How Much Money Do Truck Drivers Make?

Unlike other careers with a set salary, Truck Drivers are typically paid a set rate per mile that they travel, not for how long they work. That rate varies depending on the years of experience the driver has, the region where they drive and the company they drive for. According to the BLS†, most trucking companies pay drivers between $0.27 to $0.40 cents per mile. You may find some companies paying more because of the high demand for Class A licensed Truck Drivers due to the ongoing truck driver shortage. Werner Enterprises for example invested more that $30 million dollars in 2018 alone on driver pay increases. That investment increased their truck driver’s pay per mile by 11.8%. So even if you start out at a certain rate per mile, your performance and the industry demands can cause that to change over time.

On average, a Class A CDL holding Truck Driver can expect to drive between 2000 and 3000 miles per week. When you get paid by the mile, your odometer counts your money for you as the miles fly by. This makes it easier to track your expected pay. Truck Drivers that are paid by the mile do tend to make more than hourly or salary paid drivers.

Truckers have the opportunities to earn bonuses in addition to their regular pay. Truck Driver Pay also varies by company, location, the type of driving you do, the materials you haul, and your certifications. The best news is that new truck drivers will find competitive wages and great incentives due to the current high demand.

Types of Truck Driving Jobs

  • Orientation and Training pay – Typically when you begin with a carrier, you’ll undergo specialized training with a company driver. Some carriers set a standard pay rate while you train. For example, Covenant pays $450-$525 a week for the first 35 days for their new Hazmat drivers.2 After that, their rate is calculated per mile.
  • Solo OTR Truck Driver– Solo truck drivers make up a large percentage of the workforce. Their earnings vary depending on the available bonuses offered by their carrier. That’s why having the option to choose your carrier is such a great benefit! These drivers average up to $45,000 or more their first year!3
  • Team OTR Truck Driver– Driving with a fellow truck driver means you can log more miles together. With two drivers, the truck never stops moving. While you take your rest period your partner is driving. Because the drivers split the total combined mileage, there is typically more money to be made. Teams can split an average up to$100,000-$150,000a year!3
  • Dedicated Truck Driver– A truck driver who makes runs and deliveries for a single company (such as Walmart or Home Depot) is called a dedicated driver. They have a specified run or route for their dedicated company where they transport only the company’s materials. These drivers typically get a bit more home time than standard cross country truck drivers. The trade-off is that these positions typically require you to handle the freight you are delivering. These positions can sometimes pay less than truck drivers who log more miles driving cross country. Dedicated drivers typically average$45,000 to $65,000!3
  • Truck Driver Trainer– After you’ve spent a few years on the road, you can use your knowledge and experience to train new truck drivers entering the industry. Carriers typically require their new drivers to ride with a trainer until they feel comfortable with the driver going solo. Truck Driver Trainer pay and can average$60,000-$80,000a year!3 Gaining enough knowledge and experience to train new drivers can really make a difference in pay!
  • Owner-Operator– If you like the idea of running your own business instead of working for an employer, consider becoming an owner-operator once you have adequate experience working for a carrier. Owner-operators can earn a greater rate-per-mile by cutting out the middleman and signing contracts directly with companies. As an owner-operator, you could eventually have your own fleet of drivers! Owner-operators can earn$100,000 plus a year!3

How does the average salary of the different types of truck driving jobs stack up?

  • Solo OTR Drivers
  • Team OTR Driver
  • Dedicated Driver
  • Truck Driver / Trainer
  • Owner Operator

Bonuses

In addition to a regular paycheck, you may also be able to make money through various bonuses as a Class A CDL trained truck driver. Each trucking carrier is different, but many offer bonuses like:
  • Monthly mileage – Some carriers pay their drivers extra when they achieve company thresholds for miles. Earn money for driving the longer distances and earn extra pay just because you drove them with your company!
  • Sign-on bonus – In order to attract new truck drivers, competing carriers will sometimes offer sign-on bonuses for drivers who choose their company. The amount differs from carrier-to-carrier and can be paid as a whole sum or through gradual payments.
  • Fuel efficiency – By using various fuel-saving practices, you prove to your carrier that you are a cost-conscience truck driver. Carriers appreciate that, and many reward their drivers for cutting down on fuel.
  • Safety pay – Carriers strive for safe driving and may even offer bonuses for proven safety out on the highways. Proving that you can safely drive a tractor-trailer means more than good business, it means saving lives!
  • Layover pay – If you are inconvenienced or stalled in the delivery process, some carriers offer layover pay as a way of compensating truck drivers for the time lost.
  • Clean DOT Inspections – Clean Department of Transportation inspections are good for both the driver and the company. Carriers know this, and many pay their truck drivers for clean inspections.
  • Referrals – Having a friend sign up for your carrier company could lead to hefty bonuses. CDL-trained truck drivers are in high demand, and carriers are ready to pay for them!

Benefits

While benefits are not direct money, they can be of great value to drivers. Before deciding on a trucking carrier, you can determine if their benefits fit your lifestyle. Typical benefits for Truck Drivers include
  • Paid Vacation Time
  • Paid Sick Time
  • Medical and Dental Insurance
  • Life Insurance
  • Job Security
  • Flexible Schedules
  • 401k Retirement Plans and more

CDL Training at Roadmaster

In order to become a truck driver, you first need to pass your CDL exam. Roadmaster’s industry experts will work with you behind-the-wheel and in the classroom to make sure you have the skills needed to successfully obtain your Class A CDL.
Where can you start? Chat now with a Roadmaster representative or fill in the information below to get a conversation started. Discover what opportunities you have to make money as a Class A CDL truck driver today!
  1. Dept. of Labor
  2. Covenant info supplied by 2016 Covenant Transport Student Program brochure
  3. wage info supplied by Werner Enterprises
  4. U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics
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