How Much Do Truck Drivers Make?

How Much Can You Make On The Open Road?

Thinking of becoming a truck driver? You might have heard that driving those monstrous trucks pays handsomely! On top of handsome pay, driving trucks promises great adventures on the road. So congrats on choosing this path. It’s a great choice for a great future.

But just like most people, you may be super curious about how much truck drivers really make. Well, it’s a legit question everyone should ask when they are about to embark on a new career.

Let’s help you learn about a professional truck driver’s salary, so read on.

Truck Drivers Average Annual Salary.

To start with, let’s be clear that truck driver salaries vary a lot. Based on several 3rd party data, including those from online sites like Indeed.com, Glassdoor.com, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual salary of truck drivers is said to be $55,512. While the top 10% of truck drivers earn around $60,000.

Certain drivers hauling hazardous loads can earn up to a maximum of $80,000 per year. Lastly, owner-operators earn a gross income of around $270,000 per year not excluding truck repairs, and maintenance expenses, which they are solely responsible for.

Being an owner-operator is like owning your own business in the sense that you’re solely responsible for all the expenses involved in getting your trailer from point A to B.

That’s the average, but salaries tend to top out around $80k per year.

It’s worth noting though that, unlike most careers where salaries are set at a monthly or daily rate, truck drivers are generally paid a fixed rate per mile traveled and not for the hours they worked.

Factors Affecting Truck Driving Income

The reason why truck drivers salary varies so much are due to a couple of different factors that include:

  • Mileage — as mentioned above, truck drivers are paid per mile traveled. This means that if you are up to the challenge of driving long distances, then you would likely earn more.
  • License and education — truck drivers who hold a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) earn more as opposed to those who don’t.
  • Region/location — In certain regions or areas truck drivers are paid more.
  • Years of truck driving experience — the churn rate in the truck driving industry is quite high. Most people aren’t able to endure the challenges of being on the open road, which is why they tend to quit within a short period of driving. Thus, drivers with years of experience are compensated very competitively.
  • The company you work for — Each company pays differently. This includes bonuses, incentives, and benefits.
  • Role — There are several types of driving roles and career options out there. Just like any other type of job, some pay more, while others pay less. Among the high paying driving roles are team truck driving and specialized hazmat hauling.

Where to start?

So now that you have a clear idea of how much you could possibly earn if you pursue your truck driving career, the next big thing you might want to know is how to get started.

Image of truck driver standing in front of rig holding up his CDL license
Image of truck driver standing in front of rig holding up his CDL license

First things first. Owning a Commercial Driver’s License or CDL is a must if you’d like to start a commercial truck driving career. Don’t be tempted to skip out of licensing because it’s a pretty bad idea for a couple of reasons.

  1. CDL drivers earn way more than non-CDL drivers ranging up to $20,000 extra per year.
  2. Driving a truck without a CDL is illegal. You will get fined for driving without a CDL.
  3. Reputable companies won’t hire unlicensed truck drivers.

With all those being said, investing in your training and licensing should be your starting point. Most importantly, getting a CDL is not at all expensive nor difficult. All you need is a reliable truck driving school. Scholarship grants are also available, so there’s no reason for you to skip getting a CDL at all.

So go get your CDL and start your truck driving journey with pride.

Just a dude that loves to write about anything and everything under the sun!

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