The reason you work so hard as a truck driver is to take home that serious scratch, the cheddar, the bones, you know…the dead presidents in our pockets—MONEY. But how much money can you actually make behind the wheel? The answer isn’t always simple. Truck driver pay depends on where you’re working, how much experience you have, and which company you’re hauling for. A lot of us may recall advertisements showcasing the earning potential of $100,000 a year, but is this realistic for truck driver pay? Let’s find out!
What is the Average Annual Income for Truck Driver Pay?
So, when all things are considered, the average salary for truck drivers is $50,909 (as of June 2021.) However, that doesn’t take into account drivers who might not work full-time or compare the differences between independent drivers and company drivers. Therefore, the scale generally ranges from an annual income as low as $21,500 up to $82,000 according to ZipRecruiter.com.
Truck Driver Pay
Truck driver pay is unique because drivers are not usually paid an hourly wage. Instead, compensation is based on cents per mile (CPM). For company drivers, your CPM rate depends on the size of your company. Small companies usually dish out $0.35-$0.50 CPM, while larger companies range between $0.23-$0.60 CPM. If you’re a seasoned driver, you can earn more based on your experience. So, once you get some experience under your belt, you’ll have the negotiating power to demand a higher truck driver pay. The benefits of getting paid by the mile are high for those that have open roads and a lead foot. However, earning by mile might not always pay if there’s certain days where traffic or road conditions are unfavorable.
If you prefer a job with a more consistent stream of income, then consider searching for a salaried position. Salaries offer the stability of a contract, that doesn’t depend on the number of miles you drive or hours you work. Hourly pay is an option, but is less common than CPM and salary work. The perk is being able to anticipate how much pay you’ll bring home based on the number of hours you’re going to work. If you’re being paid hourly expect more stops and lots of loading and unloading.
Check out the average truck driver pay based on the type of job.
- Class A: $49,000
- CDL Driver: $46,000
- Truck Driver Run OTR: $62,000
- OTR CDL Truck Driver: $57,500
- Dump Truck Driver: $39,000
- CDL Truck Driver: $51,500
- Tank Truck Driver: $59,500
- Bulk Truck Driver: $52,000
- Semi-Truck Driver: $49,000
- Tow Truck Driver: $35,000
- Commercial Truck Driver: $50,000
- Route Truck Driver: $37,500
How to Bring Home 6 Figures as a Truck Driver
So, you’ve entered the trucking industry with the intention of earning six figures. But how do you earn the big bucks? Well, typically earning that much in the profession is pretty uncommon. However, it’s not impossible. You just have to be willing to go the extra mile, literally and figuratively.
Someone once told me that there’s two ways to earn a lot of money. First, you can do a job that no one else wants to do. Second, you can do a job that no one else can do. So, in the realm of truck driving, here’s a couple of ways you can up your truck driver pay and earn over $100k annually:
- Ice Road Trucking: Most of us have seen or at least heard of the TV show Ice Road Truckers. If you haven’t, it’s a show that profiles drivers that are brave and skilled enough to drive the icy routes north of the Arctic Circle. It’s made its way onto reality television for a reason…it’s downright dangerous and requires a skilled truck driver who understands the risks they’re taking on before starting. The payoff is large though, up to $250,000!
- Hazmat Endorsement: You can earn extra when transporting hazardous material – anything that is flammable, poisonous, explosive, or otherwise deemed dangerous. Getting certified to transport this type of material will definitely pay off, with salaries ranging from $55,167 to $71,637.
- Tanker endorsement: Getting your tanker endorsement qualifies you to transport trucks that are holding liquid, which will earn you a few extra dollars of pay! Typical truck driver pay for this category averages around $71,461 per year.
- Oversized loads: Transporting oversized loads requires a skilled driver with proper experience. Therefore, this risky and challenging job comes higher compensation, about $55,289 per year.
Where Does This Leave You?
So, what’s the takeaway? Well, although it’s not just a fairytale that there are actually some drivers who can pull in a 6-figure salary, it’s probably not the most common occurrence. The jobs with higher truck driver pay come with a significant amount of risk and danger. But that doesn’t mean truck driving isn’t an honest job with pretty good pay. The easiest way to move up financially in the trucking industry is to put in your time because it pays to be experienced.
What are your thoughts on truck driver pay? How much have you made as a truck driver? We’d love to hear about your experiences and pay in the comments!