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What Do the Average Hot Shot Loads Pay?

There are numerous opportunities for trucking positions within the industry. Whether you choose to work for a traditional trucking employer or start your own business, there is no right or wrong. 

But before you make a decision on a career change, having all the pertinent data will help guide your choice – which is why you’re here. Hot shot truckers deliver time-sensitive loads. Continue reading to learn more about what you can expect a career in hot shot trucking to look like and the amount of income you can expect to make.

What is Hot Shot Trucking?

Hot shot trucking is when a truck driver delivers time-sensitive loads to a customer. There are many reasons for the expedited service, but the rush delivery is part of the appeal to many drivers. No one day will be identical to the next. 

Hot shot drivers tend to haul smaller, LTL loads to a single customer or location. Once the job is complete, they are on to the next. Hot shot trucking is not a full-time employment position. Instead, drivers act as independent contractors, which has its pros and cons depending upon what you’re looking for in a career. 

How Are Hot Shot Rates Calculated?

There are many factors that have to be considered when calculating hot shot rates. Things like urgency, load size, location, and type of load all play a factor in calculating rates. Some rates are even lower if they’re considered a partial load as well. 

Many people like to gauge their payment off a pay-per-mile rate. In order to calculate this figure, you should take the rate that you’ll be receiving for the entire delivery then divide it by the mileage you’re expected to drive. 

This will give you a pay-per-mile freight rate. Once you have this number, you’ll be able to determine if the rate is on par with what you’re expecting and industry standards. Just remember, a smaller load that can be delivered with only a small truck will pay differently than a large load that requires the use of a Class 8 semi. 

How Much Do Hot Shot Loads Pay per Mile?

As we mentioned above a time or two, hot shot loads do not have a flat pay per mile. Instead, each load is based on the factors outlined above. However, to help guide you to determine if a load is a good opportunity or not, we’ll explore the industry averages. Again, these are just averages to give you an example, and nothing is set in stone. 

Generally, hot shot load rates sit around $1.50 per mile. Jobs that are more complex or more urgent can pay up to $2 per mile. And, of course, jobs that are easier to complete sometimes pay a minimum of $1 per mile. 

How Much Should I Charge for My Hot Shot Services?

There are many factors that you should consider before determining what to charge for your hot shot service. First, start by finding the going outbound rate for hot shot services in your city. 

Compare all the highest and lowest rates to determine the average in your area. Once you’ve determined how much others are charging, you then need to look at how much it costs to operate your business. 

You don’t want to offer your services so cheap that you can’t return a profit. If you only run a 3,500 dually, your costs will be lower than if you run a semi. Be sure to take all these and other overhead factors into consideration before determining how much to charge for your service. 

How Much Money Can You Make as a Hot Shot Driver?

If you were to talk to 100 different drivers, they would all tell you a different figure for how much they earn for their hot shot services. The earning potential relies on factors such as load type and size, but also how frequently you work. If you are constantly hustling and on the road, you have the potential to be a top earner. However, if you want the freedom to pick and choose when you work, your income could still be comfortable but less than top performers. 

All that being said, on average a hot shot trucker makes between $60,000 to $120,000 in gross annual income. Keep in mind that hot shot trucking does require you to pay for your own expenses as well. Fuel, maintenance, insurance, licenses, fees, food, tolls, ELD, and more all come out of your pocket, which will impact your overall income. 

How to Find Loads for Hot Shot Trucking?

There are a few ways that you can find hot shot trucking loads. The first is the good ol’ fashioned way of contacting potential clients directly. Pick up the phone and call manufacturers, auto dealers, or other professionals who can help you. 

This requires a lot of extra work but can provide you with a trusted relationship with your clients where they turn to you time after time.

The second and most common option is to use hot shot trucking load boards. These load boards do require a fee for their service, but they are able to match your equipment and desired routes with the current needs of clients to help you find a match quickly. 

Factors To Consider With Hot Shot Trucking Rates

As we explored above, there are factors that you should consider when determining what an appropriate hot shot trucking rate should be. 

Size of Freight

What are you hauling? Is it a small load that can be completed with just a truck, an LTL load, or a full truckload? There’s the possibility that the load could be oversized or hazardous as well. 

All of these factors should be considered when determining the trucking rate. A smaller or LTL load will pay less per mile than a full truckload or oversized load. 


Location is also an important factor. Getting the freight from point A to point B can tell you how many miles you’re expected to drive and the timeframe, but the location is more than that. If your home base is in a location where there is a high demand for hot shot truckers, the price you can charge will increase. 

It’s all about the availability of quality drivers and the demand for them. If you’re in a competitive market, you might be forced to charge less to keep active. 

Distance Traveled

Here’s where it’s important to figure out what is required to get from point A to point B. How many miles will you be traveling? Are there any tolls on this trip? How much fuel is required? 

All of these questions are important to address before determining how much to charge for the hot shot rate. There are times where you’re able to negotiate a return fee for your load, but that’s not always the case. Be sure to factor in all the variables. 


Urgency in just about every industry costs a premium, and hot shot trucking is no different. Customers expect to pay more to get their freight expedited. 

Personal Expenses

The last thing you should consider with your hot shot trucking rate is how many personal expenses you will have on the road. Outside of tolls and fuel, will you need overnight accommodations? Will you need to eat out while you’re on the road? These expenses all play a factor into your bottom line, so they’re important to consider in your pricing. 

Advantages of Hot Shot Trucking

If you’ve made it this far, it’s safe to say you’re likely considering the advantages of hot shot trucking to determine if it’s worth it. As a hot shot trucker, you’ll be afforded these advantages:

  • Lower start-up costs than other trucking businesses
  • Loads are generally local or regional
  • Loads are often expedited
  • Income tends to be equal to or better than most Class 8 pay

Disadvantages of Hot Shot Trucking

But before you make the decision to jump into hot shot trucking, you should be aware of the disadvantages or potential drawbacks that might arise along the way.

  • Driver is self-employed and responsible for all out-of-pocket costs
  • Inconsistent demand for your service
  • Hard to grow a steady client base

Hot Shot Trucking Earnings Depend on You

That’s right. How much can you make with hot shot trucking relies on many factors that are in your hands. Are you looking to work as frequently as possible, take urgent jobs, and drive further distances? If so, there’s great potential for pay. 

However, if you are picky about the loads you take and want the freedom to work when you want and how you want, your income will not be as high as others. There’s no guarantee to say how much you’re going to make as a hot shot driver, but if you’re dedicated to providing a reliable service it can be a great career and business opportunity.

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Find Your Next Load Now.

One load board. Unlimited opportunities! Truckstop Load Board Pro gives you freedom, flexibility, and control to run your business your way.

Find Your Next Load Now.

One load board. Unlimited opportunities! Truckstop Load Board Pro gives you freedom, flexibility, and control to run your business your way.