How much do truck drivers make?

As with any occupation, the end goal is to earn a living. Considering becoming a professional truck driver obviously leads to the question . . . "How much is a truck driver's salary?"


First, you should understand that truck driving jobs are in high demand. It's this thriving industry which keeps our economy literally "moving." The trucking industry alone generates nearly $300 billion in revenue per year! As with anything, the response is not one simple answer.

There are different variables to take into account.

To begin, generally speaking, being a truck driver (on average) can earn from $30,000 - $40,000 per year. However, keep in mind that the amount also varies depending on what trucking company you work for. To break these numbers down from an hourly perspective, long distance truck drivers begin at approximately $15.00 per hour. In contrast, experienced truck drivers can earn upwards of $20.00 per hour. Keep in mind, however, that many long distance truck drivers get paid by the mile, not by the hour. For a visual perspective, please not the graph below regarding pay scale.


Pay Scale Photo

Reference: PayScale.com. Truck Driver Salaries: Owner Operator Trucking Jobs. Adam Phillabaum.. December 20, 2006. PayScale. 5/31/2012


Furthermore, the CDL license class you hold has a bearing on your earning potential, as well. For example, a Class C licensed driver can earn from $12 to $17 per hour, depending on experience level. A Class B licensed driver's salary can vary between $20K - $40K. Finally, a Class A licensed driver can earn up to $70K per year! Now, as shown, depending on the license class you're driving with can affect the amount of money you earn.


In addition, just as with varying licenses, not all truck driving jobs pay the same. Some pay much more than others. Below are a couple of the highest paying truck driving job opportunities:


• An Ice Road Truck Driver must endure driving a 414 mile route, three-quarters of which is just above the Arctic Circle. An ice road truck driver can earn a salary is $120,000+ for a three month season.


• A truck driver in Iraq pays very well; it's quite possible to earn between a $125,000 up to $250,000 salary per year. Hauling food and supplies to military bases is very dangerous, so as a truck driver, you must decide if the pay is worthwhile.


With this in mind, it's important to note that long distance truck drivers are federally regulated as to how many hours/miles one can drive on a given day. By law, a truck driver cannot exceed 11 hours (approximately 650 miles) in one day of traveling. However, before you starting adding dollar signs in your head, remember that there is an annoyance you're going to run into from time to time . . . TRAFFIC! So, you may drive for 11 hours, but you'll probably log in far fewer than 650 miles.


Now, there's an entirely new level of earning potential (regarding truck driving salaries) if you're able to be your own owner/operator. In this instance, you can realistically expect to earn anywhere from $100K - $150K, per year. Does this sound too good to be true? Well, it sort of is . . . since you must figure in a 50% operating cost expense. Therefore, cut that six figure salary in half. However, that still allows you to earn a decent amount of money. Additionally, there is another benefit to being an owner/operator. As an owner/operator, you can possibly receive a net-lease contract. In essence, this means the company you're driving for pays for your fuel, licensing, etc. In addition, you'll receive approximately 0.60 per mile. It's a very good deal, because it leaves the truck driver with few concerns; other than putting the miles in, on the road!


In addition to earning a decent truck driving salary, some companies even offer a benefit package including health insurance. To sweeten the deal, the trucking industry literally runs America! The United States alone carries in excess of 9 billion tons of cargo per year. In fact, nearly 70% of United States communities currently rely on the trucking industry for merchandise delivery.


As shown, the trucking industry is an imperative component to the day to day functioning of the United States. By becoming a truck driver, you can earn a good living, while taking part in a vital dimension of our economy!

Related Articles Choosing A Truck Driving School | How To Get A CDL | U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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