If you’re considering a new career in the trucking industry, it would be helpful to know how much money you will make.
Fortunately for you, there is an ongoing shortage of truck drivers, which means there’s a chance for you to make more money in the truck driving industry.
So, how much do truck drivers make on average in 2023? The short answer is around $45,000 to $60,000 per year, but this depends on how much you drive, your experience, and other factors which we’ll cover below.
The best thing about being a professional truck driver is that they can explore the countryside and have a lot of independence. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics records, there were almost 2 million trucking-driving jobs in the US in 2017.
If you are interested in joining the number of truckers that transport goods from coast to coast, the first thing to do is acquire your CDL or Commercial Driver’s License. The average CDL driver makes around $59,926 per year in the US.
What Are The Best Commercial Truck Endorsements and Certifications to Have?
Once you earn the CDL from the state’s motor vehicle agency, you are under supervision. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration sets driver hours, work conditions, and licensing requirements, but they don’t provide you with CDL.
You can only be licensed in one state. But once you have your CDL, you can add further endorsements. The endorsements are codes on your license:
- T—Double and triple trailers
- P—Passenger vehicles
- S—School buses
- N—Tank trucks
- H—Hazardous materials
- X—Tank and hazardous materials
How Much Do Truck Drivers Make Per Mile?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average truck driver’s pay per mile in 2022 is between $0.28 and $0.42. Some trucking businesses can also pay more because of the increasing demand for licensed and class-A truck drivers.
Truck drivers are usually paid through rate per mile they travel. It’s not about the long hours of work. But this rate may also depend on the driver’s experience, the company they’re driving for, and the region or location of where they drive.
Truck drivers are expected to drive an average of 2500 to 3000 miles weekly. When truck drivers get paid by the odometer, the odometer counts the money for them. It is the easiest way to monitor or track the expected truck driver’s salary. These drivers are paid through miles traveled to create more money than those with fixed salaries.
Truck drivers have the opportunity to obtain bonuses in addition to the regular pay they get. Salary for truck drivers may vary by:
- Trucking company
- Type of driving
- Truck driver certifications
- Years of experience
- The materials they haul
The big news is that a truck driver who is new in the business can find a competitive salary, and experienced drivers earn incentives because of the high demand for jobs driving trucks.
Some professional truck driving jobs are paid base salaries, but most drivers earn their pay based on mile traveled agreements. It also depends on the truck driver’s experience, the trucking company or carrier, the type of trucking work, and the location. Generally, a truck driver will get paid by the mile more than those with a base salary.
Below are the things to consider when thinking about the average income for truck drivers:
- According to BLS, most trucking companies today pay drivers between $.30 and $.40 per mile.
- Every week, truck drivers drive approximately 2,000 to 3,000 miles.
- Due to the more robust demand for class A license drivers, they tend to get the best ‘per mile’ rate.
- The ELD or Electronic Logging Device Congressional Mandate – Truck drivers who track their Hours of Service should do it electronically as of 2017.
How Much Do Truck Drivers Make Per Week?
A truck driver’s salary depends on a lot of factors. It includes the number of miles they drive weekly and the rate per mile offered by trucking companies. Below are some facts to consider about the truck driver’s wage.
- On the low end, if they drive 2,000 miles/week for a $0.28 per mile rate, a truck driver would make $560 per week.
- On the high end, if they drive 3,000 miles/week for a $0.40 per mile rate, a truck driver would make $1200 per week.
Truck Drivers Earning Potential
Aside from the ‘miles per week’ salary, many other factors add to truck drivers’ earning potential. Below are some of them.
- Type of Carrier and Driving: Professional truck drivers don’t limit themselves to one style of the job alone. They can perform in a dedicated team driving, specialized hauling, and others. If they can do all these, they are much valued by each carrier or driving company based on the current demand. The rate of carrier to carrier also varies with this type of driver’s position.
- The Mileage: The longer the truck driving distance, the more chance of increasing their earnings. That’s why drivers are encouraged to accept assignments that need longer miles. Aside from it, they have an opportunity to get bonuses because of mileage milestones. If they drive more, professional truck drivers can make extra-base payments.
- Additional Bonuses: Each role or position in professional truck driving has a set of bonuses. The drivers are given rewards and incentives like signing with a particular carrier, achieving a mileage milestone, and referring other professional drivers for extra cash.
- Years of Experience: Efforts do pay off! With lots of experience in the driving industry, you can build an excellent reputation to demonstrate your hard work and competency. Carriers and driving companies are more impressed with exceptional and professional drivers who can pay more for their effort and time. If you have years of experience as a driver, you can possibly negotiate at a higher rate, especially with miles per week ratings. Aside from that, you could earn more benefits packages too.
Truck Drivers Earning Bonuses
Truck drivers may also make money through several bonuses as an additional payment to their regular salary if they are CDL-trained drivers. Though carrier companies are different, they mostly offer bonuses as well. Below are some of them.
- Monthly Mileage – Trucking or carrier companies pay extra to their drivers who triumph business thresholds for miles. Drivers can earn money for longer driving distances and extra cash for driving with a specific company.
- Sign-in Bonus – To attract new drivers, the competing trucking companies offer a sign-on bonus for truck drivers who choose their company. It can be a gradual or whole sum payment and may differ from each carrier.
- The efficiency of Fuel – If you are a professional driver, you know how to use several fuel-saving practices. It will only prove to the carrier company how cost-conscious driver you are. Most trucking carriers appreciate it and may reward you for cutting down on fuel expenses.
- Safety Payment – If proven that you are a cautious truck driver, carriers tend to offer bonuses for safe driving practices, especially when out on highways. For most carriers, it means good business because you can safely drive a trailer, which can also save lives.
- Layover Payment – Some carrier companies provide layover pay if the driver is being stalled in their deliveries. It’s one way of paying truck drivers for the time lost while performing work.
- Honest DOT Inspections – Department of Transportation or DOT Inspections are great for the company and the driver. And most carriers tend to pay their drivers for a clean inspection done.
These earning potentials for a truck driver will depend on the chosen job or responsibility they decide. Depending on each truck driver’s salary rate, it may also differ from carrier to carrier.
How Do Truck Drivers Get Paid?
Generally speaking, how much money you’ll earn as a truck driver will depend on multiple factors, including:
- Your experience
- Your reputation
- Type of cargo
On the other hand, how you get paid as a truck driver is typically standardized in the US. Here are the most common types of how truck drivers get paid:
- Per mile
- Per hour
- Stop pay
- Per diem
- Special incentive pay
- Team driver pay
Do Truck Drivers Actually Make Good Money?
In the truck driving industry, pay varies a lot. How much you will earn as a truck driver depends on your location, experience, and the type of truck you drive. It’s important to remember that not all truck drivers are the same, and not all companies are willing to pay more for top talent.
However, if you are unsatisfied with how much you earn now, you can always change the location or upgrade your skills. For example, drivers with their TWIC card earn, on average, 10.73% more than the average. And let’s not forget that truck driving has other benefits, such as job security, insurance, and a 401(k).
Which Truck Drivers Get Paid the Most?
If you are serious about getting a good career in the trucking industry, the trucking jobs below are considered the highest paying.
- Solo Driver: The average earnings for this job is $49,000 – $59,000 during the first year.
- Dedicated Driver: This driver works for a specific business, like a department store. They move the company’s products or merchandise and earn around $65,000.
- The Trainer: You can train new truck drivers and could earn $80,000 annually.
- Specialized Driver: You can be specified to different jobs like haul drivers that could earn $80,000 every year. Other responsibilities under this category include tank driving, hazmat driving, ice road trucking, and oversized load driving. Would you believe an ice road trucking driver or owner operator can earn $250,000 annually? And this is considered their part-time job only. All other specialized jobs involve many risks, but the pay is fantastic.
- Team Driver: This is one of the best opportunities in the trucking business. If you are a team driver, you can work with another driver. It allows you to take turns if you’re tired and rest. In this setup, you can cover a larger distance in just a short time. But both of you will receive the salary as total mileage and not only the part you drove. Team drivers could earn from $100,000 – $150,000 per year.
- The Owner-Operator: It’s possible to run a trucking business with just you, a few drivers, and a massive fleet of your trucks. This role can give you $100,000 per year.
Though it’s possible to be an owner-operator of a trucking business, it takes a lot of risks. For truck driver beginners, it will cause them a startup hassle that might affect the company’s operation. Do not be tempted right away. You can gain experience first. You need to get all other opportunities as a driver before you can be a reliable one.
How Much Do Truck Drivers Make Starting Off?
If you are planning to become a truck driver, you may be wondering about the potential truck driver income from the job in the first place. More importantly, you would want to know how much you can make initially. While the actual figures may vary according to where you work and the nature of the work, standard statistics show that a truck driver earns between $0.28 and $0.42 per mile.
These rates will increase if you have enough experience and certifications in the area. Because the trucking industry is growing, there is an increasing demand for top-of-the-class truck drivers. Based on the primary rates, you can earn a decent amount depending on how many miles you can ride weekly. At least, you can expect to make around $560 per week, given that you can drive 2,000 miles.
So How Much Do Truck Drivers Make?
So, how much does a CDL driver make? The answer varies with role, location, experience, and many other factors. During the first year, you can earn an estimated $55,000 and more. In 2 years, you could make more than $80,000. Eventually, with years of experience, truck drivers can earn six figures.
With these possible salaries, joining the trucking industry is very tempting. A new career is waving at you. A truck driver can make a considerable amount of pay per year, depending on several factors explained above.
The trucking industry continues to grow and become healthy, especially with the explosion of online shopping. Yes, during the startup year, the truck driver’s salary might be less, but once they gain years of experience, they will earn a respectable amount from this job. Now that you know how much truck drivers make per year, hopefully, it’s easy to see the benefits of entering the professional truck driving industry.
How Often Do Truck Drivers Come Home?
The answer to the question “how often do truck drivers come home” varies. Firstly, when you start, you are on the road under the supervision of an experienced truck driver. Then, when you start training, you can’t go home before your trainer does. And then, when you complete the training, your schedule depends on your position.
There are two main options for drivers with CDL:
- They work as long-haul drivers
- They become regional or city drivers
Long-haul drivers usually stay on the road longer than regional and city drivers. On average, they drive 100,000 miles yearly and come home every four to six weeks.
On the other hand, regional and city drivers drive about 50,000 miles per year and are typically home every night, although many local drivers work long days while regional drivers come home two to three times each week.
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