How Much Can You Earn as a Truck Driver?
There are many things that draw hardworking people to the trucking industry. Some come for the freedom of the open road. Others come because they want to see new places. Many come for the high earning potential. Skilled truck drivers are in high demand and are thus well-compensated for their services. Top earning truck drivers make over $100,000 per year and enjoy benefits like referral bonuses, sign-on pay (better than hiring bonuses), performance bonuses and safety bonuses (accident-free pay). If you're hoping to start your career as a truck driver, here's what you can look forward to.
Types of Trucks
There are several types of commercial vehicles in the trucking industry. The type of truck you drive can affect your schedule and earning potential.
Dry Van Trucking Jobs
Dry van trucking jobs are popular among drivers who like to come home at the end of every day - and who also like to be around on weekends.
National average : $1033 weekly
Earning potential: Top earners can make over $110,000 annually
Flatbed Trucking Jobs
Flatbed trucking jobs have great earning potential. Drivers are typically away from home for 11 to 14 days, and then come home for three days at a time.
National average : $997 per week
Earning potential: Top earners can make up to $112,000 annually
Reefer Trucking Jobs
Drivers of refrigerated trucks haul important products like cheese, frozen foods and other temperature-controlled goods around the United States. They may drive across the country with their goods and be gone for many days at a time.
National average : $1090 per week
Earning potential: Top earners can make over $107,000 annually
Tanker Trucking Jobs
Tanker truck drivers haul liquids and gasses over long routes. They're often gone for days at a time, then come home for days at a time.
National average : $1,188 per week
Earning potential: Top earners can make over $100,000 annually
Heavy and Tractor-Trailer Truck Driver Salary
According to the United States Department of Labor and the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 1.9 million truck drivers employed in May of 2020 earned a median annual wage of $47,130, a weekly wage of $906, or what comes to be approximately $3,927 per month. DOL reports that the average hourly wage for a truck driver is $22.66 per hour. Earning potential depends a lot on load types, company, experience, and other factors, so there is a great deal of variation.
While the lowest 10% of truck drivers might make less than $30,000 per year, the top 10% of salary earners, especially those that haul for well-established, reputable, high-paying companies, can make $70,000 year. That's more than $1,500 a week and $6,875 per month.
If you're just starting out in the industry, you can expect to earn less at first, and more as you gain experience. Inexperienced drivers with larger trucking companies, such as Roehl, earn an average $60,000+ after about nine months on the job.
Factors That Affect Earnings
There are many factors that affect earnings.
CDL Class Types
CDL licenses come in three class types (class A, B and C), depending on the weight of the vehicle and the cargo. Your CDL class type will affect the kind of truck you drive. Give thought to the type of vehicle you'd like to drive (described above), then choose your class type accordingly.
Along with your vehicle class type, you can also get endorsements that allow you to transport special types of cargo or drive special kinds of vehicles. Endorsements help maximize your earning potential by putting you in a class of drivers that have special skills.
Not all drivers can haul all kinds of freight. When you haul an in-demand freight type that requires a special endorsement, then you can earn more money.
Experience makes a big difference in your earning potential. As with any industry, less experienced employees start at the lower end of the pay scale.
Once out on the road, new drivers typically earn between 27 and 40 cents per mile. Rates rise after six months or one year of experience and continue to rise as the driver gains experience.
How Much Can You Drive Per Day Driving a Commercial Truck?
Since truck drivers are paid by the mile, one of the first questions new drivers ask is, “How much can I drive in one day?”
This is a complicated question. Time spent at the loading dock, traffic complications, speed limits, and state and federal regulations limiting how many hours a driver can work all play a role in how much distance a driver can cover.
The FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) does not limit how many miles a truck driver can drive in a single day, but they do limit the amount of time a driver can drive per day. This limit? 11 hours. Commercial truck drivers (those that carry property, not passengers) may drive 11 hours after 10 consecutive hours off duty. In addition to this rule by the FMCSA, there are others related to driving time.
Solo Versus Team Truck Driving Jobs
Team truck drivers have a higher earning potential than solo drivers. Solo drivers have to stop for rest, and their miles are limited by their need for sleep. Drivers that team up with a partner can keep driving endlessly without long breaks for sleep. As one driver is behind the wheel, the other driver can rest. An experienced driver who works as a part of a team can make as much as $2884 per week ($150,000 annually), depending on their experience, what kind of vehicle they're driving and more.
Truck Driver Salary
If you work for a trucking company that pays well, you can expect to be well compensated, if you are an experienced truck driver.
Here are some ways that you can earn more money through bonuses and hard work.
Sign-on Pay (Better than Hiring Bonuses)
Benefits. Excellent medical and dental benefits, as well as other benefits including life insurance, 401k, profit sharing and more
One More Benefit of Driving a Truck: Job Security
Truck drivers are in high demand and short supply! In fact, in the fall of 2021, the shortage reached an all-time high of 80,000 drivers . According to the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI), the industry will be short 174,000 drivers by 2026. When you're an experienced, skilled truck driver, you can quickly find a job no matter where you move.
Are you ready to earn money while performing a valuable service? Do you want to be a part of the crucial system that moves goods and services around our nation? Get your start at ZETA Driving School. We are committed to helping our students to become professional, highly skilled, and fairly compensated commercial drivers.