Average Truck Driver Salary

by Austin Haskew on June 1, 2012

One of the first things anyone wants to know when deciding on a career is how much money they will make.  After all, if we work all day we want it to be worth it, right?  A truck driving salary, even the lowest paying position, is usually better than most average professions depending on the type of truck driving job you want to do.  Just as a computer technician makes more than a receptionist, the pay scale for trucking jobs increases according to the skills needed, the responsibility to the driver, and the dangers posed by the job.

There are a lot of different truck driving positions to choose from with different advantages.  If you want to be home every night you can drive locally; you will make about $19,000 on average making deliveries from local manufacturers to retailers.  Driving regionally, between 3-4 states and being home 2-3 days per week pays an average of $25,000-$30,000.  If you don’t have a need to be at home frequently there are a number of higher paying truck driving jobs that will pay you more money.

For instance, an OTR (over the road) truck driver can make anywhere from $40,000-$60,000 per year depending on the type of rig he or she chooses to drive.  A dry van driver that hauls non-perishable goods will make less than a reefer (refrigerated) rig that requires more attention, skill and responsibility.  Hauling heavy equipment, new cars from the factory to dealerships and transporting manufactured homes also pays more than conventional dry vans.  An oil field trucker will make more than an OTR driver due to the dangers of the job and the hours; an oil field trucker can sometimes be on call for days at a time.  More danger and more responsibility nearly always means more dollars in the paycheck.

Experience counts also when it comes to paychecks.  A trucker with less than a year of experience will make about 1/3 less than one with up to 4 years of experience; a veteran trucker with more than 15 years of driving experience can earn well over $100,000 depending on his endorsements.

It also makes a difference which company you choose to drive for.  Many companies offer profit sharing as an incentive to make deliveries on time with the goods in perfect condition.  Some offer benefits such as health and life insurance that would be worth about $12,000 if they were offered as cash; a driver with these benefits that makes $40,000 per year is actually being compensated about $50,000 if the perks were counted in.

The area of the country where you are employed will also affect how much you make.  States with a high cost of living will generally pay more than those that have lower costs of living.  A trucker driving in New York or California will bring home more than a trucker in the Midwest; the pay evens out due to the cost of living in those areas.

As you can clearly tell, truckers can earn quite a nice living driving a truck! There are tons of opportunities, and depending on a driver’s endorsements and the company he works for, experienced drivers can pull down salaries that are very hard to beat.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

SarahM. August 17, 2012 at 2:52 pm

I want to be a driver for a reputable company but I am having financing difficulties for the training I need to get my CDL,,any advice or help would be appreciated…Im 50, single my children are grown,,I live with my healthy elderly mother who needs my financial support since the death of my father this past Dec. 2011, how can I achieve this goal???


George February 28, 2013 at 7:17 pm

There are a lot of companies that will hire you then provide paid training. As far as national ones, Allied comes to mind. Just look up your local trucking companies and ask them if they offer an apprentice program. You may have to assist in their warehouse while you’re learning, but the training is worth it. Hope this helps.


Jeff February 20, 2013 at 3:58 pm

My brother is looking into becoming a truck driver after getting laid off last year. They seem to make great money and he loves driving :) Is there a site that lists truck driver jobs in Ontario? That would be awesome. Thanks!


Devin May 7, 2013 at 5:28 pm

Presentation of truck driver salasry


Ben May 19, 2013 at 10:40 am

I’m a local truck driver, I made $51,000 last year plus benefits, which had the job sitting at $64,000. I have been with the same company for over 7 years, so now I get 140 hours of paid vacation; 3 floating holidays; 5 paid sick leave days plus carry-over; 6 paid holidays and 3 paid personal leave days. But everyone pretty much has to start at the bottom at one of those big companies that will train you, pay you next-to- nothing and use you for the first year or however long the contract goes on for. But even the low paying OTR jobs are still better than a lot of what people who are graduating with college degrees are starting out at, simply because the economy is still bad right now. The problem is you are going to have to get some experience – and try to stay out of accidents and getting tickets or even warnings (warnings count the same as a ticket now against the company you are driving for). OTR isn’t all that bad if you enjoy driving and want to see the country – at least it wasn’t when I first started in 85′, I have no idea what it’s like now with all the regulations and DOT breathing down your back. I enjoy working long days, 5 days a week and every weekend off. I get paid by the hour so everything I do, including fueling the truck and doing pre and post trip inspections and all the paperwork – is paid time, not free time given to a company. My job requirements go well beyond just driving a truck, which I find mentally stimulating and keeps me engaged at work. There are great jobs out there in the trucking industry, you just have to be willing to pay the price and start at the bottom. You can eventually find yourself a good paying local job – there are plenty of them out there but again, you have to get the experience under your belt and you also have to look around to find them.


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