Generally speaking, non-CDL hotshot trucking is not worth it. Here’s why.

Think of a good reason why someone wouldn’t have a CDL. There’s really only one reason that somebody doesn’t have a CDL — they have a bad driving record. Maybe something happened recently that makes them an undesirable hire if they were to get a CDL. That’s the only reason.

But if you have a clean driving record, please get your CDL. You’re more likely to get hired with a CDL than without one. A non-CDL hotshot is not worth it because you don’t have a backup plan.

But suppose you get your CDL and you drive a non-CDL hotshot — basically a truck and a trailer that has under 26,000 pounds — and for some reason, it doesn’t work out. No problem — you can move up to a dually or a 40-footer. And if that doesn’t work, you can move up to a semi. And if that still doesn’t work, you can be a company driver. You could do local, you can do whatever — you have way more options.

So if you’re asking, “I want to do a non-CDL hotshot. I want to drive my gas pickup truck, or I want to pull a small little trailer. What do you think?”

Well, here’s the straight answer: It’s not worth it. It makes more sense to get a CDL, even if it’s with restrictions — with the air brake restriction, with the automatic restriction, etc. That’s fine. Just get a CDL because Landstar doesn’t hire owner-operators without a CDL. You have to have a CDL to work for Landstar. And so you can get your CDL and drive say, a Sprinter van. You have more flexibility and options with the CDL — some kind of CDL — than without one.

The Bottom Line

It’s not beneficial — and very limiting, both in loads and in opportunities — to drive a non-CDL hotshot. On the other hand, having a CDL gives you more possibilities regardless of what equipment you drive. Do you agree or disagree? Let us know in the comments below.