How much do truck drivers make in salary?
How much do truck drivers make? That’s one of the number one questions we get asked, but the answer has a number of variables. A LOT of variables, actually!
Driving a truck is much like any other profession– entry level positional start lower on the pay scale, and more experienced workers earn more. Whether you plan to stick it out and earn more, is up to you. The good news for truckers is that unlike most jobs, it only takes a driver a few years to earn as much as many other drivers with more seniority. So how much? Do truck drivers make a good living? Let’s explore…
How Much Do Truck Drivers Make: Considerations
Do you want to work long-haul or regionally, do you want to become an owner-operator or an independent contractor? What do you want to haul? Answers to these questions will determine how much a truck driver can expect to make.
The biggest factor in answering the question “How much do truck drivers make?” will depend on the company you choose to work for. Do your research, ask drivers who work for companies you’re interested in what you can expect to make, and don’t focus solely on the pay per mile number. Several carriers try to entice new recruits with more money per mile but cannot give you enough miles per week or send you back empty.
For example, CR England pays $.90 per mile when the truck is loaded, and $.80 per mile empty. According to a recent report, CR England drivers average 1,600 miles per haul, which is a payout of nearly $1,440 before taxes. What if that 1,600 mile haul ended up only being 1,100 miles and you had to drive back 500 miles empty? Then your payout would only be $1,390.
Central Refrigeration pays a higher rater per mile, $.95, but line haul only averages 1,100 miles; however, they also pay higher rates for running empty.
How Much Do Truck Drivers Make? Questions the Driver MUST ASK FIRST
Some of the questions you need to ask when answering the question “How much do truck drivers make?”:
- How much do you pay per mile– loaded and empty?
- How many miles can you guarantee me per week?
- What is the average length of haul?
How Much Truck Drivers Make by Region
Do truck drivers make more money based on region? According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and information obtained from Indeed.com, the states with the highest reported pay for truck drivers are: Mississippi, Wyoming, New York and Washington. The mid-range salary average for each of the states are: $68,000, $61,000, $60,000 and $59,000.
How Much Truck Drivers Make by Specialty
Do truck driver make more money by specialty? Choosing a specialty is another predictors of future income expectations. According to a Chicago Trucker’s report, LTL haulers can expect to earn $84,000, while regional drivers can expect to make $67,000 annually. Flatbed drivers can expect to make $60,000, and auto haulers, tank trucks and local drivers come in just below the $60,000 mark.
The highest paid truck drivers are over-the-road owner-operators. Some owner-operators report that they earn as much as $213,000 per year. Independent contractors came in second, with reported earnings of as much as $187,000, but these numbers can be deceiving as well, as many of these drivers pay out a large portion of their take home wages on truck payments, repairs and fuel.
*All figures are based on mid-range salary expectations. Many drivers will make more and many will make significantly less.
There is good news for those just getting into the trucking industry, experts expect salaries to rise as the demand for truckers increases.
In an interview with Today’s Trucking, Richard Mikes, managing partner with Transport Carriers Association, said, “You’re probably going to see number of carriers bumping wages two, four, six cents a mile just to protect their driver base.”
In the same interview, TCP Partner Lana Batts said, ”Sixty-thousand is not an unreasonable rate to expect to be paying these drivers,” she continued. “But will I go out and raise my wages tomorrow? Of course not. But the whole industry is going to have to gravitate towards that in the next few years,” she said, “or we’re really going to be in a mess.”
How Much Do Truck Drivers Make? Indeed May Be Too Optimistic
Take a look at the average truck driver salaries per specialty. Chart courtesy of Indeed.com.