How Much Do Hotshots Make?

all about the benjamins_mini (1).jpg

Show me the Benjamins

Ask before you buy the truck
— Know your numbers

The 2017-2018 freight rush is no more. Current status is lower load volumes and higher truck densities.
— Ya'll best fight to hang on!


The high wave of 2018 is long gone folks. The current status of 2019 is showing a decrease in freight volume - that means few loads out there.

We can talk about tariffs, taxes, walls and all kinds of reasons why - but the fact remains, it’s tight out there.

Add to this, the upswing of 2017 and the over-the-top high of 2018, well that enticed more folks into trucking. And the Supreme Court ruling regarding employees vs contractors - that, too, pushed up the number of carrier authorities, as those contracted lease on folks had to go get their own MC.

So the lower volume of loads. the higher volume of trucks….yeah, we’re fighting out there. Be prepared. Get the best damn dispatcher you can - even if that’s yourself, because there’s no room out there to make mistakes.

Did I mention the average cost of motor carrier insurance has gone up? Feeling it at the pumps, too. All the wrong things are going up and the best of what we eat on is going down.

Hotshot Rates 2019 >

the Money-Trucking Parts

So you want to be a money trucking hotshot, right? Let’s see if you got what it takes.

The four parts needed to build a stock hot shot business.

  1. Trailer

  2. Location

  3. Over the Road Duration

  4. Seasonal Smarts

Find out how these four parts can earn six figures.

How Much Does Hot Shot Trucking Pay?

First, how much does it cost to run a hotshot? Then you'll know you're profits. 

Let's break down some scenarios. 

How Much Do Hot Shots Make? It’s all up to you…

Just so you know, these are PER WEEK figures. So for each week you’re out there….and by the way, on average, most carriers run about 38 weeks out of the year. (Low season is, well, lower; and high season…you guessed it, is higher. These are what you call averages.)

We’re about 9% lower in 2019 when compared to the last two years.
— Updated April 2019

Carrier A

This guy has a 35+5 trailer and can load 16,500 pounds. He runs OTR (over the road), using strategy to follow the money. He is on the road 3 weeks per month; taking long vacation over Christmas/New Years.

Some trucks run 3 weeks out and 1 week home; vacationing from Thanksgiving - New Years. Having a “weekend” off just isn’t gonna cut it. Plus, if “home” is not right in a freight hub…why take the hit in/out so often?

Carrier B

Carrier B either has the same set up as Carrier A, but he only runs regionally. Or he runs the same as Carrier A, but he has a shorter trailer / lower load capacity. See the dip in money?

Carrier C

Carrier C has a shorter trailer/lower load capacity AND only runs an area. (Areas are smaller than regions, bigger than “local”)

Betcha didn’t think it would cost so much to run, eh?
— Know your operating costs down to the penny


All three of these carriers have the same operating requirements. They each likely have the $1,000 per month insurance payment. Truck & trailer payments are no less, just because he runs closer to home.

These are best case scenarios, because depending on where the regional guy lives - the revenue may be quite a bit less. In fact, the load availability may be a lot less as well. Unless you’re running OTR and following the freight money, you’re business is completely dependent upon the ups & downs of your area!

We only dispatch the A Carrier
— They know where the revenue is

Let’s look under the hood


Tons of freight needs to be moved. Literally, tons.

Of that, about 6% is partial or LTL freight. This is the size that would fit on a hotshot. A typical hotshot can load 40 feet of deck and around 16,500 pounds.

Smaller Trailer?
— That's a bummer

You get a shorter trailer, with a lower load capacity, you’re now able to haul some of that 6%. The smaller the trailer, the fewer load options you have.

If you're pulling a smaller trailer, well, that's a bummer. Juniors are just not gonna get the rate a 40 will. And ya best have a truck that can handle this.


Not just where you start, but where you’re willing to go

Regions around the country vary in load volume and rate.

Hell, this can even vary by state and sometimes by city.

If you’re starting in an area that has few loads and/or shit rates, you’ve got to be willing to jump start yourself into a better location. Obviously.

Even if you’re in a hot spot, if you don’t travel the miles, you aren’t going to make as much. Shorter runs are slightly higher rates will not make as much as longer runs with more miles. Math 101. Miles = Money.

Avoid Dead Ends
— Always have an out

Location is a major factor. Don't put yourself in DEAD END locations, with no freight to get you out. And if you live in a dead area, well, count on fighting to get out and get home - but once you're in the zone, it's all money baby.

Know thy load locations

If you take a load, at say, $2.00 a mile and you run that for a long run (maybe cross the country?), so say it paid you $4300. You might be doing the happy dance.

But're sitting waiting for the next load. Another day goes by. Then you get to deadhead for over 200 miles or more. You can only find a back haul paying you a whopping $0.96 to go aaaaaalllll the way back cross country.

That $4300 doesn't look so pretty any more does it? That's why you need strategy. You need a great dispatcher to ramp up your revenue!


Popularity of hotshots in the south

Trucking is a commodity. This means that the load rates will go for what the market will bear.

If you’re in an area that has a LOT of hotshots, the rate is going to go down. Because one of them (say it ain’t you!) is going to take that load for less. The more trucks in a given area, sets off a race to the bottom. Bottom of the rates that is.

That’s a race to the bottom
— Some fool's gonna take cheap rates

Wanna know what states most hotshots live in?

Texas and Georgia are the top two.

And guess what, neither one of those states has sustainable hotshot freight. Not really. Don’t think there’s tons of hotshot freight, just because you see a lot of truckload (TL) loads.

For those that want to stay in a particular region, you may well be limiting yourself.

Being home every night/weekend
— is being broke

So there’s more hotshots in the south. And guess what? More often than not, they want to hang close. Up goes the density of trucks. Down goes the rates. Not to mention the availability of loads.


Yes, freight has seasons. Some are super hot, others frigid cold

First of all, freight has seasons. You can read all about that here.

But secondly, let’s talk about “Driver’s Season”.

Driver Season is when the driver is following the “optimal” temperatures. So in the winter, he’s trying to stay south of the I-40. Do you realize how many trucks are trying to stay in the SE during the winter?

Didn’t we just talk about truck density?

When you read about freight seasons, you’ll notice that you sure don’t want to have a brand new authority rolling out during the low season. You’ll find your finances on thin ice!

Put the Parts together
— to build your success


Hotshots make six-figures, with the right four-parts.

If you’ve put together all the right parts AND use dispatch strategies - hotshots gross $180,000 - $200,000 per year. And between $3500 - $6000 per week.

If you’re not making this level of money
— You took a wrong turn

This accounts for the feast and famine of freight seasons.

This assumes you’re running about three weeks out of the month. Take vacations during the low season. And go where the freight is, not just the sunshine. Have a trailer that gives you the most options of the loads out there.

— Make an a$$ out of you and me

It also assumes that during the high season, you manage your store to get through the winter. You eat all the summer bounty the minute you get it, well, my friend, you’re gonna struggle. Live on low season rations, so that high season loads your coffers. (What kind of word is ‘coffers”?)

Seasonal Rates per Mile
— $1.50 to $2.50

Hot shots with the right trailer, that position themselves in high volume areas, and roll OTR (as opposed to being home)....well, you my friend should be grossing $3500-6000 per week.

UPDATE: ….grossing $3500-4500 per week…..we’re not hitting the $6000 mark this year yet.

Let’s just talk honest numbers here.
— Not those fishing tales

Breakdown of CPM: cost per mile

This is an average for all months of the year.

Do you want to see what each month looks like? Take a look HERE.
Your truck/trailer/insurance costs may vary. Heck, all these costs may vary. Maybe you’re heavy footed and run $0.50 for fuel/per mile. Or…your insurance rates are sky high because you had a former wanna-be-Nascar life.

Hotshot’s got more in their pockets

A flatbed TL should be making $2.00-3.00 per mile, on average. The COST of running that semi is much greater than running your 3500 dually. So hotshots making $1.50-2.50 per mile are really putting a much higher portion of that revenue in their pockets.

What business can you make $20,000 a month from the get go? 
— It aint selling french fries.

If you build it, they will pay…

Wanna know about rate per mile?
— Well, c'mon then