How Much Can You Make as a Truck Driver?

Whether you’re a brand new truck driver hoping for your first job, or a seasoned veteran looking to make a change, know what to expect in a salary before you walk into an interview. Although there are several things to consider before accepting a truck driving position, salary is usually near the top of the list.

Here are some of the factors that go into a truck driver’s salary so you can determine where you fit on the pay scale. Of course, the highest paying trucking jobs will require a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL).

Experience and Reputation

Just like many other professions, a truck driver is expected to perform at or above his company’s expectations. A truck driver with experience behind the wheel will usually receive a salary that reflects it.

Drivers who have established reputations for professionalism and reliability are in demand and can demand higher wages. If you’re just starting your career, have patience to build up your standing as a model driver before you can expect to move to the highest pay rates.

What Type of Driving Will You Be Doing?

Solo OTR Driver: Solo over-the-road truck drivers make up a large percentage of drivers. They average $40,000-$45,000 their first year.

Team OTR Driver: Teams drive longer distances because one drives while the other rests. More miles means higher compensation. On average, the two drivers will split between $100,000 and $150,000 per year.

Dedicated Driver: These drivers work for a single company like Lowes or Walmart and travel specified routes for them, delivering only the company’s products or materials. Dedicated drivers average $45,000 to $65,000 annually.

Owner-Operator: You can opt for owning a rig and running your own business. Owner-operators earn a larger rate-per-mile because they eliminate the middleman and deal directly with the company. You need to have enough experience driving for others before you even think about being an owner-operator, but when you have it, you could be bring in over $100,000 per year.

Other Factors

While your experience and the type of driving you’re willing to do are the leading variables that will determine your salary, other factors will come into play:

  • Geographical Location: Alaska and Nevada are the states with the highest pay rates, and Massachusetts, New York, and New Jersey are not far behind.
  • Bonuses and Promotions: As you move along in your career, you will have the opportunity to earn a bonus and get favorable schedules and routes.
  • The Cargo You Transport: If you transport hazardous materials, you will likely earn more. And if you drive for a delivery service, your annual salary could be more than $10,000 higher than the national average.

How do Driving Salaries Compare?

Driver salaries compare favorably with those in other professions. Safe and reliable truck drivers can earn as much as those in careers that require a bachelor’s or master’s degree.

To learn more about a career in trucking, or to start a job search, contact a Contracted Driver Services recruiter today.

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