Truck Driver Pay: Do Truck Drivers Make Much Money?
Truck Driver Pay: Do Truck Drivers Make Much Money?

Truck Driver Pay: Do Truck Drivers Make Much Money?

4/5 - (19 votes)

Today, we will answer a question that many aspiring truck drivers want to know about truck driver pay and salary.

Do truck drivers make a lot of money?

The average salary of a company driver in the United States, according to ZipRecruiter, is $50,909 per year. However, this number varies based on many factors, including:

  • Driver type – Company drivers (dedicated, regional, over-the-road (OTR, and team), owner-operator truck driver, student truck driver,
  • Freight type – Specifically, endorsements and certifications,
  • Location,
  • Years of experience, and
  • Incentives, bonuses, and hiring bonuses.

The average pay for a trucking job in the United States generally ranges from $21,500 to $82,000.

Factors that impact average truck driver pay
Copyright: belchonock

Factors that Affect Professional Truck Drivers Pay

As we noted above, several factors directly impact how much money a professional truck driver makes.

Let’s discuss them in detail.

Truck drivers make cents per mile
Copyright: vitpho

Trucking Jobs Base Pay – Cents Per Mile

Company driver pay is unique because drivers are not usually paid an hourly wage. Instead, compensation is based on cents per mile (CPM). But, what are cents per mile?

What are cents per mile?

Cents per mile is what it sounds like.

Professional truck drivers are paid a certain amount of cents per mile that they drive. So, for example, if a trucker drives 2,000-3,000 miles per week and is paid $0.50 per mile, they make $1,000-$1,500 per week.

Cents per mile is the most common pay scale in the trucking industry because it encourages truck drivers to drive as much as they can (because they are getting paid for every mile they drive) while still resulting in a take-home good wage.

Why are truck drivers paid cents per mile?

According to TruckerTruth.com, cents per mile became common in the trucking industry during the Great Depression when truck drivers were driving 24 hours or more to haul as much food as they could across the country.

Because they were working around the clock, truck drivers saw minimum wage as a cap on wages. So, instead, truck drivers earned pay per mile.

President FDR wasn’t opposed to this because people across the country were starving and needed food, so he wanted the trucks to run as much as possible. Thus, he gave truck drivers an exception to the Fair Labor Standards Act (the minimum wage law).

And, ever since 1938, cents per mile has been the standard pay scale in the trucking industry.

However, hourly pay rates and salaries are another common way to describe pay.

What are the average cents per mile for truck drivers?

For company drivers, the cents per mile rate depends on the size of the company you work for.

Small trucking companies usually dish out around $0.35-0.50 cents per mile, while larger companies range between $0.23-0.60 cents per mile.

Now that we’ve talked about what cents per mile is and where it came from. Let’s talk about the different rates for cents per mile based on driver type.

Dedicated driver hourly and salary pay

According to ZipRecruiter.com, the average starting salary for dedicated truck drivers is $62,253 per year or roughly $30/per hour.

The lowest truck driver salary for a dedicated driver is $31,500, while the highest salary is $81,000.

Currently, the highest paying truck driving jobs with dedicated routes are in San Francisco, California.

Dedicated trucker salary

Regional hourly and salary pay

According to ZipRecruiter.com, the average starting salary for regional drivers is $60,939 per year or roughly $29/per hour.

The lowest truck driver salary for a regional driver is $33,500, while the highest is $83,000.

Currently, the highest paying jobs with regional routes are in New York City, NY.

Regional trucker salary

OTR hourly and salary pay

According to ZipRecruiter.com, the national truck driver salary for OTR drivers is $63,888 per year or roughly $31/per hour.

The lowest truck driver salary for an OTR driver is $34,000, while the highest salary is $94,500.

Currently, the highest paying jobs with OTR routes are in Sunnyvale, CA.

OTR salary for truck drivers

Team hourly and salary pay

According to ZipRecruiter.com, the national average salary for team drivers is $80,674 per year or roughly $39/per hour.

The lowest salary for a team driver is $60,500, while the highest salary is $110,000.

The highest paying team driver jobs are in Richmond, CA.

Team driving salaries

Owner-operator hourly and salary pay

According to ZipRecruiter.com, the national average salary for owner-operator jobs is $199,616 per year or roughly $96/per hour.

An owner-operator’s lowest truck driver salary is $41,500, while the highest salary is $382,500.

Currently, the highest paying jobs for owner-operators are in New York City, NY.

Owner operator driver pay

Freight Type & Driver Pay

What is freight type?

The next factor that directly affects pay for truck drivers is the type of freight they haul.

Freight type and pay
©marina113/123RF.COM

Freight type is the type of goods transported or hauled in the truck. The most common types of freight are:

  • Car hauler
  • Dry bulk
  • Dry van
  • Flatbed
  • Intermodal
  • Overdimensional
  • Reefer, and
  • Tanker.

Freight type affects driver pay because it is directly correlated with the experience level and skill set required to perform the job successfully.

Endorsements

Next up on our list of factors that affect pay include endorsements.

Endorsements and pay

What is an endorsement?

According to FMCSA, a commercial driver’s license endorsement in the trucking industry is obtained when a driver passes specific tests to operate certain commercial motor vehicles.

Here is a list of the different endorsement types available:

  • Double/Triple Trailers
  • Passenger
  • Tank vehicle
  • Hazardous materials
  • Combination of tank vehicle and hazardous materials
  • And, school bus

While passenger and school bus endorsements don’t factor into truck driving, the other endorsement types are all things that a truck driver can get added to their license that will help to increase pay.

Let’s discuss this in more detail.

Double/Triple Trailers

The first endorsement we will discuss is the double/triple trailer endorsement.

A double/triple truck endorsement is, as it sounds, it’s a single truck engine pulling two or three trailers at once.

One of the essential aspects of earning a double/triple endorsement is the state regulations surrounding this endorsement type.

For example, length and weight limits may vary by state, and many restrictions limit double/triple trailers to highways or turnpikes.

How much do double/triple trailer endorsements drivers make?

According to ZipRecruiter.com, the national average salary for double/triple drivers is $58,856 per year or roughly $28/per hour.

The lowest truck driver salary for a double/triple driver is $22,000, while the highest salary is $82,500.

Currently, the highest paying jobs for double/triple drivers are in San Mateo, CA.

Double/Triple pay

Tank Truck Driver

Next up on our endorsement list is a tanker truck driver.

A tanker truck driver delivers liquids in bulk, such as water or sand, in a tank trailer. The process of loading and unloading the tanker trailer involves pumps and hoses.

Driving this truck requires an endorsement because of the different processes needed for loading and unloading the truck.

How much do tanker truck drivers make?

According to ZipRecruiter.com, the national average salary for tanker drivers is $53,687 per year or roughly $26/per hour.

The lowest truck driver salary for a tanker driver is $31,000, while the highest salary is $86,000.

Currently, the highest paying tanker jobs are in San Mateo, CA.

Tanker driver pay
Hazmat Truck Driver

Just like it sounds, hazmat truck drivers haul hazardous materials such as dangerous or toxic liquids.

Because of the dangerous aspects of these materials, truck drivers with this endorsement must adhere to strict processes and procedures to ensure safe transport of the materials and for the health and safety of the public.

How much do hazmat truck drivers make?

According to ZipRecruiter.com, the national average salary for hazmat drivers is 54,731 per year or roughly $26/per hour.

The lowest truck driver salary for a hazmat is $36,000, while the highest salary is $118,500.

Currently, the highest paying jobs for hazmat drivers are in San Mateo, CA.

Hazmat driver pay
Hazmat/Tanker Combination

Last up on our list of trucking endorsements is the hazmat/tanker combination endorsement.

Hazmat/tanker combination endorsements allow a truck driver to transport hazardous materials in a tanker truck.

Similar to the hazmat endorsement, because of the safety of the public and the products involved, only truck drivers with this endorsement can transport hazardous materials in a tanker.

How much do hazmat/tanker combination drivers make?

According to ZipRecruiter.com, the national average salary for a hazmat/tanker combination is $57,530 per year or roughly $28/per hour.

The lowest truck driver salary for a hazmat/tanker combination is $32,000, while the highest salary is $81,500.

Currently, the highest paying jobs for hazmat/tanker combination drivers are in San Francisco, CA.

Location

Another factor that can directly impact the amount of money a truck driver makes is their location.

Simply put, like all jobs, salaries for truck drivers vary significantly by state and city.

According to TruckDriverSalary.com, here are the top 11 states that pay the highest salaries.

  1. North Dakota
  2. Alaska
  3. Massachusetts
  4. Nevada
  5. District of Columbia
  6. Wyoming
  7. New York
  8. New Jersey
  9. Connecticut
  10. Colorado
  11. Illinois

So, for those truck drivers looking to make the most money out of their CDL training, it might be advantageous to live or work for a trucking company in any of those states.

Trucker pay by location
Copyright: vitpho

Truck Driving Experience: New Drivers vs. Seasoned Driver

The next factor that directly affects truck driving pay is experience.

In general, and similar to most industries, experienced truck drivers tend to make more money than new truck drivers that are just starting.

However, once you get some experience under your belt, you’ll have the negotiating power to demand a higher truck driver pay.

So, while being an inexperienced truck driver can be challenging, know that truck driver demand is high and that getting a few years of experience in the industry is all you need to take your job to the next level and advance your career.

Below is a chart provided by, BigRigPros.com that does a great job of showcasing a truck driver’s experience level comparative to pay.

Trucker experience and pay

Incentives, Bonuses, and Hiring Bonuses

Last on our list of factors that directly impact truck driver pay are incentives, bonuses, and hiring bonuses.

If you’re starting as a truck driver or a long-time veteran, you have probably noticed that many trucking companies offer incentives, bonuses, and hiring bonuses to not only attract truck drivers but keep them.

Because truck drivers are in high demand, small companies and large companies are willing to provide truck drivers with these types of incentives and bonuses to set their company apart from others and encourage truck drivers to work for them.

However, keep in mind that while incentives, bonuses, and hiring bonuses greatly benefit a trucking job, there may be contingencies attached to them.

Read the fine print and make sure you understand when and how you will receive the incentives, bonuses, or hiring bonuses and that the trade-off is something you’re willing to do.

Don’t get distracted by the shiny dollar signs!

Lastly, performance bonuses are another way to earn more money in this industry. Whether the bonus is for safety or miles traveled. These bonuses are another type of bonus you can expect in this industry.

Trucking bonuses and pay
Copyright: andreypopov

Where Does This Leave You?

So, what’s the takeaway? How much do truck drivers make?

As you can see, the answer isn’t straightforward since it varies significantly by the factors outlined above.

And, while a truck driver can make a lot of money (say a 6-figure salary), it’s not that common because the jobs with higher pay often come with a significant amount of risk and danger which can be a turn-off for many truck drivers.

But that doesn’t mean truck driving isn’t an honest job with the ability to make good money. In the end, the best way to make the most money is to advance your skillset and put in your time.

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 below!

Author: Hit The Road Jack

Share This Post On

45 Comments

  1. Drivers in warzones are typically not taxed on their income. So that 100k is more like $140k plus you have very little expenses living in the warzones. Hauling Hazardous waste in the U.S. can offer $85 to 110k jobs. But there’s a lot of training involved.

    Post a Reply
    • How would one apply for the job to truck drive in war zones

      Post a Reply
    • What type of training??

      Post a Reply
    • I’ve been driving for 33 years and have made over 100,000 for the past 12 years its not hard but you need to work for a private fleet ie Air Liquide, Praix Air, Air Products, Dow Chemical, there are several private fleets looking for drivers and they pay well. I am working for a chemical company now we only have 7 drivers but pay $32 per hour 60 to 70 hours a week. not much off time but great pay

      Post a Reply
      • How and where do you apply?

        Post a Reply
    • Thats misleading. You still have to pay taxes if you’re working for a US Company. Foreign Earned Income only applies to Foreign companies. DynCorp International (A US Private Contracting Firm based in Texas) got into big trouble when they created the DIFZ (DynCorp Internation Free Zone) in Dubai and reported that they were now a foreign company; didn’t work though. They had to pay back over $1B in taxes because the money paid to them was US Taxpayer money. So- get a tax advisor. I was a contractor for 3 years and made $183k a year, but my take home was about $120k AFTER taxes that I had to pay uncle same. Many chose not to file at all.. and that’s a risk some take.

      Post a Reply
  2. This confuses me my uncle drives and earns 15,000 a month for he does all year and we’ll that’s well above 140k

    Post a Reply
    • That confusses me, what does he do for that kind of money? I drove more than 24 years never made near that kind of money. Is he hauling extreme heavy or something like that?

      Post a Reply
    • what does he carry what company give us some detail

      Post a Reply
    • really,, what type of truck he drives and in which company

      Post a Reply
  3. I drove for two years before landing a job with a big box retailer. I’ve made 100k the last 5 years. Keep your record clean, those jobs are out there.

    Post a Reply
  4. @MARK 15,000 per Month ? What Exactly Does Your Uncle Do

    Post a Reply
    • Drives for the Escobar drug cartel.

      Post a Reply
    • He’s probably a owner operator to make $15K a month

      Post a Reply
  5. My husband started leasing from xpo logistic when he first started out which brought home 65,000 a year . Then when he owned his truck we put everything in storage . So we had no rent to pay , no car payment , no other bills besides our phone , and taking care of the truck . We haul in the southern states and now bring home 145 a year .

    Post a Reply
    • How much where u guys paying for truck note insurance I’m much is the truck in all for lease an how Mony years did it take to pay off the truck

      Post a Reply
  6. I hope to meet a serious trucker ready for a serious relationship
    Am sandy
    5514446864

    Post a Reply
    • Sandy- gold digging huh? Lol

      Post a Reply
      • HaHa I guess, Digging in the sandy beaches didn’t work out. Next step OTR long haul trucker checks. 😂😆🤗😎🙏

        Post a Reply
  7. Depending on the freight company you can make good money working as a dock worker. I make $22/hr and put in about 43 hours a week. My pay hovers between $900-$950 a week.

    Post a Reply
  8. $22 an hour is sh!t pay. May have been good in 1985, but its 2017…going into 2018. 52 weeks in a year $900-950 isnt even 50k dummy. The topic is 6 figures..100k or above. Not humping labor 85-90 hrs a week to make 100k.

    Post a Reply
  9. Yes, of course, the salary of truck drivers depends on where they are working, how much experience they have, and which company they are hauling for. There are few portals like yourmilesapp.com where you can earn up to $40- $50 per hour by driving a truck.

    Post a Reply
  10. Ltl is where good money is made in trucking.you need to stick with it to be able to have a good paying run miles is what makes money. I have made six figure for 9years been with same company for 28 years

    Post a Reply
  11. I’ve been a truck driver for 8 month and make $10k per month

    Post a Reply
    • Which company are you with ?

      Post a Reply
  12. They are not paying enough. Owner operators were making 100k over 30 years ago. Looks to me that the industry micromanaged the truckers to the point that the job simply does not attract at the offered compensation. I would drive a truck and be very dedicated as I am about everything i commit to. However, I require 200k take home for that job, no exceptions. I think this is more folly anyway. This older blog seems to indicate I am right. https://www.indeed.com/forum/job/truck-driver/have-cdl-license-class-but-no-experience/t316252

    Post a Reply
  13. I got hired by an LTL company as a team driver right out of school, my first year i made $94,000. I was at the bottom pay scale and made 94k. LTL is the way to go to make good money.

    Post a Reply
  14. Why doesn’t anyone that says they make all this money have a flat answer when asked where or what and so on come on people are we still in high school stop bragging in the dark and be helpful or shut up some of us are just looking for a way to to take care of a family

    Post a Reply
  15. Please, name the company and how much you make..gross, then net.

    Vague generalities does no good for anyone.

    Post a Reply
    • This info is out of date. I work at old dominion freight. As a line driver I’m home daily. And make about 120k a yr

      Post a Reply
      • Well that’s awesome! How long have you been a truck driver?

        Post a Reply
    • Meyer logistics: first year.. gross 3700 every two weeks. Net 2800.

      Post a Reply
  16. I work for Fed Ex Freight. I drive a set route that is 520 miles round trip. I’m home in my bed every night and I bring home 100K a year.

    Post a Reply
  17. Plenty of trucking jobs that pay 100k plus in North Dakota if you are willing to deal with the harsh winters and the hazards.

    Post a Reply
  18. Good that you shared such a good article that most of were unaware of. I do agree that the job of a Truck driver is money-making but along this, we should not discard with the fact that they have to sacrifice a lot whether it’s a function to attend, time to family, time to relax. Most of the company wants 24/7 work by day leave it two. If you are ready with it then you can make a lot of money. But guide me ‘What skills are required to grab a job of truck driver in a good company?
    Thanks for your post…

    Post a Reply
  19. I’m investigating taking a Class A CDL course from an accredited school in New Jersey.
    I’d like to do long-haul driving as an independent contractor (without his own rig). Something such as a one-time haul from Long Beach, CA to Newark, NJ.
    Is that kind of work available and, if so, and how much would it pay?
    Thanks all for any insight you may be willing to provide.

    Post a Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published.