use equipment you already have, take control of your own schedule, and make some money, sign up on the Open Road app today. 

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