Guest posting from Jake Peters of Driveteks
There are many positives to being a truck driver, the biggest positive being job security. Drivers have a lot of leverage when it comes to deciding their careers. However, many drivers are not paid a high enough salary. If you feel that you are one of these drivers, here is how to make more money as a truck driver.
Pick the Right State
There are 50 different average truck driver salaries across all 50 states. To no surprise, drivers in some states will earn thousands of dollars more a year compared to drivers in other states.
For example, the average annual truck driver wage in Nevada is $50,920. This is opposed to the average salary in Idaho which is $33,000 per year.
You can check out the average salary of each state here: https://www.truckingtruth.com/wiki/topic-30/truck-driver-pay-salary
Now obviously, it is tough to simply pick up and move to a new state. If you are thinking about moving to a state that pays more, you should do your research.
Look into the culture of the state, which city you would need to live in to work, and the cost of living.
Finally, thanks to the power of the internet, you can apply for positions in your desired state without leaving your current home. Life will be easier if you move somewhere you have a job lined up.
It is no secret that different trucking companies will pay their drivers wages that are different from the competition. Fortunately for you, drivers have a big say in where they work. Especially if you have a clean record.
You can find out a company’s pay by speaking with the driver recruiter and asking them about it. Because there are often miscommunications between recruiters and drivers, it is advisable to do your research.
Platforms like Glassdoor will provide you with information regarding how much a company pays its drivers and the company culture.
If you just got your CDL license do not work for the first company that offers you a position, make sure to do your research and apply for a company that takes care of you.
Build Experience and Level Up Your Endorsements
Like any other profession, the more skills you have the more people will pay you for these skills. You can prove to employers that you are more skilled than other drivers by earning different endorsements.
Hazmat and Tanker endorsements typically start with a base salary between $50k – $70k with some companies advertising positions that pay $90,000.
Experience will get you paid as well.
Solo OTR truck drivers make around $45,000 in their first year. However, as truckers gain more experience they can be assigned more challenging routes and earn up to $88,000.
More Technical Routes Pay More Money
Ice road truckers can make up to $250,000 in just 3-4 months of work. They are paid so much because the routes they are running are so technical and the 3-4 months are very demanding.
Other specialty drivers include coal mine truckers, oversize load drivers, and HAZMAT haulers.
Keep in mind that these routes are paid more money because the routes have a greater risk. To be hired for one of these high-paying routes you need to be dedicated and have at least 5 years of a clean driving record.
Find a Trusted Partner and Become a Team
The average team truck driver earns $80,674 a year. The bottom 25th percentile earns $70,000 a year.
Companies are desperate to hire team drivers because they can take loads over long routes faster than solo drivers. Plus, there are not many teams that are reliable and available to be hired. The combination of high demand and low supply is increasing pay for teams.
The most important aspect of becoming a team driver is finding a partner you enjoy driving with.
The two of you will be in a truck cabin for hours on end over extended periods.
Finding a partner you enjoy driving with will make the two of you perform better and earn more money.
Begin Your Career as an Owner-Operator
Owner-operators both own and operate the truck that they drive. Because they own their truck, owner-operators are responsible for all expenses incurred, such as insurance, fuel, maintenance, etc.
Expenses aside, owner-operators far out-earn more than company drivers. On average owner-operators earn $141,000 a year.
If you are not careful, the trucking expenses can use up all of your yearly earnings. To be a successful owner-operator you are going to need to build a comprehensive trucking business plan.
Truck driving is an excellent career. High base salary, job security, and a strong say in your career path are excellent reasons to be in the industry. By being intentional and putting in the effort, you can increase your yearly earnings.