How to Get Non-CDL Hot Shot Loads [9 Strategies That Work]

If you want to learn how to get a steady stream of non-CDL hot shot loads, you are in the right place.

You can get non-CDL hot shot loads through various channels, but load boards are one of the most reliable ways to get these types of loads. You will want to use a load board that consistently lists these types of loads and filter your search to meet non CDL weight limitations as well as any other requirements based on your vehicle and tow set-up.

In this article, I am going to cover 9 of the best load boards out there that you can explore to find these types of loads.

I'll also cover some introductory stuff around what is a hot shot business and what are CDL requirements and why they matter. But if you want to skip ahead to the load board list, just click here.

This post may contain affiliate links. If you click on a link and complete a transaction, I may make a small commission at no extra cost to you. 

The information contained in this post is for informational purposes only.  It is not a recommendation to buy or invest, and it is not financial, investment, legal, or tax advice.  You should seek the advice of a qualified professional before making any investment or other decisions relating to the topics covered by this article.

What is a Hot Shot Business?

Before we dive in to the list, I think it's important to give a proper introduction to hot shot trucking so we are all on the same page.

A hot shot trucking business is a business where you haul smaller loads (less-than-truckload or LTL) that are often critical and time-sensitive. For example, when construction companies need something urgently (i.e., a piece of equipment broke down, etc.), a hot shot trucker gets the job done quickly and on short notice.

These types of loads can provide some nice opportunistic extra income for the truck owner-operator or trucking business owner. Hot shot truckers deliver a wide range of cargo, including refrigerated items, manufacturing cargo, agricultural and construction equipment and materials, and much more.

Hot shot drivers typically operate heavy duty pick-up trucks with trailers, but can also drive larger vehicles. That being said, Class 8 semis are rare for hot shot loads and these vehicles are usually reserved for larger long distance loads.

If you want to learn more about how to start a hot shot business, check out my full article on the topic. It takes you through the process step-by-step and also includes additional ways to find loads (other than load boards).

When Do You Need a CDL and Why Does it Matter?

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), you need a CDL if you meet the following conditions:

Any combination of vehicles which has a gross combination weight rating or gross combination weight of 26,001 pounds or more whichever is greater, inclusive of a towed unit(s) with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) or gross vehicle weight of more than 10,000 pounds whichever is greater.

Note: There are other categories of CDLs too which may apply, such as when you are hauling certain hazardous materials, etc.

Now I mentioned that many hot shot truckers use a pickup truck with a gooseneck trailer.

In most cases, a vehicle like a Ford F250 won't pose issues from a weight perspective (it usually only weighs between 6,000 to 7,000 lbs), but when you add on a trailer, especially something like a gooseneck, which can weigh several thousands pounds empty and also tends to have high GVWR, you may run into trouble (particularly for the 10,000 pound part of the test that relates to the towed unit).

So be careful and make sure your set up isn't going to violate these rules.

Of course, you can look into other types of trailers, such as smaller bumper pull trailers, which can weigh much less and will usually have lower GVWR.

Now, you want to make sure you comply with the law here because the penalties for driving without a CDL are severe. Under Federal law, the penalties are a minimum of $2,500 and can be as much as $5,000 and include up to a year in jail. On top of that, your license could be suspended for 90 days – leaving you with no ability to work and therefore no income. In addition to federal penalties, you could be facing penalties from your state as well. Source

Ok, now that we've got the introductory stuff out the way, let's dive into how you can get non-CDL hot shot loads. I've collected some of the top load boards out there which offer hot shot loads. They include both paid and free options, so there should be something for you, regardless of your budget.

How to Get Non-CDL Hot Shot Loads

Now, the key to using the load boards mentioned below is making sure to check that the load is not going to cause you to exceed the weight restrictions for a CDL. In most cases, you want to search for LTL or partial loads and then further refine your search based on weight, size, etc. depending on the type of trailer you have.

Paid Hot Shot Load Boards

1. DAT [Top Recommendation]

When it comes to load boards, DAT is a clear market leader, with nearly 900,000 loads posted daily (including tons of hot shot truck loads as well).

Because of their size and scope, they also have leading edge tech and info, including unlimited searching, instant alarm match notifications, broker credit scores, days to pay, market rates, mileage routing and much more.

Their pricing is reasonable and in line with other major paid load boards. As of the date of this article, they are offering the following plans for the TruckersEdge load board product:

  • DAT TruckersEdge: Standard ($39.95/month) – includes unlimited search, alarm for new search results, company reviews, available loads by state.
  • DAT TruckersEdge: Enhanced ($75/month) – includes all standard features plus average rates for past 30 days, broker credit scores, average days to pay.
  • DAT TruckersEdge: Professional ($125/month) – includes all Enhanced features plus average rates for past 15 days, access to Tri-Haul: better paying rates, and IFTA fuel tax calculator.

There are no long terms contracts, so you can stop at any time.

I have an affiliate relationship with DAT and secured a deal where if you use my link, you can get a free 30 day trial for any of their plans. So, you get to try out this industry-leading load board for a full month for free. I would note that this deal is only for new DAT subscribers.

If you are interested, just click on the banner below to take advantage of this no-risk offer.

2. TruckStop

Truck Stop also has a robust load board that includes hot shot loads.

They have three pricing options for their load board, with the most affordable plan coming in at $39/month. The more expensive options are $125 and $149 per month, but you get access to more features, such as broker credit and days to pay information.

If you want to learn more, check out their website here.

3. 123Load Board

Another fairly well-known player in the industry is 123 Load Board. They are a general load board, but offer hot shot loads on their platform. I like their easy to use interface, which allows you to sort by size (choose LTL) as well as length and weight.

Their pricing is as follows:

  • Standard Plan: $35 (includes access to load board, real time load alerts, website and mobile access)
  • Premium Plan: $45 (includes everything that the standard plan includes, plus mileage and maps and document capturing and storage)
  • Premium Plus: $55 (includes everything that the premium plan includes, plus enhanced mileage and maps & tolls, industry freight rates, etc.)

They offer a 10 day trial for all of their plans, so you can try them out without risk and see if their platform works for you.

Ok, we've covered the paid options, now let's jump into the best free hot shot load boards.

Free Hot Shot Load Boards

4. Trucker Path

Trucker Path is an interesting option.

Perhaps one of the biggest selling points is that you can get hot shot loads for free. You simply go on their website and search for loads. You get a limited number of searches per day, but can upgrade your account to a paid account and get more robust features, as well as access to the best loads.

If you want to check them out, here is the link to their website.

5. Shiply

Shiply is another free load board that you can access.

They have a different business model altogether. You won't be charged any fees to access their load board. But they will tack on their fee when you actually book a load. That way, you don't pay them unless you actually book a load with them. Seems like a pretty low risk option and one worth exploring.

They offer a wide variety of loads, but their website specifically mentions hot shot loads, so they are definitely catering to hot shot operators.

If you want to learn more about using Shiply to find free hot shot loads, check out their website here.

6. Uship

Another free load board that uses this type of pay-as-you-go pricing structure is Uship. One of they key advantages of using Uship is that you have access to a wide variety of freight available for hot shot operators (so whether you have a pickup and trailer, box truck or other type of vehicle, there may be options for you).

They also have tools that allow you to set your rate, schedule and routes. You can also market your trucking business by filling out a carrier profile, which will allow people to search for you and find reviews and ratings for your business.

7. FR8Star

FR8Star is a free hot shot load board that has some interesting features.

They allow you to filter and find the exact type of load you are looking for. They also provide messaging capability so you can easily communicate with shippers. You can also use their chat feature, which will connect you to FR8Star's customer support if you run into snags along the way.

I also like how they show average line haul rates for the month, including price per mile for hot shot loads. You can see it here.

8. Freight Finder

Another free load board on the list, this one appears to be a bit more straightforward and no frills.

You can go to their website and simply type in the type of load you are looking for. There is, of course, a “hot shot” option that is part of the drop down menu. You then put in the date and route information and you can explore what pops up.

When I ran a search, there weren't nearly as many options as with some of the bigger paid load boards, but hey' it's free, so it doesn't hurt to check it out.

9. Free Freight Search

On their homepage, these guys claim to be “The World's Largest Free Load Board.” They boast that over 132,000 carriers and brokers use their platform. Bear in mind that in order to get access to their load board, you need to register through their website, so you can't play around and see the types of loads they have without doing that.

They do offer unlimited access to their load boards and freight broker credit reports, which is nice, because for some of the paid boards, you need to shell out extra to get broker credit reports.

This can be a nice tool to have if you want the potentially better load options offered by a paid load board, but don't want to pay more for a premium plan so that you can get the broker credit reports.

Develop Contacts with Companies

Load boards are probably the best way to get a consistent and steady stream of hot shot loads, but you can also pound the pavement and start talking with local companies who may need hot shot deliveries from time to time. Construction companies, manufacturing businesses, and businesses in the medical industry can all be good candidates.

If you prove yourself reliable, they will continue to use you and may recommend you to others. In most cases, the volume won't compete with what you can find on load boards, but every extra bit can help you make more money.

Conclusion

So there you have it – the best ways to get non-CDL hot shot loads. If you want to learn more about how to find more loads with your pickup truck (even if they are not necessarily hotshot loads), check out my article on the topic here.

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