According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, over 750,000 commercial drivers are on our roadways today. If you have decided that becoming a truck driver is the best option for your career and a lifestyle choice, you will likely be wondering where you can make the most money.
A driver’s salary depends on many factors, such as experience and truck type. In addition to extra features and benefits, some factors can also influence a driver’s salary, like the State in which he operates.
What Factors Affect a Truck Driver’s Salary?
The salary of CDL drivers depends on the factors below, and it is essential to understand these factors before you decide to become a truck driver.
The first factor that affects a truck driver’s salary is where they live. Drivers who work in metropolitan areas tend to make more money than drivers who work in rural areas. It is because cities have higher living costs than rural areas, meaning drivers must make more money to support themselves and their families.
Trucks are also more expensive to maintain in urban areas due to traffic congestion and high parking fees, so companies pay their drivers more to compensate for these extra expenses.
Type of truck
The type of truck driven also impacts the salary of a truck driver. Different types of trucks are designed for various purposes, such as refrigerated trucks, flatbed trucks and tanker trucks. The bigger the vehicle, the higher your salary because these vehicles require more skill when driving them compared to smaller trucks.
As a driver gains experience behind the wheel of their rig, they gain knowledge about how to handle different situations and adapts to changes more quickly than someone with less experience would be able to do so. Driver experience increases employee value and allows them to demand a higher salary than someone with less experience.
The routes that you take can have a significant impact on your salary. If you’re driving in urban areas, it will be more expensive for you to lease or buy a truck and keep it running. Since the cost of living is higher and more regulations are involved with operating a truck in these areas, drivers can demand a higher salary to cover these expenses. However, if you’re driving on rural routes, you can save on some costs because there are fewer regulations or restrictions on driving trucks in rural areas.
A driver working for a large company will have a higher salary than a small company. The reason is that the larger the company, the higher the demand for its services and products. It means that more trucks are operating in its fleet, which leads to higher profits and more money to pay drivers.
How much does a Truck Driver make on average?
According to estimates from Indeed (these data are just estimates and will vary from week to week or month to month), considering the 11-hour driving limit in the United States, the average salary breakdown of a truck driver is as follows:
- $26.79 per hour
- $306 per day
- $1,474 per week
- $5,705 per month
- $80,583 per year
Where Do Truck Drivers Earn More in the US (By States)?
The US is one of the most popular countries for drivers to work in. However, drivers will earn different amounts of money in every State, and there are some states where truck drivers can make more money than others.
According to Seek Capital, a financial services firm that helps companies start or grow their businesses, this data set and chart are geared toward the trucking industry.
The Best States for CDL Drivers
Here are the 10 best states for truck drivers, according to Seek Business Capital’s study:
|The Best States for Truck Driver Salaries|
|Overall Rank||State||Average Annual Truck Driver Wage||Average Per Capita Income for All Occupations (Incl. Non-Trucking Jobs)||How Much More Truck Drivers Make Than the Average Worker|
The Worst States for CDL Drivers
Here are the 10 worst states, plus D.C., for truck driver states:
|The Worst States for Truck Driver Salaries (Plus D.C.)|
|Overall Rank||State (incl. D.C.)||Average Annual Truck Driver Wage||Average Per Capita Income for All Occupations (Incl. Non-Trucking Jobs)||How Much Less Truck Drivers Make Than the Average Worker|
Salary of a CDL Driver by Trailer Type
In addition to the basic CDL license classifications, special endorsements are required to operate specific vehicles or routes.
Trucks requiring Special Endorsement
1. Hazmat Trucks (H Endorsement)
The average salary for a CDL driver with hazmat endorsements is between $68,750 and $100,000 per year, which is significantly higher than the national average of $38,000. If you want to become a professional truck driver and earn more than the national average, consider getting your hazmat endorsement.
2. Doubles/Triples (T Endorsement)
The average salary for a CDL driver with a doubles or triples endorsement ranges from $62,500 to $93,750 annually. Truck drivers with double or triple endorsements can haul two or three trailers simultaneously. It is a popular endorsement for drivers who want to own their own trucking business or work for a large carrier.
3. Tankers (N Endorsement)
The average salary for a tanker truck driver is $75,000 – $106,250 per year.
Tanker truck drivers can earn more than regular CDL drivers because of their training and the special equipment required to drive these large vehicles. Tanker trucks are used to transport liquids such as gasoline and other petroleum products by road or rail.
4. Hazmat and Tanker (X Endorsement)
Most hazmat tanker drivers are paid by the mile, with a pay range of about $0.60 to $0.85 per mile. Doing the math on this means their salary ranges from around $68,750 – $106,250 annually.
Hazmat and tanker drivers must have a special license known as an X endorsement on their CDLs, which allows them to drive tankers that carry hazardous materials. They transport all types of flammable liquids, radioactive materials, poisonous gases and corrosive liquids that can cause severe damage if they leak. Because of the high risks associated with this job, hazmat and tanker drivers need to have extensive training in safety procedures and be able to pass several tests.
Trucks without Special Endorsement
1. Flatbed Truck Driver
A flatbed truck is a specialized commercial vehicle used for transporting freight on its bed. Flatbed drivers are responsible for driving and operating the truck, loading and unloading the cargo, and ensuring the safety of the load. The driver is also responsible for maintaining proper documentation, such as logs and records. The average salary for a flatbed truck driver is $80,000 to $90,000 yearly.
2. Dry Van Driver
The average annual salary for a dry van driver is $60,000. The highest-paid drivers earn more than $80,000 annually, while the lowest-paid make less than $40,000.
3, Refrigerated Truck Driver
A refrigerated truck driver is a person who drives a vehicle that transports food and beverages, such as milk and meat, at low temperatures. These drivers typically work for large companies such as dairy farms or companies that ship perishable goods. A refrigerated truck driver is also called a “reefer” in the trucking industry. The average annual salary for a refrigerated truck driver is $65,000.
4. Oversized Load Truck Driver
An oversized-load truck driver transports heavy-duty equipment cross-country, and their average annual salary is $118,750.
Salary of a Truck Driver by Route Type (Distance)
Truck drivers’ salary is determined by the routes they drive and how much a company is willin to pay for those routes as well as the pay per mile. The routes are categorized into three buckets; OTR (Over the Road), Regional and Local.
1. OTR (Over the Road) Driver Salary
The average salary for an OTR (over-the-road) driver is $70,000. It is not an exact number because many factors influence how much a truck driver makes per year. The number of miles they drive, their experience level and the type of company they work for all play a role in determining how much they make. The more miles they drive, the higher their salary will be.
2. Regional Truck Driver Salary
Regional truck driver salaries vary according to company and route. They may earn between $50,000 and $60,000 per year, depending on experience and route. Drivers with less than one year of experience typically earn the lowest wages.
3. Local Truck Driver Salary
As a local truck driver, you’ll spend most of your time driving within a 50-mile radius of your home terminal. Hence, most local routes involve transporting goods between distribution centers, retail stores, and customers’ homes or businesses. An average local truck driver’s salary is between 50,000 per year.
Salary of a Truck Driver by Operating Mode
1. Solo Truck Driver Salary
The average annual salary of a solo truck driver is $60,000. Solo truck drivers are paid by the mile and the load, and they often work for themselves or small companies where they have to pay for their expenses. When driving long distances, solo truck drivers may also have to deal with unpredictable schedules, irregular hours, and poor weather conditions.
2. Team Truck Driver Salary
Team drivers earn more than solo drivers because they share the cost of the vehicle and fuel with another person. In addition, they may split the cost of their meals while on the road or take turns driving in shifts so that only one person drives at a time. Team drivers earn an average salary of $90,000 annually.
3. Owner-Operator Salary
The average owner operators’ salary is between $120K to $140K per year, and this number can vary greatly depending on how much you drive and whether you own or lease your truck.
4. Lease Operator Salary
A lease operator is a truck driver who leases a truck from a company and runs it as an independent contractor. This type of operator can make more money than other truck drivers because they can choose their freight, set their hours, and pick up extra loads on the side.
A lease operator’s average salary ranges from $90K – $120K.
Salary of a Truck Driver by Experience Level
CDL drivers are the backbone of the trucking industry. They are responsible for transporting goods, whether traveling across the country or within the State.
Many drivers have been working in the industry for years and have built up experience and knowledge that can help them succeed. However, many new drivers are just starting their career paths.
If you’re a new or experienced driver and want to know what salary to expect as a CDL driver, here’s everything you need to know about how much money you can make
Starter CDL Drivers Salary
As a beginner driver, you should expect a wage depending on your experience. Additionally, the average salary for a new CDL (commercial driver’s license) is between $30,000 and $40,000 per year. Your income can increase significantly if you are a veteran truck driver with decades of experience.
Experienced CDL Drivers’ Salary
Salaries for experienced CDL drivers are generally higher than for new drivers because of their extensive training and experience. The average salary for experienced CDL drivers is $90K – $120K per year, depending on their location, routes, and endorsements.
External Factors Affecting CDL Drivers’ Salary
CDL drivers are in high demand and can earn a good living. However, many factors can affect how much these drivers make. Some of these factors include:
Border crossing: Border crossings can affect what CDL drivers earn. If a border crossing is busy, trucks may take longer to get through, which can delay deliveries. This can mean that the driver will have to wait longer at the border, and this can increase their hourly wage.
Traffic: The amount of traffic on the road directly impacts the number of miles a trucker can cover in a day. Traffic congestion can slow the speed at which truckers drive and reduce their daily miles, ultimately affecting their paychecks.
Type of Load: The load a driver carries is an essential factor that can help you determine the salary for a CDL driver. A CDL driver is paid for each load they deliver, which can be per trip, week or month, depending on how the business works. The type of load will determine how much a CDL driver makes. For example, if you are driving a hazardous material truck or an oversized load requiring special permits, you will make more money than if you were delivering regular loads.
Safety checks: One of the main external factors affecting CDL drivers’ salaries is safety checks. Because these checks are conducted to ensure that all drivers are fully qualified and trained. The companies are required to perform these checks to meet the standards set by the government. This is to ensure that they have qualified staff who can drive safely on the road and prevent any accidents from occurring. Also the cost of conducting these safety checks depends on what kind of company you work for.
DOT inspections: The Department of Transportation (DOT) is an agency under the US Federal Government regulating highway access. The DOT conducts annual inspections on all commercial vehicles operating on US highways, including trucks carrying cargo and trailers. The results of inspections will determine whether or not a driver is allowed to operate their vehicle on public roads or highways.
Unloading and loading: Loading and unloading cargo is part of the job description for many truck drivers. This can be challenging when the driver has little experience or training, and it also takes time away from other duties like driving or rest breaks. Some companies will pay their drivers an extra fee for unloading and loading freight, while others don’t offer this benefit. If you work for a company that does not provide these services, you will have to do it yourself or find another way to get paid for this service.
Repairs: Truck drivers often have to pay for repairs on their vehicles themselves because insurance policies do not cover these costs. If you drive an older vehicle that requires frequent repair work, this can affect your salary significantly over time. Insurance companies often offer discounts on newer vehicles to encourage their use to cut down on repair expenses for policyholders.
CDL driver jobs can make a decent income, especially if they’ve been trucking for several years and have amassed a decent-sized portfolio. Your income will largely depend on how many hours you drive each week, but as long as you have that CDL license and experience, it’s worth considering as a potential career path.
The best-paying trucking jobs are found in industries with high demand for goods and services. The highest paying truck driving jobs are tanker drivers.
Yes, you can make good money as a truck driver. The average pay for Class A drivers is about $60,000 per year. However, this can vary greatly depending on where you work and what company you work for. You can also earn bonuses and overtime pay if you’re willing to work extra hours.
Some trucking companies pay their drivers in both ways: a per-mile rate, which is a fixed amount of money per mile driven and an hourly rate.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average wage for a truck driver is $18.16 on an hourly basis.
Yes and No. Some companies may offer to reimburse drivers for CDL training as a part of their compensation package, and some will not. This will vary by company.