Do I Need A CDL for Hotshot Trucking? – And Other Common Questions

June 14, 2024 3:32 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

Hotshot trucking has gained popularity in recent years as a flexible and potentially lucrative option for truck drivers. If you’re considering entering the hotshot trucking industry, you likely have questions about licensing, getting started, and what to expect. One of the most common queries among aspiring hotshot truckers is whether a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) is required. Let’s dive into this and other frequently asked questions about hotshot trucking.

Understanding Hotshot Trucking

Before we delve into the specifics of licensing requirements, let’s clarify what hotshot trucking entails. Hotshot trucking involves using smaller trucks to transport time-sensitive loads, typically over short to medium distances. These loads are often urgent or require expedited delivery, making hotshot trucking a vital service in various industries, including oil and gas, construction, and agriculture.

Key Characteristics of Hotshot Trucking

  • Flexible Schedule: Hotshot truckers often enjoy more flexibility in their schedules compared to traditional long-haul trucking.
  • Variety of Cargo: Hotshot trucks can carry a wide range of cargo, from small machinery and construction materials to automotive parts and perishable goods.
  • Shorter Distances: While hotshot truckers can cover long distances, they typically focus on regional or local deliveries, optimizing efficiency and turnaround times.

Do You Need a CDL for Hotshot Trucking?

The question of whether a CDL is required for hotshot trucking is a common one, and the answer depends on various factors, including the weight of your vehicle and the type of cargo you transport. In the United States, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) sets regulations regarding commercial driver licensing.

CDL Requirements for Hotshot Trucking

  • Class of Vehicle: If your hotshot truck’s Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) exceeds 26,000 pounds, you will likely need a CDL to operate it. This requirement applies regardless of whether you’re transporting goods across state lines or within a single state.
  • Type of Cargo: Certain types of cargo may also necessitate a CDL, even if your vehicle’s weight falls below the 26,000-pound threshold. Hazardous materials, for example, typically require CDL endorsement.

How to Get Started in Hotshot Trucking

If you’re interested in pursuing a career in hotshot trucking, here are some steps to get started:

1. Research Licensing Requirements

Begin by researching the licensing requirements in your jurisdiction. This includes determining whether you need a CDL and any endorsements necessary for the type of cargo you intend to transport.

2. Obtain the Necessary Licenses and Endorsements

If a CDL is required for hotshot trucking in your area, enroll in a reputable truck driving school to obtain the necessary training and certification. Additionally, if you plan to transport hazardous materials or other specialized cargo, ensure you acquire the appropriate endorsements.

3. Acquire a Suitable Vehicle

Invest in a reliable hotshot truck that meets your needs in terms of cargo capacity, fuel efficiency, and reliability. Consider factors such as insurance costs and maintenance requirements when selecting a vehicle.

4. Secure Necessary Permits and Insurance

Before hitting the road, ensure you have all the required permits and licenses to operate your hotshot truck legally. Additionally, invest in comprehensive insurance coverage to protect yourself, your vehicle, and your cargo.

5. Establish Relationships with Shippers and Brokers

Networking is crucial in the hotshot trucking industry. Establish relationships with shippers, brokers, and other industry stakeholders to secure consistent work and maximize your earning potential.

6. Focus on Safety and Compliance

Maintain a strong focus on safety and compliance with regulatory requirements. Stay up-to-date on industry regulations and best practices to ensure the safe and efficient operation of your hotshot trucking business.


Whether you need a CDL for hotshot trucking depends on the weight of your vehicle and the type of cargo you transport. Researching and understanding the licensing requirements in your jurisdiction is essential before embarking on a career in hotshot trucking. By obtaining the necessary licenses, acquiring a suitable vehicle, and prioritizing safety and compliance, you can set yourself up for success in this dynamic and rewarding industry.

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