Salary: How Much Do Truck Drivers Make?

Truck Driving

Securing a career that pays well and keeps you satisfied is no easy feat – it’s in our nature to desire change and variety, and very few jobs are able to provide us with this.

A job that never varies does not challenge us; we soon become bored, careless and demotivated.

We are living in a time where people will rarely stay in one position for their entire career; we move department, or find a new company, or even change our career path altogether once the job satisfaction starts to fade.

Money is another driving factor in career changes – young people are always searching for a job that will provide financial stability, and these young people are often recent school-leavers, they want the next best position and the most lucrative job so will often move on from job to job in search of this.

If you also happen to be in pursuit of a job that pays well and does not require a college education, then trucking may be an option to explore.

Truck driving has its many perks – no two days are the same on the job and your surroundings will constantly change so there’s no danger of boredom, there is also a lot of money to be made as a truck driver so you can be assured of financial security for yourself and your family.

This article will provide a run-through of just how much money can be earned as a truck-driver and will also cover the variants that will affect the final salary – for example, specialized jobs or jobs that carry a higher risk will always be higher-paid.

Ultimately, trucking is a rewarding industry to be in; you can work alone and manage your workload in a way that suits you and earn a very healthy salary from it.

Salary – Let’s Talk Numbers

The average salary for truck drivers is about $45,012 to $58,000, but of course, there are cases of people earning much more and even cases of truckers earning less.

Here’s a table with information about the yearly average salary by state for truckers:

Average Truck Drivers Salaries by State

StateSalary
Alabama$43,995
Alaska$51,280
Arizona$43,634
Arkansas$40,549
California$49,232
Colorado$43,943
Connecticut$47,909
Delaware$44,075
Florida$42,312
Georgia$42,532
Hawaii$46,410
Idaho$41,599
Illinois$45,410
Indiana$43,061
Iowa$42,091
Kansas$41,267
Kentucky$41,034
Louisiana$41,853
Maine$42,488
Maryland$0
Massachusetts$0
Michigan$0
Minnesota$0
Mississippi$0
Missouri$0
Montana$39,882
Nebraska$40,417
Nevada$45,397
New Hampshire$44,736
New Jersey$48,923
New Mexico$40,086
New York$41,751
North Carolina$42,047
North Dakota$40,990
Ohio$42,973
Oklahoma$41,430
Oregon$43,898
Pennsylvania$43,987
Rhode Island$46,455
South Carolina$40,899
South Dakota$37,596
Tennessee$40,042
Texas$43,193
Utah$41,758
Vermont$42,444
Virginia$43,383
Washington$47,072
West Virginia$38,830
Wisconsin$43,414
Wyoming$39,130
* Salary information last updated 2019
4 Trucks

Top Paying Trucking Companies

Acme Truck Lines

If you’re an Acme customer and have noticed a recent spike in their product pricing, you’re about to learn why.

Acme Corporation is renowned for paying its staff a generous wage across its branches, including trucking; so essentially the customer is paying a little more so that the company can be good to their staff – they also offer a very rewarding employee benefits scheme.

Pros

  • Voted the best and top paying trucking company in all of the US
  • Acme has a large truck base – almost 3,000 in seven states
  • Acme haul an average of 9,000 trucks of food and goods each week, so you’ll rarely be short of work
  • Timely and weekly pay
  • Acme can pay via direct debit and will also grant cash advances and gas cards
  • Physical and bobtail damage insurance offered to all employees
  • Experience is not necessary to secure a job with Acme

Cons

  • Acme does not own its trucks but instead leases them. If your truck was in need of repairs, you might be left without a truck for a while – you cannot work without a truck and therefore cannot earn a wage.
  • You would need to attend a private trucking school in order to obtain your licenses as Acme do not offer a training program

Walmart

Walmart is a giant among supermarkets – it has set itself apart from its competitors by providing everything a consumer could need, in just one store, and for 10% less than its competitors.

Walmart is another company known for paying employees well as it recognizes the vital part that staff play in the functioning of the business.

Walmart truck drivers, for example, are one of the biggest pillars within its establishment – without the skills and timeliness of their truck drivers, produce would not be delivered and consumers would not be making purchases.

Pros

  • Walmart has ownership of all of its trucks
  • A Walmart truck driver works 5.5 days per week and earns a very generous salary of $82,000 per year
  • A safe driving bonus for employees every business quarter
  • Drivers are allowed time off to spend with their family once per working week
  • A driver is responsible solely for driving – they are not expected to load or unload produce
  • As of your first day of employment, you’d be entitled to medical and pharmacy benefits
  • Walmart runs a stocks and shares plan for employees
  • Employees tend to stick with this role – the majority of leavers are actually retiring

Cons

  • You need at least 30 months full-time experience of working as a truck driver on a class A trailer to get a job at Walmart – the experience must also be within the last 3 years
  • Walmart requires that employees hold a Hazmat endorsement as well as an Interstate Class A endorsement
  • They will not employ anybody who, in the past 3 years, has any serious traffic violations
  • Any convictions over the past ten years for reckless driving, DUI, operating under the influence and DWI would prevent them from employing you

CRST International

CRST is one of the oldest companies within the trucking industries and will employ anyone with a genuine passion and desire to forge a career – experience is not required.

Employees can be assured that they’ll be both paid and treated generously. 

Pros

  • CRST has been around for quite some time and is very reputable as a good employer
  • You can train with the CRST trucking school and earn your CDL license this way
  • Job security – the work is consistent and rewarding
  • The company has never made one single redundancy
  • As a new-started with the company, you will be paired with another more experienced driver who lives local to you – this could be a friend or family member
  • CRST understands the importance of home time – unlike most companies, they provide guaranteed time off to spend at home
  • The company pays $100 into your Hazmat application
  • Refer-a-friend scheme – CRST will pay employees a bonus of up to $500 if they recommend a friend or family member who goes on to become an employee
  • Employees are paid for both loaded and unloaded miles
  • Employees have the option to receive pay twice per week
  • Upon commencing employment with CRST, they cover your medical insurance through Blue Shield PPO
  • The employee benefits package includes life, accident and disability insurance
  • After 90 days of employment, they offer you enrollment onto the 401k scheme
  • Paid annual leave
  • Their ‘Shut Down’ policy – if a driver is unwell or the weather is dangerous, they are not permitted to work

Cons

  • The job includes spending several hours/days away from home
  • The concentration required for the job can often be tiresome and detract from the pleasure of visiting new places
  • Training is rigorous and requires a lot of concentration
  • Their training program is quite expensive so you may be required to commit wholly to the company until your bursary is repaid.
Truck wheels

Specialty Trucking

Although there clearly are numerous perks to working for one of the straight-forward trucking companies listed above, there are definite financial benefits to be gained from entering into a more specialized trucking role.

These specialized roles require additional training and licensing, but this will be rewarded with a sizeable pay packet.

Some of these roles include ice-road trucking, hazmat hauling or controlling oversized loads.

There’s a list to follow of specialty jobs that pay nicely.

Ice Road Trucking

We’ve all watched clips of ice road truckers as they take their wheels to a frozen lake – we watch with trepidation because we know how dangerous it is.

Well, employers of ice road truckers also sense that danger and reward their staff for their bravery and their specially developed skills.  

There is a certain level of expertise required to become an ice road trucker – the training can be grueling but it definitely pays off once your career takes off.

Some ice road truckers can earn an entire yearly salary in the space of a few short months with their specialized work.

Pros

  • Some drivers have been known to make up to $250,000 dollars between the most lucrative months of January and March
  • The work is hard but an ice road trucker need only work a few months to earn an entire year’s salary
  • Alaska and Canada are among the areas most in demand for ice road truckers so you may have a change of scenery

Cons

  • Obvious dangers to contend with – the snowy, icy weather can cause all kinds of issues
  • The job can certainly be stressful and limit your time spent at home with loved ones
  • Any repairs will likely need to be done by the driver – breakdowns can happen in very secluded and dangerously cold areas

Truck Driving in Iraq

It goes without saying that being a truck driver in Iraq comes with many hazards – but a lot of people choose to undertake the risk of kidnap and bombs in order to make a significant living.

Pros

  • You can earn up to $250,000 per year in this role
  • A chance to serving military personnel at their outposts by delivering supplies and food shipments to them

Cons

  • The job can be very dangerous due to political conflicts
  • You will be away from home for months at a time
Trucks on the highway

Working for Yourself

Of course, as with most skilled trades, there is always the option to become your own boss.

You don’t need to worry about not being able to afford a truck in one outright payment either; there’s the option of making your payments on a lease until the loan is repaid in full.

Or, alternatively, you could choose to keep leasing a truck as opposed to buying it, which would eliminate the responsibility of having to cover the upkeep of the truck as the owner would see to this.

There are different factors to consider before making any choices; you can find further information below.

Lease-to-own a truck

A perfect option for those who can envisage themselves one day owning their truck.

It’s as simple as maintaining a set amount of payments until the loan is fully paid off – the truck will then become your own property.

Pros

  • A self-employed trucker can earn up to $4000 per month on their own, flexible hours. The loan for the truck can also be taken over a variety of different term-times, so you can set your repayment at a rate that you know is affordable
  • The interest rate and the length of the loan-term is entirely your choice so you can choose the option that is right for you
  • Some companies that lease trucks will also cover maintenance and upkeep costs while you’re paying the loan back; this is only some companies though so you will need to do some research
  • Some companies may also provide you with a courtesy truck if yours is out of action and undergoing repairs
  • The owner of the truck will find work for you

Cons

  • The truck will not be your property until it is fully paid off
  • It can take quite a long time for the truck to be paid off – several years of your working life may be spent just paying off the truck
  • Until the truck is your property, you will be unable to make any amendments or customizations to it without the prior written permission of the owner
  • With some companies, you may be required to pay for maintenance and upkeep of the truck

Lease a Truck

You may not have the desire to have your own truck, but still long for the benefits of working for yourself – if this is the case, leasing a truck may be the best option for you.

Pros

  • All the convenience of working for yourself with none of the responsibility of truck ownership
  • The truck owner will cover the maintenance and upkeep
  • They may also pay for gas, licenses and toll fares
  • Some companies will provide you with an alternative truck if your regular truck is in the garage for repairs
  • The truck owner will find work on your behalf

Cons

  • You will be making monthly payments towards the truck but will have no final outcome of ownership
  • You will not be able to make any amendments to your truck unless the owner has given you written authority to do so

Own a Truck

This is obviously the most expensive option but certainly has its perks.

The income that your work generates will be solely yours and you need not worry about securing work in order to pay off the leasing company – you can work at your own pace.

Pros

  • A very lucrative career option – some drivers can earn between $150,000-£200,000 in just one year
  • You can choose your own working hours to suit your needs and allow you time at home with family

Cons

  • While the pay can be very good, all upkeep, repairs, and maintenance will need to be covered by your own money
  • You will be responsible for finding your own work
  • Unless you have a back-up truck, you’ll likely be out of work and pocket if your truck is off the road for repairs

Conclusion

Truck driving is an amazing career with lots of adventures and the open road.

The payment is fair considering the job and that the educational requirements are faster to complete than most careers.

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