Reefer, flatbed, dry van, these are the main divisions you will have to pick from to haul.
Like most things in life, the bigger the risk the higher the pay out. Flatbed tends to pay the highest cents per mile (CPM), but it is also the riskiest. You will have way more stopping to do to check your loads, you will have a lot of physical activities and climbing to secure your loads, and for the most part, when the economy slows down, flatbed is the first to start slowing down. This can be extra scary if you are leasing or trying to feed a family even if the economy takes a dump and your miles drop with it..
Dry van is decent pay and tends to be fairly stable. Ups and downs, but not as huge as flatbed. Sure when the economy tanks dry van takes a good hit since not as many people will be buying tv's and what not, but not as bad as flatbed. There are times of the year where miles will slump as not as many goods are bought.
Reefer is the most stable and consistent of them all. Similar in CPM to dry van. Day in and day out the one thing that even a crash in the economy can not stop is people needing to eat. Through thick and thin reefer trucks are always needed to get food around. This makes for a much more reliable year after year kind of income. This makes leasing much more comfortable as you know there will always be loads. The downside to reefer is it can at times have some crazy delivery hours, like 3am. Dry van might have this too, but probably not as often as reefer. Most drivers feel it is a small price to pay for the consistent miles you can get with reefer.
If you look historically at the companies that weather the storms of the economy it is generally the dry van and reefer companies. Most big companies build on these types of commodity to haul because of the stability and relevance even when the economy makes a run for the boarder.
In an attempt to let people know what it is like for over the road drivers, I am heading out with Jim Palmer Trucking driver Allie Knight.