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How Much Money Do Truck Drivers Actually Make?

Anyone considering a professional career in truck driving has a number of important factors to keep in mind: “How often will I get home? What retirement plans are available? Which health insurance benefits are right for me?”

But the question most candidates ask first and foremost? “How much will I make?”

According to The Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for truck drivers in 2017 was $42,480, which breaks down to roughly $20.42 per hour. These numbers, however, aren’t hard and fast: 10% of these drivers made less than $27,510 a year, and another 10% made over $64,000. So if this is the same job we’re talking about here, what makes the salary range so vast and unpredictable?

You probably already know the answer: We’re not talking about the same job. Sure, the responsibilities are similar, but with each driver application that comes in, there are several different variables at play:

  • CDL - Does the applicant have his or her Commercial Driver’s License already, or will they need help obtaining it? For some trucking companies, not having a CDL on the front end is an absolute deal-breaker; others offer training opportunities that pay out a flat weekly rate.
  • Experience - If the applicant already has a CDL, how much time has he or she spent out on the road? Do they have more experience in long-haul trucking or regional/local deliveries? Drivers with extensive over-the-road experience are more likely to receive higher CPM rates, while rookies can expect their pay to run anywhere from 27 to 40 CPM.
  • Endorsements - Specialized driver endorsements (HazMat, doubles, triples, etc.) are not always needed for the job, but this kind of certification can give some applicants an advantage over others, which can lead to higher starting pay rates.
  • Driver Incentives - Most trucking companies offer opportunities for drivers to supplement base salaries through additional pay. For instance, some carriers will increase a driver’s CPM for every mile driven over a certain amount.

In the end, as the employer, you determine the actual salary. But if you really want to give your CDL driver recruiting practices an edge, it’s essential to know how trucking industry standards affect expectations when it comes to pay. Today’s drivers are in top demand - and they know it. So stay on top of carrier trends and stay competitive! It’s one of the surest ways to see a significant return on your driver retention efforts.

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