How Much Money Do Truck Drivers Make?
by Roadmaster Published May 10, 2016 Updated July 28, 2016
How much money you can make as a Class A CDL-trained truck driver is an important question to ask! If you’re willing to commit to the lifestyle that a truck driving job demands, you should know how much money you could potentially earn.
Unlike other careers with a set salary, truck drivers have a lot of opportunities to earn money in addition to their regular pay. Driver pay varies from things like company, location, the type of driving you do, the materials you haul, and your certifications.
The best news is that new truck drivers will find competitive wages and great incentives due to the current high demand. As you’ll see, there are a lot of opportunities to earn money as a Class A CDL truck driver!
Truck drivers are usually paid a rate per mile they travel, not for how long they work. However, some carriers in specific training situations pay drivers an hourly, daily, or weekly rate. The current minimum wage in America is $7.25 according to the Department of Labor, 1 and by multiplying it by 40 hours we see that a full-time minimum wage worker will earn around $290 a week.
Orientation/training pay – Typically when you begin with a carrier, you’ll undergo specialized training with a company driver. Some carriers set a standard pay rate while you train. For example, Covenant pays $450-$525 a week for the first 35 days for their new Hazmat drivers. 2 After that, their rate is calculated per mile.
Types of Driving
Solo OTR Driver – Solo truck drivers make up a large percentage of the workforce. Their earnings vary depending on the available bonuses offered by their carrier. That’s why having the option to choose your carrier is such a great benefit! Drivers average $40,000-$45,000 their first year! 3
Team OTR Driver – Working in a pair means you can clock longer distances. When there are two truck drivers, the work can be switched off while one driver rests or relaxes. Because both drivers are compensated for the combined mileage, there’s typically more money to be had. Teams can average up to $100,000-$150,000 a year! 3
Dedicated Driver – A driver who makes runs and deliveries for a single company (such as Walmart or Home Depot) is called a dedicated driver. They have a specified run or route for their dedicated company where they transport only the company’s materials. Dedicated drivers can average $45,000 to $65,000! 3
Trainer – After you’ve spent a few years on the road, you can apply to positions to train new drivers. You could then earn truck driver trainer pay and can average $60,000-$80,000 a year! 3 Gaining enough knowledge and experience to train new drivers can really make a difference in pay!
Owner-Operator – If you like the idea of running your own business instead of working for an employer, consider becoming an owner-operator once you have adequate experience working for a carrier. Owner-operators can earn a greater rate-per-mile by cutting out the middleman and signing contracts directly with companies. As an owner-operator, you could eventually have your own fleet of drivers! Owner-operators can earn $100,000 plus a year! 3
In addition to a regular paycheck, you may also be able to make money through various bonuses as a CDL-trained truck driver. Each carrier company is different, but could offer bonuses like:
- Monthly mileage – Some carriers pay their drivers extra when they hit company thresholds for miles. Earn money for driving the longer distances and earn extra pay just because you drove them with your company!
- Sign-on bonus – In order to attract new truck drivers, competing carriers will sometimes offer sign-on bonuses for drivers who choose their company. The amount differs from carrier-to-carrier and can be paid as a whole sum or through gradual payments.
- Fuel efficiency – By using various fuel-saving practices, you prove to your carrier that you are a cost-conscience truck driver. Carriers appreciate that, and many reward their drivers for cutting down on fuel.
- Safety pay – Carriers strive for safe driving and may even offer bonuses for proven safety out on the highways. Proving that you can safely drive a tractor-trailer means more than good business, it means saving lives!
- Layover pay – If you are inconvenienced or stalled in the delivery process, some carriers offer layover pay as a way of compensating truck drivers for the time lost.
- Clean DOT Inspections – Clean Department of Transportation inspections are good for both the driver and the company. Carriers know this, and many pay their truck drivers for clean inspections.
- Referrals – Having a friend sign up for your carrier company could lead to hefty bonuses. CDL-trained truck drivers are in high demand. and carriers are ready to pay for them!
While benefits are not direct money, they can be of great value to drivers. Before deciding on a carrier, you can determine if their benefits fit your preferred type of lifestyle. Benefits in trucking can include
- Paid vacation
- Paid sick time
- Medical and dental insurance
- Life insurance
- Job security
- Flexible schedules
- 401k retirement plans and more
CDL Training at Roadmaster
In order to become a CDL truck driver, you first need to pass your CDL exam. We can help you there. Roadmaster’s industry experts will work with you behind-the-wheel and in the classroom to make sure you have the skills needed to successfully obtain your Class A CDL.
Where can you start? Chat now with a Roadmaster representative or fill in the information below to get a conversation started. See options for CDL training and find a course schedule that fits your life! Discover what opportunities you have to make money as a CDL truck driver today!
- Covenant info supplied by 2016 Covenant Transport Student Program brochure
- wage info supplied by Werner Enterprises