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Truck Driver Salary

Over the road truck drivers typically make the most money with Wal-Mart drivers pulling in significant salaries. With many job opportunities opening up, the field of truck driving is lucrative for beginners. Provided they have the proper training, a truck driver could make up to $71,500 per year.

What are the Highest Paying Jobs?

OTR truck drivers typically make the most money. This is due to the kind of travel they do and the number of hours involved. Since they are paid more, these truck drivers must meet higher standards. They have to keep tight delivery drivers and crisscross the country. Other truck driving gigs that pay well include specialty drivers and long haul truckers. Specialty drivers have to deal with unusual conditions like oversized loads and hazardous materials. To get a job in these fields, they have to be up-to-date on policy changes in the industry and be aware of different state laws.

Any trucker that is in a union is going to make higher pay on average than national companies. Unions have policies in place that set maximum hours and minimum pay rates. Along with higher pay, unions require a set raises and a host of different rules. Although each union is different, they all have set dues and minimum pay rates.

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What Kinds of Truck Drivers Earn the Most?

Ice road truckers will typically make the most. To do this job, a truck driver has to deal with a high level of danger and risk. Individuals in this field can often earn a full year's salary in the span of just a few months. This job title requires skill and bravery. The driver must be able to handle any element and be capable of fixing the truck when it breaks down on the road.

Dump truck drivers in coal mines can make significant amounts of money. The main difficulty in this job is waiting for the truck to be loaded. Each truck has to be filled with coal in a way that does not disrupt the mine. Movements or sudden changes can result in a collapse.

For other truck drivers, driving oversize loads can bring in a decent living. This position requires skill to keep the load balanced and talent at navigating among traffic. To ensure safety, oversize load drivers will typically work with a spotter.

Highest Paying States

A truck driver in the state of Mississippi will earn far more than a counterpart in Washington State. In this region of the country, truck drivers make an average of $68,000 annually. For higher paid positions, truck drivers can look into heavy hauling or long hauling.

The next top states are Wyoming at $61,000 and New York at $60,000. Wyoming offers high pay because of the numerous specialty trucking positions. In New York, truckers earn more money due to the icy roadways and crowded traffic they must traverse throughout the year.

Top Three Jobs with High Salaries

The ice road trucker has to be able to drive across a 414 mile route. Out of this path, 75 percent lies to the north of the Arctic Circle. On these dangerous paths, the truckers have to deal with white outs, dangerous weather, storms and temperatures that drop to as low as -40 degrees Celsius. If they can last three months until the season ends, truck drivers can pull in up to $120,000.

In Australia, dump truck drivers make up to $100,000 a year. This position is in Australia's mining industry and is highly sought after. It requires limited amounts of physical labor so it is applied for frequently by both genders.

Truck drivers in Iraq have to deal with obvious risks ranging from car bombs to kidnapping. Due to the increased risk, these individuals will earn anywhere from $125,000 a year to $250,000. They typically carry supplies or food to military outposts in the region.

Finding a Job

In the age of the Internet, it is easy to search for job positions online and apply. Some of the highest paying jobs are taken quickly, so the best chances of achieving these positions are outside of the traditional job application process. One of the easiest ways to scout around for jobs is to ask a trucker. These individuals can be a useful source of information on getting a CDL license and often know the inside track toward getting a job.

There are some trucking companies that offer free training. Although this typically is accompanied by lower starting pay, it is an invaluable tool for new truckers. In addition to training costs, working for any company for a year allows the newbie to network among other companies and truckers. The added experience level can also make them extremely desirable for other positions.

Beginning truckers can always ask their driving school about available openings. Some schools will have job listings for truckers who complete the training program. These openings are generally designed for beginning truckers and allow newbies to get a toehold in this career field.

Top Companies

If a trucker is still unable to find a job, they can check at one of the following companies. One of the largest corporations for truckers is Conway. This business ships freight for a range of industries in North America. Conway's job postings range from regional to national options. Loomis also operates in the United States and Europe. This business runs an armored car service that transports cash. Due to the precious cargo, Loomis often offers high starting pay.

The adventure-loving trucker can apply for work at KBR. For the daredevil, this company offers jobs in Iraq and Australia. New hires work for one of the top global contractors as they ship construction materials, food and supplies throughout Iraq.

Individuals who have a family or like to return home each night can apply with JB Hunt. This company provides job positions that have set trip schedules and customer interaction. JB Hunt offers regional, OTR and local options.

With so many options available, a career in trucking can be exceptionally easy to begin and lucrative. From ice road trucking to OTR positions, there are job types available for every skill level.

Average Truck Driver Salary

Though one of the most laborious and vital occupations to our industries across the board in the United States, truck drivers often find that their pay varies when on the road.

OTR Driving

The fact of the matter is, America is in need for more truck drivers. According to CNN, with the demand of more goods rising and the general population requiring more transportation for virtually everything, there is certainly no shortage of individuals who are willing to put themselves on the road and serve their Americans.

Companies certainly aren’t giving drivers the short end of the stick when hiring them either – according to CNN there has been a rise in driver salaries from 8-12% in recent years, making the trucking industry one of the most progressive in terms of raising compensation.

Is seems the issue at hand is that individuals aren’t willing to put in their due diligence behind the wheel and make great money – but perhaps that is because they don’t understand what is truly being offered to them. With truck driving companies growing their salaries, opening more positions and offering drivers a multitude of ways to make money, truck driving is one of the most unique job markets in America, and is one that employs over 3.5 million people, according to the American Trucking Association.

Pay Drivers Can Expect

Some drivers see thousands of miles weekly, with cpm payment (cents per mile) anywhere from $0.27 ranging beyond $0.40 depending on their route. Payment for a truck driver truly depends on one’s level of experience, where they make their runs and ultimately, with whom they decide to align with as their main transportation carrier.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual payment for a truck driver is $20.43 – a wage that is highly comparable to other occupations in the United States. For an annual salary estimate truck drivers generally see figures in the $42,000 - $43,000 range, which compares to a nationwide salary of nearly $51,000. The reasoning behind the gap in salaries of truck drivers versus other industries overall has to do with a majority of factors in including number of loads available, the pool of qualified drivers to take on a specific task, or simply the ability to perform one’s job in various climate/geographical circumstances. Nonetheless, we look to our drivers as some of the hardest working and devoted workers of the public sector, often working non-stop for days on end to endlessly deliver our goods when we request them.

Some states that pay drivers the most annually are generally on the East Coast, with Washington, DC New York, and Connecticut boasting the highest average salaries. Washington State drivers will also see great pay offered, as well as those in Georgia. Aside from what industries are booming and burgeoning in particular states, the rhyme and reason for pay is truly variable – some territories can offer drivers incomparable money, other areas will see drivers get much more meager salaries.

How Else Can Drivers Receive Pay?

Another factor drivers consider when looking at their salaries aren’t simply the numbers offered per run – but how the equity of their time is accounted for on the road. In other words, drivers who get paid for loaded runs only versus those who get paid for loaded and unloaded runs. For the latter scenario, drivers essentially see money whenever they are on the road – in transporting good to a location as well as transporting their trailer back to a central hub or another location.

Many drivers can also count on other types of auxiliary pay for their income such as loading and unloading pay, detention pay (pay offered when a driver must stay at a location due to client keeping them there or something of that nature) layover pay and breakdown pay. Of course, drivers generally don’t wish to endure such things as layover and breakdown pay as they inhibit a driver’s ability to get the initial job done, but drivers can often rest assured knowing that they will be compensated for their time, regardless of the issue at hand.

Drivers may also account company incentives into their salaries. When drivers are offered bonuses and benefits such as compensation for safe driving, efficiency on the job, and for consistently upholding company standards, they can count on this as a form of payment. These incentives will vary from company to company and will be wholly dependent on the overall performance of a driver, but allowing drivers to have access to these incentives can be a valuable part of the income they accrue.

What Qualifies a Driver To Get A Great Salary?

Truck drivers must also look to their level of experience and expertise when assessing their annual incomes. Experienced drivers or drivers who have obtained certain endorsements such as the ability to haul tanker or HazMat loads find that they will often make more money than drivers who are inexperienced or who only possess a Class A driver’s license. According to a U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics study, drivers with a HazMat or tanker endorsement can gain up to $10,000 more than a driver who only possesses a CDL-A. Furthermore, drivers must take into consideration the desirability of their skills when they are more specialized carriers. Drivers who have the ability to transport specialty loads will likely see more opportunities and loads coming their way than those who have the basic driving skills under their belt. This translates to more competitive markets for a driver to choose from and may give them an edge in negotiating the payment for their skills.

In addition to possessing certain endorsements, a driver’s income may vary depending on what type of driver they are. In certain categories of trucking, drivers can see a vast difference in the c.p.m. or hourly wages offered. According to Wikipedia, some of the highest paying jobs in the trucking industry are those that are considered to be Over-The-Road jobs, that require drivers to be out for elongated periods of time or that ask truckers to be deal with some sort of risk or “hassle.” Generally speaking, the greater the trouble that a driver may go through, the better the pay they can expect.

In the realm of OTR driving jobs, dedicated routes are generally those that pay very well. In these routes, drivers work with a dedicated account (a major retailer, perhaps) and deliver among the same roads. Drivers can generally expect to anticipate their hours and pay with this position and are called upon to maintain some level of account-managing, or otherwise cultivating excellent rapport with their client as they will be consistently delivering to them.

Male Driver

Drivers looking for a position that is challenging with great pay can also look into less-than-truckload (LTL) jobs. Drivers can usually expect to make greater profits with these runs due to the fact that they are being paid more by a client to make a specialized, more individualistic load. LTL loads are, for the most part, routes that run regionally or locally, so drivers have the ability to estimate their runs and miles due to the fact that they are working along a specified and otherwise dedicated track.

While many companies are happy to take on student drivers or drivers who are lacking some time on the road, trucking companies are also looking for drivers who have had some verifiable and valuable experience. Companies often understand that a driver who has some expertise in the cab and who can accurately read and react to situations on the road may be a better asset to the company than a driver who is new to the industry. There are certainly less liability issues at hand with drivers who have experience, but generally companies look to hire drivers who will be efficient, safe, and serve the company well on the road – this kind of know-how comes with having done the job for years.

As drivers know, some carriers and lines have a better reputation than others when it comes to pay and benefits offered to those behind the wheel. Swift Transportation has been consistently looked to as one of the best in its field for miles offered, pay and benefits offered, as well as truckers who are satisfied with their positions behind the wheel. Supporting drivers with experience as well as newcomers, Swift has made a point to be recognized among transportation professionals as a fleet that gives its drivers unparalleled fulfillment. There are currently positions open for drivers to excel in a career that is actively growing and becoming more beneficial to those who choose it as an occupation. In a job market oversaturated with jobs that are stagnant, truck drivers are finding careers that are constantly moving along.


Check Out This Infographic About Truck Drivers

Infographic about Trucking

James Dubin Jr.
James Dubin Jr.
The income section is grossly inaccurate unless you drive for one of the ATAs stakeholders. AKA super carriers. The ATA is a conglomerate of totalitarian oligarchs whom are steadfast in dominating the industry. CDL drivers, fire your carrier if they are an ATA stakeholder. They need you not you need them. When selecting your new carrier decline offers from other ATA affiliated companies. If they have a recruiter, drivers are paying for that as well. Look on Craigslist for real numbers. Stay away from print and radio ads as drivers pay for those as well. Veterans be aware of this slime as well.
Michael Gravatte
Michael Gravatte
What a joke drivers are all under PAID by tens of thousands per year .... the only way to level the playing field
Charlie Snyder
Charlie Snyder
The playing field isn't so level with all those union carriers that when out of business, now, is it?
Michael Gravatte
Michael Gravatte
So what you're saying is just let all these carriers get rich off the Blood Sweat and Tears of underpaid drivers .... there's no way in hell that you can say the drivers are paid a fair wage for the hours and the work that they do !!!
James R Maxwell
James R Maxwell
Road gypsies will never unionize. They love working for free while bitching about paying union dues, yet they give up thousands in unpaid time at docks, under paid for loading/unloading and everything else they do for free. Layover/break down pay that won't even cover your meals.
Michael Gravatte
Michael Gravatte
Couldn't have said it better myself ... Organization is the only way to fix the problems in this industry!!! Pete W Artcliff Frank Walker
Mike Baronsky
Mike Baronsky
I will agree to a point that unions do help. However, It does get to a point that unions have taken it to far! I have worked for the teamsters and the maritime unions so I can speak with an understanding of the Union. Unions going to far. Look at the car industry in Detroit! There has to be a balance between profit and wages.
John Tillery
John Tillery
If you don't earn 60k per year you're doing it wrong
Gary McCollum
Gary McCollum
Yep were definitely underpaid
Larry L. Doub
Larry L. Doub
Lets not forget the trains
Michael Gravatte
Michael Gravatte

Charlie Snyder
Charlie Snyder
They've also been the main cause of companies closing.
Michael Gravatte
Michael Gravatte
Not at all over-regulation has caused the majority of them you can thank the EPA for most if not at all of it !!!!!!!!!!!
James R Maxwell
James R Maxwell
Charlie Snyder but if everyone unionized they would actually have to RAISE the rates to where they should be and pay you what you're worth. Instead it's a constant race to the bottom on your back. Companies love giving away your time because it's FREE.
Charlie Snyder
Charlie Snyder
I understand what you guys are saying, but I've worked for many years for a non union carrier and made about $1.25/hr less than our union competition and stil had full medical, dental, vision plans along with 5 weeks paid vacation. Personally, I won't sacrifice working in a hostile environment where management and drivers hate each other all for $1.25.
Frank Banning
Frank Banning
I didn get anything for sitting hours & hours waiting to load produce or the hours & hours waiting to get unloaded & some times days to get unloaded. And I have to pay them to unload their produce that they ordered. Ask anyone about it that pulls a Reefer to the markets 😡. This is all pretty much a lie put out to get you to drive for them.
James R Maxwell
James R Maxwell
Don't leave out the stupidity in the pallet exchange game.
Jeremy Winslow
Jeremy Winslow
lol that's defiantly a liberal based article... saying anything positive about Swift proves it was not done by anyone with real knowledge of the industry
Danny VanHook
Danny VanHook
I agree with all those statements above except the last one . No way 25% of towns don't rely on trucks . Everything you spend money on a truck brought it ! And I'm referring to the "did you know" section .
James R Maxwell
James R Maxwell
You're right! Trains don't deliver to your Wal Mart or local grocery store, restaurants, gas stations....... Do I need to continue?
Rex Park
Rex Park
What they don't say is that when us old bastards are done with that life, some of us don't want anything more to do with it even though we still observe and comment on all the newbies coming along.
Mario Douglas
Mario Douglas
Swift must have paid off writer for putting that in the article..crap company
Merle Niehaus
Merle Niehaus
And the same shitty pay that hasn't changed since 1991!!!!!
Daniel Kettlewell
Daniel Kettlewell
Then you really need to review who you are working for and how you are working. I'm making more now than I ever have in the 20 years I been driving......our rates keep increasing big time
Merle Niehaus
Merle Niehaus
I did,, I'm self employed,,,,made 40 cpm in 1991,,,,now read the add again,,,,,27 to 40,,,,what a joke
Chuck Brant
Chuck Brant
1991???? Try the early 1980's.
James R Maxwell
James R Maxwell
Daniel Kettlewell Scott ^^^^^^ Lmao! Rates keep increasing big time don't you know.
James Mazrolle
James Mazrolle
only find one that don't damage large size pieces. If they do stand up to their damage!
Greg Motrenec
Greg Motrenec
Underpaid over worked drivers. Article is BS!
Chuck Brant
Chuck Brant
AND DID YOU ALSO KNOW THAT THE AMERICAN TRUCKER IS BEING RIPPED OFF BY CHEAP FREIGHT, LUMPER SERVICES AND FUEL PRICES. TODAYS RATES ARE THE SAME AS THE RATES WERE 20 SOME PLUS AGO..
Charlie Snyder
Charlie Snyder
I wish companies can all get together to raise rates at the same time.
Chuck Brant
Chuck Brant
Charlie Snyder to many cut throat companies out here.
James Dubin Jr.
James Dubin Jr.
ATA info graphic pertaining to foreign labor. Sad to see your peddling propaganda for the Bill Graves/Government Complex.
Chris Currie
Chris Currie
Swift commercial rite?
Al Reigert
Al Reigert
Hog wash
Charlie Snyder
Charlie Snyder
Wow! That's $2,750,000,000 in heavy highway taxes.
Bonnie Grant Hinton
Bonnie Grant Hinton
I can drive a rig
James R Maxwell
James R Maxwell
And.......
Bonnie Grant Hinton
Bonnie Grant Hinton
Just yeah me
Mike Baronsky
Mike Baronsky
With these numbers do you realize the strength we have!
Scott Dunham
Scott Dunham
They forgot about the Did You Know , a truck might pull in a staggering 5% profit annually. Good greif
Stephanie D. R. Morgan
Stephanie D. R. Morgan
Peter Lakin
Michael Gravatte
Michael Gravatte
Pete W Artcliff
Janie Biggs Spears
Janie Biggs Spears
Joe Willis, please re-post your feelings on respect of our president. I have lost it. I would like to send it to everybody I talk to.
Mark Burkholder Gayle Grindle
Mark Burkholder Gayle Grindle
And the. Ships. And. Ship yards.