How Much Do Commercial Truck Drivers Make?

How much do commercial truck drivers make? If you plan on getting into the trucking business, this is an essential question.

Unfortunately, there’s no straightforward answer here. Truck driver salaries can vary greatly depending on factors like the type of trucking being done, the driver’s experience, distances covered, and more.

By understanding these factors, you’ll be better positioned to get a fair-paying truck-driving job based on your experience.

To help you understand this better, we break down everything you need to know about truck driver salaries in the guide below.

Commercial Truck Drivers Salaries

The average truck driver’s salary in the US is $1,864 per week. This comes from a reported 434.6k salaries.

However, what truck drivers earn can differ vastly depending on various factors – like the driver’s experience, the type of trucking being done, the distance drivers cover, and more.

The average pay for an owner-operator can also differ vastly compared to a driver employed by a trucking company. Local drivers and regional drivers also earn differently compared to long-haul truckers.

Plus, different pay structures are involved in various types of trucking jobs.

Factors that Influence Truck Driver Pay

As mentioned above, a truck driver’s salary can differ vastly depending on various factors. Let’s break this down into more detail.

Salary of a Truck Driver by Route Type (Distance)

The salary of a truck driver can vary based on the type of route they drive.

Long-haul or cross-country routes often pay differently than shorter routes driven by regional truck drivers due to differences in distance, time commitment, and demand.

Salary of a Truck Driver by Operating Mode

The mode of operation can significantly impact a truck driver’s salary.

Drivers operating as owner-operators might earn differently than those employed by trucking companies. Specialized freight or specific industry-related transport may also influence pay scales.

For example, hazmat truck drivers, mining industry drivers, or OTR truck drivers have areas of specialization, which could result in earning more money and additional benefits compared to an Amazon delivery driver.

Salary of a Truck Driver by Experience

Experience plays a crucial role in determining a truck driver’s salary.

Drivers with more years in the industry often earn higher pay due to their expertise, knowledge of routes, safety records, and familiarity with the job’s demands.

The longer you’ve held a commercial driver’s license and have a clean driving record, the better your chances are of earning more money.

External Factors Affecting Salary

Various external factors can influence a truck driver’s salary, such as economic conditions, supply and demand for drivers, fuel prices, industry regulations, seasonal variations, and overall market dynamics.

These factors can fluctuate and impact pay levels within the trucking industry. This also means regional truck driver pay can differ in quite a big way.

truck on ice road
What Types of Truck Driving Pay the Most?

There are various truck driving jobs, and those requiring special endorsements or licenses often tend to pay higher. This is because of the extra skills, training, and responsibilities involved.

Here are some types of truck driving jobs that typically pay more.

Hazmat Trucks (H Endorsement)

Drivers transporting hazardous materials (Hazmat) usually earn higher pay due to the increased risk and specialized training required to handle such cargo safely. This endorsement involves transporting any materials deemed hazardous by federal law.

Doubles/Triples (T Endorsement)

Truck drivers hauling double or triple trailers often command higher pay due to the complexity and skill required to maneuver these larger combinations of vehicles on the road safely.

This endorsement permits drivers to operate multiple trailers simultaneously.

Tankers (N Endorsement)

Drivers transporting liquids or gases in tanker trucks typically earn more due to the specific handling and driving skills necessary for these vehicles.

This endorsement is required for hauling liquids or gases in bulk.

Hazmat and Tanker (X Endorsement)

Combining Hazmat and Tanker endorsements (X Endorsement) typically increases pay. Drivers with this endorsement have the qualifications to transport hazardous materials and tanker loads, requiring a higher level of expertise and responsibility.

Ice Road Drivers

Ice road truckers who navigate frozen roads and extreme conditions in remote areas, such as Alaska or Northern Canada, tend to earn higher salaries.

This is due to the hazardous nature of the job, driving in extreme weather conditions, and the specialized skills required to operate a commercial vehicle in such environments.

time sheet

Truck Driver Pay Models

To understand how much a truck driver’s salary is, it’s essential to understand the different pay structures involved.

Hourly Pay

Some truck drivers are paid based on the number of hours worked. This model calculates payment for the time spent driving, loading, unloading, or performing other work-related tasks.

Per Mile Pay

This model pays truck drivers a set rate for every mile they drive. It’s a common method where drivers receive a specific amount for each mile traveled, incentivizing longer distances and more driving hours.

Fixed Salary

Certain truck drivers receive a fixed salary regardless of the hours worked or miles driven. This model provides consistency in income, and drivers who prioritize stability over pay fluctuations based on hours or distance may prefer it.

Percentage of the Load

Truck drivers receive a percentage of the total revenue generated by the load they transport in this pay structure.

Team Driver Pay

Team drivers, where two drivers share driving responsibilities for a single truck, can get paid uniquely.

This could involve dividing the pay based on the miles driven, hours worked, or a fixed load percentage. This depends on the arrangement between the team members and the employer.

Truck driver salary

Types of Commercial Truck Driver Pay

Beyond pay structures, there are also various forms of truck driver pay that you should know about.

Per Diem Pay

This pay model compensates truck drivers for daily expenses incurred on the road, such as meals and lodging.

Per diem pay is a daily allowance provided to cover these expenses. It is often given in addition to the driver’s regular wages.

Stop Pay

Truck drivers sometimes receive stop pay for each stop or delivery made during a trip.

It compensates drivers for the time spent at various stops, including loading and unloading cargo, which can add up during multi-stop routes.

Detention Pay

When truck drivers experience delays at pickup or delivery locations beyond the agreed-upon waiting time, detention pay is provided.

This is to cover the extra time spent waiting due to delays in loading or unloading.

Fuel and Safety Bonuses

Some trucking companies offer bonuses to drivers based on fuel efficiency or safe driving practices.

Fuel bonuses reward drivers for achieving good fuel mileage, while safety bonuses acknowledge drivers for maintaining a safe driving record and sticking to safety regulations to avoid commercial vehicle accidents.

Accessorial Pay

Accessorial pay includes extra compensation for various non-driving tasks or services performed by truck drivers.

This could involve handling specialized equipment, assisting with loading or unloading, providing extra services beyond regular driving duties, or navigating challenging routes.

How Much Do Commercial Truck Drivers Make?

Final Thoughts

Various factors go into how much truck drivers earn and how they earn money. If you’re planning on entering the trucking business, then it’s essential to understand the different elements that go into a driver’s compensation package. This can help you build the right experience and endorsements to maximize your earning potential.

Are you looking to purchase a semi-truck for your trucking business? Then, you’ll need to get financing. Contact us at Mission Financial Services, where we help truck drivers get funding for their dream commercial vehicle – even if you have a bad credit score.

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