Truck Driver Salary: How Much Does a Truck Driver Make?
Trucking has become a widely recognized profession in the last couple of years. Throughout the ongoing supply chain challenges, truckers are heroes who keep things moving along. If you are looking for a career change and are considering a trucking career, knowing about truck driver salaries, how to increase your truck driver salary, and how to find the best trucking jobs is helpful. Read on to learn everything you need to know about trucking salaries and trucking jobs.
What does a truck driver salary depend on?
There are many different types of truck driving jobs and a wide range in truck driver salaries. The lowest paying jobs start around $30,000, the highest earning jobs bring in a solid six figures, and many trucking salaries fall in between. In fact, the average base salary for truck drivers in the United States is $71,446. The differences in salaries are not just due to type of job or the driver’s level of experience. In fact, there are several factors that determine the salary a truck driver makes. Read on to learn about the trucker take-home pay in the United States based on location, routes, type of trailer, experience, specializations, company size, and operating mode.
A truck driver’s location is a factor in determining salary because truck driving salaries vary across the country, particularly for regional, drayage, or last mile drivers. In general, companies in the North and West offer higher salaries than companies in other parts of the country. However, if you’re an over-the-road (OTR) driver, you are less likely to see substantial pay disparities based on your home base location.
The routes you drive influence the salary you make. Local, regional, national, and international routes draw different salaries. OTR drivers who cross state or international borders earn more money than regional drivers, and regional drivers typically earn more money than local drivers. OTR drivers are on the road for weeks at a time, regional drivers are on the road for a few days at a time, and local drivers come home at the end of every day.
Type of Trailer
Not all trucks are the same. One major way in which trucks differ is by type of trailer. When you compare flatbed, reefer, and dry van trailers, the flatbed drivers earn the highest salaries, the reefer van drivers earn less than flatbed drivers, and dry van drivers earn less than reefer van drivers.
The driver’s level of experience is another important factor in the salary. Trucker drivers who are new to the road will earn less than drivers who have several years of experience. The experience-based pay differential is partially connected to the fact that carriers have to pay more to insure drivers who are new to trucking.
Drivers who are certified to haul special types of loads like hazardous materials or extra large cargo will earn higher salaries than drivers without those specializations. This is because it takes experience and training to know how to handle certain types of freight. Plus, there are more driving restrictions that drivers who haul hazardous or oversized freight need to understand and properly navigate.
Company size is a factor in driver salary. Drivers who work for small companies may earn more than drivers who work for large companies. This is due to the fact that smaller companies are often quick to adjust to market fluctuations and increase driver salaries. However, large companies provide benefits like a consistent workload and experienced management that a smaller company may not be able to offer.
Drivers typically operate utilizing one of three methods of operation: solo driving, team driving, or owner operating driving. Company team drivers typically make more than company solo drivers because solo drivers have to stop and sleep between shifts. Owner operator drivers typically earn the highest gross salaries, but their take-home pay is reduced significantly by overhead expenses that company drivers do not have to pay.
Types of Truck Drivers & Average Salary Ranges
Let’s take a closer look at the breakdown of types of truck drivers and average salary ranges.
Company Team Driver Salary
A company team driver works for a logistics company, uses their equipment and resources, and travels routes with another driver so one person can drive while the other person sleeps. They make between $0.48 to $0.75 per mile, driving up to 6,000 miles per week. The average weekly pay is $3,154.
Company Solo Driver Salary
A company solo driver works for a logistics company, uses their equipment and resources, and travels routes alone. They need to take driving breaks to rest and sleep. They make between $0.40 to $0.64 per mile, driving up to 3,000 miles per week, and the average weekly pay is $1,183.
Owner Operator Driver Salary
An owner operator driver contracts their driving services to shippers or other companies and they use and maintain their own equipment. They make between $0.94 – $1.79 per mile, driving up to 3,000 miles per week. Their average weekly pay is $3,163, but they are responsible for covering equipment and business expenses that logistics companies cover for employees.
Entry-Level Driver Salary
Entry-level drivers with less than 1 year of experience make an average salary of $67,125. This figure can vary depending on the other factors we have discussed, including operating mode, type of trailer, location, and route.
Experienced Driver Salary
Drivers with more than 10 years of experience make an average salary of $80,721, although this number can vary widely. Many experienced drivers make six-figure salaries. It really just depends on the multitude of other factors that determine the driver salary.
OTR Driver Salary
Over-the-road drivers travel long distances across the country and sometimes cross international borders. These drivers spend weeks at a time on the road. Driving as a OTR trucker is a unique lifestyle. Only around 3% of OTR drivers spend time at home every week. They make between $0.44 – $0.58 per mile and drive up to 3,000 miles per week. This averages to a salary around $72,000 per year, with the lowest earners bringing in around $30,000 and the highest earners bringing in over $100,000.
Regional Driver Salary
Regional truck drivers carry freight on routes within a specific zone or geographic area. Around 60% of regional drivers spend time at home on a weekly basis. They make between $0.37 – $0.55 per mile and drive up to 2,800 miles per week. This averages to a salary around $60,000 per year, with the lowest earners starting at $26,000 and the highest earners making nearly $100,000.
Flatbed Truck Driver Salary
Flatbed truck trailers are versatile haulers that are used to tow machinery, equipment, and other kinds of bulk cargo to destinations that do not have loading docks. Truck drivers make $0.50 – $0.60 per mile and have the opportunity to earn weekly bonuses of a couple hundred dollars for tarping. The annual salaries of flatbed truck drivers range from $80,000 – $90,000 per year.
Dry Van Truck Driver Salary
Dry van truck drivers haul enclosed trailers filled with non-perishable cargo. They make $0.48 – $0.52 per mile, which translates to an annual salary between $60,000 – $65,000.
Refrigerated Truck Driver Salary
Refrigerated trucks, also known as reefers, are temperature-controlled trailers that haul perishable cargo between states. The average pay per mile for truckers with a refrigerated driver certification is $0.52 per mile. The average annual salary is $65,000.
Oversized Load Truck Driver Salary
Drivers who transport heavy-duty or extra-large equipment across the country must have a special CDL license certification to haul the oversized loads. The average annual salary for truck drivers who haul oversized loads is around $118,000. This breaks down to about $2,400 per week and just under a dollar per mile.
How To Increase Your Truck Driver Salary
There are a number of ways in which truck drivers can increase their salaries.
- Gain experience logging miles and driving on the road.
- Increase your knowledge and skills with CDL endorsements.
- Maintain a clean driving record.
- Cultivate strong relationships with carriers and shippers in the industry.
- Select the best-paying loads.
- Plan your routes as efficiently as possible.
Truck Driver Jobs at QFS Transportation
QFS Transportation is one of the best intermodal trucking companies offering intermodal trucking services throughout the United States. QFS Transportation is always searching for experienced drivers across the entire nation. As one of the largest and fastest-growing companies with over 60 terminals across the country, our dedicated team gives our Owner Operators what they need to succeed. We provide a dedicated safety team, a mobile app, road-home balance, and the ability for you to choose the lanes you want to run.