truck driver

Want to know what some of the highest-paying trucking jobs are? Read on. Whether you’re looking to start your career in the trucking industry or you’re an experienced truck driver ready for your next big move, this article will help you.

Truck drivers typically earn an average of about $30.74 per hour, roughly over $60,000 annually. But this depends on several factors, including the type of truck driving job, number of miles driven, willingness to endure risk, location, etc. Some experienced drivers earn way more (over $320,900) yearly, and others earn less than the average salary.

Here is a list of the highest-paying trucking jobs to help you make a well-calculated career move and make good money.

The Highest Paying Truck Driver Jobs

As you go through the list below, remember that all the salaries outlined are estimates of the average amount most truck drivers earn in different positions. The actual take-home salary for individual drivers in the same type of trucking job may vary from one week or month to the other.

Skilled drivers with clean driving records and additional endorsements under the following truck driving positions nearly always earn the highest:

Owner Operator Driver

Owner-operators are essentially business owners running their own trucking company. They earn the most between $190,140 and $541,624, on average, because their earning potential depends on how well they run their business.

As an owner-operator, you’ll still have to comply with FMCSA’s strict hours of service regulations, but you’ll have total control over your working schedule. Because of this, there’s no cap on how much you can earn. You’re in charge of the amount of work you take – the more you work, the more you’ll make.

Also, owner-operators have one of the best opportunities for growth within the trucking industry. You can operate in multiple niches and on different routes as an over-the-road or regional truck driver, provided you have the required qualifications. You may even expand your operations and become a fleet owner after some time.

Specialized Team Drivers

Team driving involves two truck drivers taking turns driving the same truck to keep the load moving for up to 22 hours a day, cutting cargo delivery time in half compared to solo drivers. Team drivers complete trips in about three days, whereas solo drivers take six days or more.

The national average annual salary for team truck drivers is approximately $119,464, but specialized team drivers hauling protected loads can earn more. For instance, Department of Defense team drivers skilled in transporting firearms, explosives, or cash typically earn over $8,000 weekly while sharing driving and guarding duties.

Ice Road Truck Driver

Ice road trucking is a famous trucking industry niche with higher-than-average pay. That’s because ice road truckers face unique risks traversing challenging terrain and adverse weather conditions compared to other drivers.

Specifically, ice road drivers operate in remote areas during extreme winter weather and earn an average salary of about $62,422. Making over $60,000 in just four months is quite lucrative. It’s almost the same amount the average dry van load or regional truck drivers make in a year (around $67,000).

Heavy Haul or Oversized Load Drivers

Oversized load drivers transport specialized equipment whose dimensions exceed the standard legal dimensions provided by federal regulations. These over-dimension loads include construction equipment, mobile homes, and heavy industrial machinery.

Drivers operating trucks with oversized loads require extraordinary skills to navigate roads safely. They earn an average annual salary of about $96,532. But this depends on the length, height, and weight of the over-dimension loads hauled. The heavier the load you transport, the higher the pay will be.

Tanker Hauler

Tanker drivers transport liquids in tankers and fall under two categories:

  • Truck drivers who transport hazmat liquid loads, like gasoline and liquid propane
  • Truck drivers who transport regular non-hazardous liquid supplies, like water or milk.

Transporting hazardous liquid loads is perilous because of their high flammability. A mistake by a hazardous liquid tanker driver can result in devastating fires and intense heat. Given the risks and skills required for transporting hazmat liquid loads, hazmat tanker truck drivers earn an average salary exceeding $100,000 annually.

In contrast, tanker drivers transporting non-hazardous liquid loads earn approximately $88,824 per year.

Hazmat Truck Driver

Hazmat truck drivers transport hazardous materials, which are dangerous and highly toxic. They need to be more careful and alert than nearly all other drivers because the stakes are higher.

A hazardous materials accident can cause a public disaster, leading to a lengthy and expensive clean-up, loss of life, and profits for the hazmat driver and the trucking company.

Considering all these risks and the need for specialized equipment plus additional endorsements required for the job, hazmat drivers typically earn more than $105,500 annually.

Mining Industry Drivers

Mining industry truck drivers operate massive dump trucks required for mining and quarry operations. They transport extracted resources, including minerals and rocks, from the mines to storage areas and processing plants.

These drivers need to be more cautious to operate safely in confined areas and in rough terrain with smaller commercial vehicles and different mining equipment. They must also comply with various transportation and environmental regulations to prevent pollution and avoid inhaling harmful fumes, chemicals, and dust.

Because of the hazardous nature of the entire mining environment, the average annual salary range of most mining industry truckers is more than $95,000 annually.

car hauler

Car Haulers

Car haulers, also known as specialty vehicle haulers, transport high-value vehicles like luxury automobiles, collectibles, and race cars. They must be extra keen when driving to avoid damaging the specialty vehicles under transport. These drivers must also take additional measures to protect their high-value loads from theft. Specialty vehicle haulers’ salary ranges from $74,815 to $121,002 (or more) annually.

Private Carrier Drivers

Becoming a truck driver for private fleets or carriers, like Amazon, Walmart, Pepsi, or other major retail companies, is one of the most desired jobs in the trucking industry. Such company drivers enjoy the safety of a well-paying trucking job and industry-leading benefit packages.

Private fleet drivers can earn around $110,000 in their first year with a retail company like Walmart. You must have a clean driving record and a few years of experience to qualify for this job.

Highest-Paid Truck Drivers By State

Truck driver earnings differ per state. This means the average salary for regional truck drivers in Mississippi differs from the compensation of regional drivers in Kentucky, Ohio, California, etc. The same goes for other types of truck driving jobs, such as dry van drivers, flatbed drivers, you name it.

If you want to get an above average pay as a trucker in any trucking job, the highest-paying states to consider operating in include:

  1. Delaware – average salary is $70,901
  2. Rhode Island – $70,834
  3. Kentucky – $68,557
  4. Pennsylvania – $68,232
  5. Indiana – $67,33

Final Thoughts

Truck driving is a rewarding career, no matter what type of driving job you start with. Once you’re in the industry, you can open several new and lucrative doors to grow professionally and financially.

You’ll have to acquire in-demand skills and keep a clean driving record to access the highest-paying opportunities in various trucking jobs. Most truckers begin as local drivers for trucking companies and then work their way to becoming independent owner-operators.

If you’re an experienced truck driver ready to make your big career change and become an owner-operator, email or call us. We’ll customize our first-time buyer loans to your needs and help you purchase your first truck. So you can get started with ease.

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