You Guide to Truck Driver Salary

truck driver salary

Did you know that the truck driver salary is one of the best in the country for professions not requiring a college degree? Yep, it might strike some people as hard to believe but it is a fact. You should also know that truck driver’s pay is growing to help meet the demand that is caused by a shortage of qualified drivers today.

In this guide on truck driver salary, we will be looking only at the money side of the job. You will get some incredibly powerful information on what trucker’s make, a state by state breakdown and even some ways you may be able to get even higher pay. We will also give you some ideas on the various benefits you may be able to enjoy that goes even beyond the truck driver salary.

Just so you know, the information presented on this page comes from industry experts, drivers and government sources such as the U.S. Department of Labor. You are getting the best info available today on truck driver salary and compensation for the hard work they do. We will also give you some pointers on how you can possibly improve your pay too.

If you have any questions or comments on truck driver salary, please email us. Our job is to make this website the best on the internet and we can’t do that without feedback from you.

What You Need to Know About Truck Driver Salary

When we mentioned earlier that the truck driver salary was pretty darned good, we were not kidding around or trying to hype things up. You can make a great living as a trucker. Now with that said, you have to know a couple of things first so you don’t get too carried away.

Unlike a lot of professions, the truck driver salary is based on by the mile not an hourly wage or cents-per-mile (CPM). However, there are those in the trucking industry that want to change this system since the current federal regulations cap the number of hours a driver can drive each day. This means that during a 21-hour span you can only drive for 11 hours or be on duty for 14 hours. Below is a chart showing the current regulations.

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
Hours-of-Service Rules
Property Carrying Passenger Carrying
11-hour driving limit
after 10 consecutive
hours off-duty
10-hour driving limit
after 8 consecutive
hours off-duty
14-hour work day
after 10 consecutive
hours off-duty
15 hour work day
after 8 consecutive
hours off-duty
60/70-hours on-duty
in 7/8 consecutive days
after taking 34 or more
hours off including two
periods from 1 a.m to 5 a.m
at home terminal time
60/70 hours on duty in
7/8 consecutive days
If driver is using a sleeper
berth, driver must use it for
8 consecutive hours, plus
2 consecutive separate hours
in sleeper berth, off-duty or
combination of the two
If driver is using a
sleeper berth, driver
must use it for 8 hours
and may split time in
to two periods no less
than 2 hours
Drivers may only drive for 8
hours or less since last off-duty
or sleeper berth period must take
a 30-minute break. Break may
include “in attendance” time if
no other duties are performed.
(does not apply for drivers
under the short-haul
exceptions in 395.1(e))
Regulations courtesy of
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)

What Does the Median Truck Driver Salary Look Like?

When you start looking at what career you want to have, one of the first questions that will pop in your mind is the pay. There is a good reason for that. Even though we all want a job that we love, you still have to pay for things like housing, food, etc… The good news for those of us thinking about a truck driving career is that the truck driver salary is fairly good.

Your first year salary after truck driving school most likely will not be on pace with the median salary we are going to discuss later. This isn’t uncommon in the working world as usually entry level positions do make less than those with more experience. But don’t let that worry you, since you should see your truck driver salary increase every year.

The latest Occupational Outlook Handbook released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has the median truck driver salary at $38,200 a year. The lowest 10% made less than $25,110 while the top 10% made over $58,910. Take in to account that this number reflects all those classified as truck drivers including part-time drivers and may not accurately reflect your potential wages.

Pay Factors?Any Benefits?Can I Make More?Highest Paying?Job Types?

What Are Some Factors in Truck Driving Pay?

As probably already guessed, there are a number of factors that can affect the truck driver salary. Let’s look at some these factors to help you gauge what you may have in store for your career.

  • Location: It should not be a surprise that where you live can play a role in how much money you can get
  • Experience: What is the old adage, which experience comes higher paychecks? Something like that, anyway the more experience behind the wheel should allow you to see higher pay
  • Bonuses: Some companies offer bonuses for getting your load to the destination on time or for driving on holidays, to name a few
  • Signing Bonuses: It is possible to get a signing bonus from a new company when come onboard
  • Type of Cargo: Transporting hazardous or flammable cargo can mean a bump in pay
  • Employer: With the current demand for qualified drivers it only makes sense that some companies are going to pay more to get the best for their fleet
  • Distance: Since most companies by the mile, it only makes sense that you will make more by driving farther say for example long-haul trips
  • Hourly Wage: Those that get their truck driver salary by the hour work in short-haul meaning that they stay relatively closer to home and usually can sleep at home each night
  • Type of Industry: Much like the type of cargo factor, different industries such as food service, consumer packaged goods or freight forwarding pay differently
  • Self-employment: Commonly known as independent owner-operators, you have find, negotiate and possibly drive your shipment but you have to pay for licenses, taxes and maintenance
  • Owner-Operators: Unlike independent owner-operators, these drivers own their own trucks and lease them the company they work for
  • Delivery Type: Similar to the type of industry, this is more of a larger scope of the type of industry such as commercial, jobsite, sales, etc…
  • Training: Sometimes one of the factors could be the type of training that the driver received
  • Certification and Advanced Training: The more training and certifications you can get, within reason, can also affect the truck driver salary

What Kind Of Benefits Are Available for Truck Drivers?

We recently got a question from a person in Lima, Ohio who asked us if truckers get any benefits beyond the reasonable trucker driver salary they can receive. Since there is a great demand for qualified drivers today, you may be amazed on the types of benefit packages available. Some of the benefits you may be able to get as part of your contract with a truck company may include:

  • Layover Pay
  • Daily Per Diem
  • Referral Bonuses
  • 401K
  • Health, Dental and Vision Insurance (including dependents)
  • Wellness Programs
  • Pharmacy Cards and Discounts
  • Worker’s Compensation Coverage
  • Dependent Care Accounts
  • Direct Deposit
  • Life Insurance
  • Accident Insurance
  • Retention Bonuses
  • Paid Vacations
  • Tuition Reimbursement Programs
  • Discount Programs
  • Profit Sharing
  • Employee Assistance
  • Emergency Down-Time Pay
  • Satellite Communications
  • Stock Options
  • Disability Programs
  • Bereavement Leave
  • Dedicated Routes
  • Dead Head Pay
Benefit packages vary from company to company, so you may have to shop around to find the best one.

Are There Ways to Get Higher Pay for Truck Driving?

Right now, the trucking industry is undergoing some drastic changes as companies are trying to lure drivers to their fleet. Not only do we see increased benefit packages but also, and probably more important to most of us, a higher truck driver salary. This is an exciting and profitable time to be a truck driver.

There are some ways that you improve your truck driver salary. Some of the most common include:

  • Negotiating for a better paying route
  • Enlisting with a company offering higher pay
  • Becoming a long-haul driver (if you are not one already)
  • Working in specialty niches like oversized loads
  • Earning CDL endorsements such as Hazmat, Tanker, etc…
  • Build a reliable reputation
  • Keeping your record clean of moving violations
  • Moving to a state with higher pay
  • Always try to be available for routes or subbing for another driver
  • Become an owner/operator
  • Try to earn bonuses like safety or performance
  • Become more fuel efficient
  • Keep up with latest trends so that you can be the first in
  • If you sign on with a new company, negotiate for a better signing bonus
  • If you stay on with the company you are currently with, negotiate for a higher retention bonus
  • Switch the type of industry you currently transport for
  • Negotiate for bonus pay for the percentage of cargo you deliver
  • More distance means more dollars
  • Become a trainer
  • Get an EZ Pass for toll lanes
  • Don’t stop to sight see on your trips, just drive
  • Forget customizing your truck, bling won’t bring more money
There may be other ways to increase your truck driver salary that you know of. If so, email us so we can add it to the list.

What Are the Highest Paying Truck Driving Salaries?

As you have probably guessed, there are some areas in the trucking industry that pays more than others. Here are some of the highest paying truck driver salary jobs around.

  • Ice Road Truckers (just like the tv show)
  • Oversized Load Drivers
  • Hazmat Haulers
  • Dump Trucker Drivers for Coal Mines
  • Wal*Mart (really)
  • Over the Road (OTR) Drivers
  • Unionized Drivers
  • Tanker Drivers
  • Oil Field Trucker Drivers

What Are Some of the Different Types of Truck Driving Jobs?

Below you will find a list of some of the main types of truck driving jobs listed in order by potential average salary.

  • Less than Truckload (LTL)
  • Regional Drivers
  • Flat Bed
  • Automotive/Car Haulers
  • Tanker Drivers (tanker yankers)
  • Local Drivers
  • Household Goods Haulers (bedbuggers)
  • Dry Bulk Pneumatic (flow boys)
  • Interstate drivers (OTR or long-haul)
  • Team Drivers
  • Reefer Drivers (refrigerated trucks)
  • Dry Van Drivers
  • Vocational Drivers (dump trucks, garbage trucks, cement mixers, etc…)
  • Boat Haulers
  • Bullrack Truckers (livestock haulers)
  • Drayage Drivers (cargo container haulers)

Truck Driver Salary by State

It was previously mentioned that one of the factors that can determine the truck driver salary is the state or location where a person lives. Not only in terms of cost of living but also regional need for drivers. Here is a breakdown of the median truck driver salary by state per year.

State Yearly
Median
Wages
State Yearly
Median
Wages
State Yearly
Median
Wages
State Yearly
Median
Wages
Alabama $35,300 Alaska $52,800 Arizona $39,700 Arkansas $33,700
California $40,500 Colorado $42,100 Connecticut $43,200 Delaware $41,500
D.C. $45,900 Florida $34,400 Georgia $39,200 Hawaii $42,500
Idaho $35,500 Illinois $42,300 Indiana $38,500 Iowa $40,000
Kansas $37,800 Kentucky $36,400 Louisiana $36,800 Maine $34,500
Maryland $40,700 Massachusetts $45,000 Michigan $37,500 Minnesota 40,300
Mississippi $35,900 Missouri $38,600 Montana $39,400 Nebraska $40,400
Nevada $43,700 New Hampshire $37,000 New Jersey $43,900 New Mexico $37,800
New York $42,200 North Carolina $37,500 North Dakota $45,400 Ohio $37,700
Oklahoma $36,500 Oregon $37,600 Pennsylvania $40,800 Rhode Island $41,500
South Carolina $36,700 South Dakota $35,000 Tennessee $38,100 Texas $36,600
Utah $41,400 Vermont $37,300 Virginia $36,600 Washington $41,400
West Virginia $33,000 Wisconsin $39,100 Wyoming $44,200 All States $38,700
Information Courtesy of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Do You Have Any Questions About Truck Driver Salary?

As you can see, a truck driver salary has both high potential but possibly limited depending on what type of industry you work in. The current federal regulations on hours can be a bit of a drag but you can still make some danged good coin. Especially now as the shortage of drivers means more money being passed out.

So did we answer all of your questions about a truck driver salary? Do you have others that we haven’t covered? If you do, just drop us an email with the subject heading of “Truck Driver Salary”.

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