How much do truck drivers make a year? Truck Driver Salary Q&A

When you are considering a career or a job, one of the first questions that you are likely to ask has to do with payment. If you have what it takes to handle a job, being a truck driver can be a rewarding career. However, just like any other career, it leaves a question, how much do truck drivers make a year? Well, to answer this question, you need to understand that there are numerous variables that determine truck driver’s salary.

Average truck driver salary:

A truck driver can earn an average salary of $42,388$55,045 per year. However, you should keep in mind that this amount varies depending on the trucking company you work for. To break these numbers down to experience and distance, long distance truck drivers earn approximately $15 per hour. If a driver is experienced enough, he can earn an average of $20 per hour. But you should remember that majority of long distance truck drivers are paid per mile instead of per hour. This is why we will first breakdown the salary by types of truck and experience before looking at other factors:

1. Types of truck

Heavy truck

Heavy truck

If you are a heavy truck driver, it means you will operate a truck with the capacity of 26,001 pounds per gross truck weight. These drivers drive within cities or across the boarders and may be out of their homes for several days. Such drivers can earn $19 per hour, or $39,830 per year.

Light truck

light truck

Light truck drivers transport light cargo and operates with less than 26,000 pounds per gross truck weight. These drivers travel to multiple locations in a single day within a city or a local area. Such drivers earn $ 15.92 per hour, or $33.120 per year.

2. Experience

Do you know that the CDL license you are holding influences your earning potential? Well, now you know. Truck drivers pay varies with experience. Just like any other job, the more experienced you are, the better the pay. For example, a class C licensed driver earns an average salary of $12 to $17 per hour depending on his level of experience. Class B license driver’s salary can vary from $20,000 – $40,000 per year, and finally, a class C license driver can earn up to $70,000 per year. Evidently, experience here is the main determinant of your salary.

Other factors determining truck driver’s salary:

1. Geographical Location

Geographical areaImage courtesy of  BSL

Location plays an important role in determining a truck driver’s pay. For example, according to BSL, Alaska and Nevada are the top paying states for truck drivers. They have an average salary of $48,250 and $46,470 respectively. Other locations that pay well are New York, New Jersey, and Massachusetts with annual mean wages of $43,000 per year.

2. Bonus and advancement

In most cases, first year truck drivers earn less per hour, and they may not have a fixed route or a schedule on the beginning. You can even begin as a substituting for regular drivers who go for sick leave or a vacation. However, as you progress in your career, you now have a potential to earn bonuses or get profitable routes and schedules.

3. Employed or self employed

If you choose to be an owner rather than drive for someone, you have a potential for earning more. However, there are some major factors that you should put into consideration such as licenses fees, maintenance costs, fuel, and absence of company benefits, vacation and other factors.

4. Cargo to be transported

The cargo in which you as a driver are responsible for transporting influences your salary. However, companies differ in payment. For example, truck drivers for postal services may earn $54,040 per year while other freight trucking companies with the highest levels of employment pays an average salary of $41,100. Also, transportation of flammable or hazardous materials can sometimes have higher pay and may include some bonuses.

5. Working Time

The question here is do you want to be home every night? Well, this determines your pay in that short local transportation pays less since it involves transporting smaller cargo. If you are such driver, you will be paid hourly and your hourly rate can differ, depending on your geographical location as well as the company you work for. Some drivers can earn as little as $12 while others might earn as much as $19 per hour. Generally speaking, hourly fee is lower but it has an advantage of not being on the road overnight.

6. Company

Trucking comapny

Generally, the company that you work for can make a difference when it comes to pay. The truth is that larger companies are capable of offering benefits and compensation to the employees, and are also likely to pay better. However, you should keep in mind that this is a general statement, so there may be exceptions.

7. Distance

The most common factor determining a truck driver’s pay is the miles he drives. Even though some companies pay per hour, majority of them pay per mile. The amount of money paid per mile varies from $18.16 per hour to as much as $24.07 per hour or even more depending with the company you work for. Factors that determine payment per distance may include; experience, freight, geographical location, and the company you work for.

Areas with the highest compensation rate for truck drivers. Data courtesy of BLS

Top paying locations

8. Labor polices

According to bureau of labor, in 2010, truck driver’s average income was $39,400 per year which means that some drivers can earn less while others may earn a little bit more. However, since many years have passed, the average is currently higher but it gives us a general idea of how truck driver’s salary increases compared to other careers. With enough experience, overtime, and bonuses, you may end up earning even more than $100,000 a year.

Here are the top paying regions for truck drivers. Image from BLS

top paying areas

One thing that is for sure is that truck driving jobs are in high demand and it is the one that keeps our economy thriving. Generally, truck driving industry generates $300 billion per year. This only means that this is a great career to venture into. The pay and the benefits are great, and you will always be in demand. After all, it is one of the best industries that keep America going forward.

Truck driving is a well-paying career since it comes with awesome benefits such as health insurance and more. However, this does not mean that it does not have some disadvantages; its lifestyle is one of the challenges for you are likely to spend better parts of your days away from your family. One of the good things about this career is that these jobs are in high demand as America transports more than 9 million tons of freight every year. Directly connected to that is that about 70% of the community rely on this this industry to transport their goods. Trucking is simply part of American way of life and as a driver, you will be able to take part in this and keep the countries moving forward.

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