How Much Can You Make as a Truck Driver?

Perhaps the biggest question posed by people who are thinking about entering the trucking industry, as well as those who have just started out, is, “How much money can I make as a truck driver?” Well, the answer is not as simple as you would think. Truck drivers can make anywhere from $55,000 per year on up to triple-digit figures.

While trucking salaries have a very wide range, the amount of money a driver makes hinges on important factors such as:

  • Experience
  • Geographic location
  • The type of shipments made
  • Contract vs full-time employment

How Experience Impacts a Trucker’s Salary

A new truck driver earns an average of about $55,000 in their first year on the road, with a low of around $37,000 and a cap of around $77,000, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The average salary does not account for any sign-on bonuses carriers might offer, or any other perks or incentives. Depending on the need for drivers in a given area or how much or a driver shortage the trucking industry is experiencing, the minimum average might increase in the near future.

Geographic Location and Trucker Salaries

Trucking salaries also differ greatly by state. In the Midwest and Southwest, truckers can earn salaries that are at, or above, average. Towns and cities are more spread out, so hauls are longer and require safe drivers with the endurance necessary to cover long distances. That region of the United States also has highly-valued commodities, such as agricultural products and oil, which demand high prices. The states along the East Coast have lower-than-average salaries for truckers. The reasons for this are twofold. First, those states have lower average per capita salaries, despite being home to major ports. Second, those areas have greater population densities, have treacherous mountains, or experience severe weather. Therefore, the insurance cost to carriers is higher, which can result in lower salaries for truckers.

Type of Shipments Can Influence Salaries for Truckers

Rates per mile and flat salaries can also vary depending on the hauls being made. Outside of the rush during the fourth quarter, drivers who make regular hauls for retail goods pay less than those truckers who specialize in hauling hazardous materials, for example. Remember, not all shipments are the same. Livestock, sensitive medical materials and equipment, oil and gas, certain raw materials, and more can drive up a trucker’s salary considerably.

Contract Vs. Full-Time Trucking Salaries

Full-time truckers can enjoy a steady salary with the benefits and protections that working for a carrier can offer. Independent owner-operators can earn many times more than full-time carrier employees, because owner-operators can take shipments that fall outside the regular operations of carriers. They can also take rush shipments and bolster the workforce when driver demand is high, without carriers needing to add them to insurance policies and all of the other added costs that come with full-time employees. However, the high salaries of owner-operators are offset because they have to provide their own vehicles, make their own repairs, purchase their own insurance, and a number of other costs that eat into revenue.

Staring Your Own Trucking Company

At some point, truck drivers and owner-operators think about launching their own trucking companies. Whether it’s the desire to earn more, or simply because they don’t like being on the road that much, starting a trucking company is a great way to increase revenue and create jobs. At Single Point Capital, we help truck drivers transition to business owners by helping them launch their own carrier companies. From making sure the proper forms and paperwork are in order, to insurance, cash flow solutions, and more, we can help you reach the next level in your trucking career. Contact Single Point Capital today to learn more.

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