How to Become a Hotshot Driver

Truck for a hero section
Written by Mike Skliar

What is hotshot driving?

In cargo transportation, promptness and safety are the benchmarks of quality and professionalism. These benchmarks become increasingly significant when it comes to hotshot trucking – a special, complicated form of trucking in which drivers haul special, time-sensitive equipment that requires quick delivery, using a pickup truck and a flatbed trailer. 

Most of the equipment transported by hotshot drivers are agricultural equipment, construction equipment, machinery, LTL items, and other goods that need to be carried urgently. As a rule, hotspot drivers are contracted truckers who drive their own commercial vehicles. Also, hotshot drivers may work for transportation companies and transport loads for business needs or as freelance opportunities. 

How to Become a Hotshot Driver: What They Do and What the Benefits Are 

Hotshot drivers are responsible for maintaining project schedules according to the client’s requirements through delivering equipment for businesses who need materials delivered overnight. The career of a hotshot driver will suit entrepreneurs who like turbulent and non-stop driving! 

Hotshot drivers have a variety of critical responsibilities: 

  • Load and unload freight onto trucks for a client
  • Record information about cargo and mileage
  • Maintain vehicle and trailers they operate in proper condition 
  • Get in touch with the clients who need loads hauled to a work site
  • Provide clients with information about invoices 

The Benefits of Becoming a Hotshot Driver

  • Cost-friendly start-ups 

Becoming a hotshot driver doesn’t cost you an arm and leg – you only need to buy equipment that, as a rule, has proper license and a vehicle

  • License that is easy to obtain 

If drivers haul under freight that weighs less than 10,000 pounds, you can be qualified as a hotspot driver and not go to a driving school to get a CDL

  • Good gigs

Hotshot drivers are allowed to set their prices and choose the loads to haul, which gives them an opportunity to take control over their income 

  • Individual schedule 

Hotshot drivers can choose when to haul cargo and where they haul it. Setting an individual schedule is a savory benefit many owner operators get easily attracted by

  • Close proximity to home 

Another weighty reason why many truckers choose to become hotshot drivers is being able to get home within the same day of delivery.

How to Become a Hotshot Truck Driver 

If the benefits and “goodies” listed do appeal to you, then there’s a good chance you may start contemplating a hotshot driver’s position. That said, next thing you will need is a step-by-step guide on how to become a hotshot truck driver. 

Step 1: Get a valid driver’s license 

For hotshot drivers, a basic Class D driver’s license will do. A Class D license is the standard license most citizens receive after applying for a license. If the loads weigh less than 10,000 pounds, hotshot drivers don’t need a commercial driver’s license (CDL) that are required for truck drivers. Hotshot drivers should also maintain clean driving records for clients for credibility and trustworthiness. 

Step 2: Apply for a USDOT number 

A United States Department of Transportation number, or USDOT, is a form of identification that drivers need for safety reports, audits, and incidents. Hotshot drivers are eligible to apply for a USDOT number using the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s website. Applying for a USDOT number can cost drivers $300, and this is a necessary procedure for fulfilling legal requirements of carrying freight. 

Step 3: Buy necessary equipment  

As a rule, hotshot drivers operate a pickup truck. The model of truck to choose relies on the sizes of loads that hotshot truckers transport. Most commonly, drivers pull trailers to accommodate freight. As you pick a trailer, take into consideration not only the weight and equipment of the loads you plan to be carried, but also make sure that your truck can pull a trailer. 

Step 4: Purchase liability insurance 

For hotshot drivers, buying liability insurance allows them to secure themselves from possible glitches and pitfalls and their businesses. A USDOT number can be quite helpful to insurance providers, allowing them to calculate the exact amount of insurance coverage. 

5. Develop a professional network 

For hotshot drivers to expand their professional opportunities, building a network of clients and driving peers is a great option to consider. Professional networks are valuable resources to gain information about the industry and grow within that industry. Your connections in the network you’ve built will help you advance in your career as a hotshot driver. 

6. Get more cargo loads and deliveries

Upon receiving licenses and proper equipment to carry freight, get down to searching for job opportunities. Normally, hotshot drivers successfully find jobs on load boards – websites that feature postings from different businesses as well as private clients who need fast delivery. On such websites, truckers can access free load boards.

Also, truckers can consider looking for subscription-based load boards, where they can find more financially attractive delivery requests. This type of board requires drivers to pay fees but it’s definitely worth a try – therein, truckers can find a broader range of job opportunities, which are always up to date, higher-paying, and more credible. 

The Bottom Line

Hotshot trucking is having its finest hour these days. The form of trucking that pays well, requiring very little in return, can’t go unnoticed and not attract the attention of avid drivers, including owner-operators. Hotshot driving is an indispensable trucking type that meets urgent and complex need for speed and quality of a client – that said, taking up this the career of a hotshot driver is something you should definitely consider!

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Author Mike Skliar

As the truck driver recruiting agency's CEO, I deeply understand the unique challenges and demands truck drivers face.

Drawing from my extensive work experience, I bring knowledge in truck driver recruitment, logistics, and transportation management. I possess a comprehensive understanding of industry regulations, safety standards, and best practices, ensuring that the agency adheres to the highest standards of professionalism and compliance.

Now, looking back and remembering my path from the very beginning, it seems to me that this story is a lifetime. During all these years of development and growth of our agency, I took part in no less interesting projects in which my experience, knowledge and vision were needed. And I was also able to gain new skills, contacts and experience by participating in the development of these projects from various fields, such as cargo transportation, trucking companies, e-commerce, parcel delivery and much more! But the best is yet to come!

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