How much do truck drivers make?

March 16, 2021

Are you curious about the average income that truck drivers make? Well, a career in trucking will prove to be worthwhile if you're looking for a new career path or financial stability. Not many other jobs will allow you to reach financial stability in your life as quickly as truck driver earnings can. Also, a career in trucking is more accessible to all people because it requires CDL training from a truck driving school, instead of a college diploma. Trucking companies will even pay you training pay and offer sign-on bonuses as a way to encourage new drivers to join the industry.

How many jobs will give you all of this without paying any upfront tuition costs?

National average truck driver salary

So, how much does a truck driver earn? Four years ago, according to the BLS 2018 report (Bureau of Labor Statistics May), truck driver earnings were $43,000 a year or $825 per week. In 2019, those numbers moved to an average salary of $57,000, with a low of $37k and a top of $77k. Now, in 2022, the average truck driver's salary is $71,000, meaning a truck driver makes $1,365 per week on average. So from 2018 - 2022, truck driver earnings jumped 65% in 4 years! The average salary is rapidly going up and is expected to keep going up.

Factors that impact truck driver pay

An average truck driver's salary in the trucking industry can range a lot - as much as 35%! You've seen from the example above how much difference in pay can be between that of the highest-compensated and the least-paid truck driver. Many factors go into deciding how much a truck driver can make and bring home to the family.

Factors inside the driver's control

Some factors are in the driver's control such as education, experience, and job types such as regional drivers, team drivers, dedicated drivers, and high-risk professions such as ice road trucking. Learning about which job types pay better and working towards these will increase a truck driver's pay. For example, team drivers are two drivers in the same truck working together by taking turns behind the wheel instead of a dedicated driver that is assigned a specific route and truck. 

Location

Your location can have a big impact on your salary as a driver. New York, Alaska, and Mississippi are all known for offering higher salaries to truckers than other nearby states. But it's important to keep in mind that the cost of living in those locations can also be higher. The best locations offer both higher salaries and a low cost of living.

Experience

Just like any other job, experience plays a major factor in determining salary. As truckers gain more years on the road, they develop greater expertise in navigating routes, managing cargo, and handling unexpected challenges. This not only makes them more valuable to employers but also allows them to command higher salaries. 

Certification

A truck driver with specialized licenses and certifications earns more than those who only have a standard commercial license. A truck driver can earn different licenses and certifications which allow the truck driver to earn more, like hazmat and tanker certification or oversized loads. Truckers with these licenses and certifications can command significantly higher truck driver salaries. For example, reefer truck drivers haul shipments that must remain at a specific internal temperature. They are paid more because of their specialized knowledge and when the shipment requires extra attention. 

Distance

Distance traveled is a key factor in determining how much truckers can make. Long-haul loads usually pay more than short-haul loads. This is because long-haul loads are considered generally less desirable due to requiring more sacrifice and time away from home compared to short hauls. 

Factors outside the driver's control

Other factors are not as controllable by the driver such as location, starting pay, the amount of work available, and adverse weather conditions which would affect a driver's ability to work depending upon the type of work. To make as much money as possible as a truck driver, the goal is to minimize the factors that are outside of your control and work towards improving the factors that are inside of your control, such as miles driven, acquiring certifications, and passing your inspections.

Different ways that truck drivers can be paid

Truck driver salaries are usually paid by the mile, per hour, per day, or per trip. Truck drivers that get paid per mile can choose to make more by driving more. Usually, work that is done locally will pay by the hour. Companies will give their drivers a minimum pay for the day so that there is always consistency in their earnings. Drivers that are compensated per trip will usually have a set percentage of the trip’s revenue that is agreed upon with the company they are driving for.

Truckers that perform specialized work such as flatbeds, tankers, and hazmat will be some of the highest-paid truck drivers because of the need to haul either dangerous material which requires a hazmat endorsement or commodities that require extra attention. At MigWay, we stick to simple dry van shipments to reduce errors during transit and to allow for easier entry for new truck drivers to start working with us. Dry van loads allow for easy on-and-off loading and unloading, minimal time spent at shippers and receivers, and allows truck drivers to keep their attention on what's in front of them - the road and the drive to get to the final delivery.

How much does a truck driver make

How much does a truck driver make at Migway?

  • How much money can you make with a CDL at MigWay in 2022?

MigWay works with OTR drivers with a commercial driver's license (CDL), at least 2 years of experience, and a clean driving record. We start drivers off at .65 cents per mile (CPM) and give drivers an opportunity to consistently earn .70 cents per mile that they drive through a performance bonus. At .70 CPM, MigWay's company drivers are top performers which can be found in the highest-paid tier in the example we mentioned above. Though MigWay is based in North Carolina, our drivers live all over the states.

  • How much do truck drivers make a week at Migway?

A truck driver that plans to run 2,000 miles per week at .65 cents per mile will make around $67K. Our performance bonus allows experienced truck drivers to make an extra $7K. For our guys and gals that like to keep the wheels turning, let's say 3,000 miles a week at .70 cents per mile (with the performance bonus) which is $2,100 a week or $109k a year. To put this into perspective, driver-trainers on average are estimated to make around $80K, and working for Walmart as a delivery driver will earn you about the same as a driver-trainer would.

Our mission statement is to build a great company and to enrich the lives of our employees. Not just office and shop staff - but drivers! We pay them ultra-competitive rates towards their average OTR salary to show them that we care about our drivers and understand their sacrifices and commitment. So if you enjoy truck driving and the nature of the trucking lifestyle, reach out to recruiting to learn how working with MigWay could be the job opportunity that can help you get what you want out of life. Come see for yourself how our company drivers earn the annual salary of owner-operators, or independent contractors, that have their own equipment without all the headaches and hassles of repairs and bookkeeping.

Other pay incentives

Curious about how you can make good money as a truck driver? Truck driver salaries and bonuses earned on top of the truck driver salary, like referral bonuses, are continually increasing over the past few years to give truck drivers the option to choose how much they make. Companies are always creating ways to encourage people to start truck driving by offering help to earn money and find jobs. For example, due to the driver shortage companies like Werner Enterprises announced a driver pay package of over $20 million in 2021. Listed below you will find a few accessorials pays that trucking companies offer.

Referral Bonus

To give truckers more opportunities to earn more, trucking companies offer them more ways to earn than solely driving. Programs such as bonuses paid for referring new hires to work for the company are popular due to the current truck driver shortage in the trucking industry. When a driver refers their friends and family, MigWay pays a bonus of $2,000 over the first 6 months that a referred driver works.

Safety Bonus

Safety is paramount and a top priority for everyone in the industry - the driver, the dispatcher, and the CEO. Companies will offer safety bonuses that allow truckers to receive a bonus towards their pay if the driver can show that they are taking care of their equipment and following all rules and regulations set. On top of a safety bonus, we also pay our drivers for passing inspections - up to $300 per instance! This is to ensure that our drivers have no reason to be anxious about the status of their equipment and log books during an inspection.

Performance Bonus

The performance bonus gives truckers an extra incentive to reach a goal set with the company on a certain amount of miles to hit that week or a monthly mileage bonus. Not only is this good for the truck driver's pay but it also gives drivers a goal to strive for and a feeling of accomplishment when they meet that goal.

Fuel Efficiency Bonus

Many companies offer bonuses based on how much fuel a driver uses per mile. By implementing simple practices, truck drivers can not only earn more money but also benefit their company and the environment. Simple practices such as limiting idling time, avoiding sudden acceleration and braking, and keeping their tires properly inflated.

Detention Pay

Since truck drivers have to wait at shippers and receivers for their cargo to be loaded and unloaded, this eats into the precious time they can be driving and earning. While this is an inevitable part of the job, it's only fair that truckers receive compensation for this waiting time. Though it isn't an extra way to make money, it does help to alleviate the cost of the driver's downtime while waiting to be loaded and unloaded.

Layover Pay

When unexpected events occur, layover pay helps to mitigate any financial strain for the driver. This pay kicks in whenever the driver is unable to drive for reasons beyond their control, such as a truck breakdown or an issue with their shipment. While it may not make up for the inconvenience of being stuck while out on the road, it offers drivers some peace of mind knowing that they will be paid for the day of work.

volvo truck

Here at MigWay

The beauty of the truck driver position is that a truck driver's career path is not restricted to making money on the road indefinitely. Having a love for trucks or enjoying the nature of the work can help truck drivers earn more money by becoming driver-trainers and educating new drivers later on in their careers. A truck driver can choose to become an owner-operator or independent contractor, choosing which routes, loads, and hours you drive can set you on the path of buying your own truck, doing business for yourself instead of a single company, and being one of the highest-paid truck drivers - an owner-operator! There are many mega-carriers in trucking that started their operations with one truck, just like MigWay out of North Carolina!

If you asked us, we would tell you that we believe that driving a truck as a career path for your future is an incredibly wise decision. With pay depending on your performance, different directions for growth, rising demand for good drivers, and little barrier for entry, the trucking industry can be a home to many people who are unaware of all that it is able to provide them and their families.

 

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