Get Paid to Drive: How Much Does a Truck Driver Make?

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You’re on the open road, the wind darting through your hair.

You love traveling across the country, and you always have. But what makes this trip even more special than all of the others you’ve taken is the fact that you’re getting paid for it.

Welcome to the world of a truck driver.

If you’re considering becoming a truck driver, you’re not the only one. Research shows that there were more than 1.87 million truck driver jobs in 2016, and this field should witness 6% growth through 2026.

The question you may be asking, though, is, “How much does a truck driver make?”

Here’s a glimpse at what truck drivers earn, as well as how their pay is determined.

Let’s jump in!

How Much Does a Truck Driver Make? A Look at Per-Mile Pay

According to the United States Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay for truck drivers in 2017 was $20.42 an hour, or $42,480 a year.

However, unlike other jobs that have set salaries, truckers are typically paid a certain rate for each mile traveled, rather than for how many hours they work.

Truck drivers typically drive a couple thousand miles a week or more. Their odometers count their money for them, which makes it simpler for them to track their expected pay.

Note that some truck drivers are paid salaries or hourly wages, but they generally don’t get paid as much as drivers how are paid per mile do.

Before taking a truck driving job, be sure to calculate how much salary you’ll end up with after subtracting driver-related expenses, like bobtail insurance. (These facts can help you to understand the value of bobtail insurance.)

Types of Truck Driving Opportunities and Their Salaries

What’s great about the truck driving industry is that you have several kinds of driving opportunities depending on your interests and personal goals.

For instance, you can start out as a solo over-the-road driver. These types of drivers constitute a large portion of the truck driving workforce.

Solo drivers earn an average of $53,137 per year. As a solo driver, you have the freedom to select your carrier, which is a major benefit since various carriers offer different bonuses (more on bonuses later).

You can then become a truck driving trainer after years of experience if you enjoy working in both a driving and a teaching capacity. These individuals have an average salary of $53,361 per year.

Finally, you can become a truck driver owner-operator. This is ideal if you embrace the concept of operating your own company.

You can earn more money in the owner-operator role by eliminating the middleman and entering contracts with companies directly. You could even build your own driver fleet.

Truck driving owner-operators earn an average of $97,916 per year.

Earning Potential for Truck Drivers

The rates that truck drivers are paid vary based on their particular companies, their locations and their levels of experience.

Their pay may also differ depending on the types of materials they haul and the kind of driving they do. For instance, you can do hazmat, refrigerated or flatbed hauling.

Also, the demand is currently high for Class A licensed drivers, so if you enter this area, you can expect to get paid more than other drivers do.

Drivers can also boost their incomes by taking on assignments that demand lengthier driving distances. Furthermore, if you demonstrate your dependability and competency over time, you can expect to get paid more for your time.

Truck Driver Bonuses

As we mentioned earlier, along with receiving regular pay, truck drivers can capitalize on a wide range of bonus opportunities. Not all carriers offer the same types of bonuses, but here’s a look at some common bonuses to look out for.

First, many carriers offer sign-on bonuses to draw new drivers. These bonuses may be paid out either as gradual payments or whole sums.

In addition, some carriers offer monthly mileage bonuses to any truckers who reach the companies’ mile thresholds. In other words, the longer you drive with a company, the more bonuses you qualify for.

Another bonus to inquire about is the fuel efficiency bonus. If you employ practices focused on saving fuel, you demonstrate to your employer that you are cost conscious. Carriers appreciate this and thus might reward you for minimizing your fuel use.

Carriers also value safe driving, so don’t be surprised if they offer you a bonus for driving safely on the highway.

A layover bonus may additionally be available if you happen to be stalled or inconvenienced during the process of delivering products. This type of bonus is designed to compensate you for the time you lost.

Finally, let’s say that you end up getting clean transportation department inspections. Carriers push for this, so they may reward you for it.

Job Benefits

Benefits can certainly be difficult to translate into exact dollar figures. However, knowing what benefits various carriers offer can be hugely valuable to you as a truck driver.

Before you choose a carrier, make sure that its driver benefits suit your lifestyle. Here are some benefits to look for or ask about:

  • Retirement plans, such as 401Ks
  • Job security
  • Ride-along policies (where you can bring a family member, friend or pet)
  • Life insurance
  • Dental insurance
  • Medical insurance

Of course, you should make sure that your desired carrier provides paid vacation and sick time as well.

How We Can Help

In addition to answering the question, “How much does a truck driver make,” we offer a wide range of tips and advice for those who are interested in becoming truck driving entrepreneurs or owning businesses in other fields.

For instance, we offer advice related to marketing your company digitally and even managing your business finances more effectively.

Take a peek here to learn more about how you can achieve your business ownership goals and keep your bottom line strong in 2019 and beyond.

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