The days of truckers being the unseen superheroes who keep things running smoothly in the world are long gone. With the ongoing supply chain shortages, trucking has become a very visible, as well as very prominent, profession throughout North America.
If you are considering a career as a truck driver, but are bogged down by the “how much does a truck driver make?” question, then this article is for you.
We’ll explore the socioeconomic relevance of trucking and logistics, and how each plays a part in determining the take home pay of drivers. Read on to discover truck driver earnings in the USA based on location, routes, experience, company size, and vehicle type.
- How Much Does a Truck Driver Make?
- Where Do Truck Drivers Earn More in the US (By States)?
- Salary of a Truck Driver by Trailer Type
- Salary of a Truck Driver by Route Type (Distance)
- Salary of a Truck Driver by Operating Mode
- Salary of a Truck Driver by Experience
- External Factors Affecting Salary
- How Much Does HMD Trucking Pay?
How much does a truck driver make?
Although some people claim that truck drivers earn the same across the United States, the reality remains that the salary of a truck driver depends on various internal and external factors.
What affects the salary of a truck driver?
First off, the driver’s location affects their earnings. As a general rule, companies in the West and South offer less money than those in other parts of the country. However, the wage disparity for OTR (“over-the-road,” or long-haul trucking) carriers is quite small regardless of which state they’re working in or based out of.
The routes you run also determine your salary. There is generally a difference in pay that corresponds to whether you are driving local, regional and OTR routes. OTR drivers earn more than regional drivers because they spend longer stretches of time away from home. Similarly, regional drivers make more money than local drivers, as regional drivers are often home on a weekly basis, whereas those driving local routes come home daily.
Alongside location and routes, the type of trailer makes a difference in the payment you receive. For example, dry van drivers earn less than reefer truckers, who in turn make more less than flatbed drivers.
Another important determining factor is the driver’s experience; truckers with little or no experience earn less than those with several years of experience. Partially due to the fact that сarriers also have to pay more in insurance when working with inexperienced drivers.
And company size determines your earnings as a driver. If you work for a small company, your wages could be higher than your contemporaries driving for prominent companies, because small companies are ready to quickly adjust to the market and increase driver pay. But there may be potential negatives to offset that positive: larger carriers may provide the stability of a consistent workload and an experienced management team, two things that smaller, more independent carriers simply might not be able to deliver.
How much does a truck driver make on average?
According to Indeed estimates (and keep in mind that estimates are just that — an estimation — and will therefore vary from week to week or month to month), the average salary breakdown of a truck driver in the United States is as follows (considering the 11-hour driving limit):
- $26.79 per hour.
- $306 per day.
- $1,474 per week.
- $5,705 per month.
- $80,583 per year.
Other benefits and bonuses may apply based on internal company policies or external factors like adverse weather or swings in the economy, greater demand because of supply chain issues, etc.
PPM method description (pay per mile)
Most truckers prefer charging for every mile because they see it as fair compensation for their services. However, the cents per mile (CPM) depends on the factors discussed earlier. Statista estimates the median CPM for truckers in 2020 at $0.57 per mile.
Where do truck drivers earn more in the US (by states)?
We’ve already talked about certain areas of the country being more pocket-friendly to truckers than others. Now let’s rank them per state based on CPM and annual income.
The best states for truck drivers
Seek Capital, a financial services firm that has helped over 500 companies start or grow their businesses, put together the following data set and chart geared specifically for the trucking industry. The chart has since been copied and pasted by other trucker pay websites as a reference point to help those understand wages at the state level in reference to non-trucking professions. Though it’s from 2019 (so pre-pandemic), and trucker wages fluctuate like anything else, keep in mind that — in large part due to the pandemic — the demand for qualified truckers has never been higher, and their pay never better.
Here are the best states for truck drivers in terms of annual income and CPM when compared to the average per capita income of those working non-trucking jobs in the same states. In other words, making $50K annually in Nevada is 20% higher than the average non-trucking job in that state, but that same $50K is 25% lower than the average per capita income in Connecticut. (The annual income figures come from Seek Capital, while the cents per mile statistics are Indeed estimates.)
Source: Seek Business Capital
|State||Annual income||CPM (for up to 3000
miles per week)
|Difference from the
state average earning
|$41,000||$0.46 - $0.51||18%|
|$45,000||$0.40 - $0.56||16.8%|
|$45,600||$0.39 - $0.54||16.7%|
|$44,000||$0.40 - $0.55||16.3%|
|$45,000||$0.43 - $0.60||16%|
|$44,500||$0.42 - $0.52||15.5%|
|$46,500||$0.38 - $0.52||13%|
|$42,000||$0.44 - $0.64||12%|
|$46,200||$0.41 - $0.59||11.7%|
Worst states for truck drivers
Check out the worst states for truck drivers in terms of annual income and cost per mile.
|State||Annual income||CPM (for up to 3000
miles per week)
|Difference from the
state average earning
|$52,000||$0.42 - $0.64||-26%|
|$50,000||$0.45 - $0.70||-25%|
|$43,000||$0.4 - $0.60||-18%|
|$49,000||$0.42 - $0.59||-17.9%|
|$51,000||$0.43 - $0.69||-17.85%|
|$48,000||$0.44 - $0.54||-15%|
|$47,500||$0.37 - $0.50||-14.6%|
|$50,500||$0.44 - $0.50||-12.5%|
|$41,500||$0.41 - $0.57||-10%|
|$45,000||$0.47 - $0.64||-9%|
Caveat: Again, it’s worth noting that the figures in this table don’t mean that these states are terrible for truck drivers; rather, these are just statistical projections to guide prospective truckers living in those states to make decisions with respect to the average salaries of non-trucking jobs.
And even when the figures for some states come across as lower than desired, keep in mind that a) it’s a generalization — statistics don’t mean wages that are set in stone, and b) good drivers make at least 25% to 30% more than what’s listed on the tables above. Keep reading to discover real-world examples of what we mean.
Salary of a truck driver by trailer type
There are different types of trucks and trailers used for commercial trucking. While the specs for a truck will likely center around performance, the differences in trailer type revolve around the application requirements. For example, some of them haul consumer goods and farm produce, while others focus on non-standard deliveries like harmful chemicals and mineral resources.
As a result, some truckers need special endorsements to haul these loads. With that in mind, the earnings of truck drivers differ based on the following:
Requiring special endorsement
A special endorsement is an addition to your regular commercial driver’s license (CDL), which allows you to carry specialized loads and earn more in the process.
An example here would be truckers tasked with moving nuclear waste from factories to dump sites — these drivers need special endorsements, which will also increase the income they receive for their services.
If you’ve ever seen a truck transporting hazardous materials and thought, “how much do hazmat truck drivers make for risking their lives?”, then this section is for you.
Hazmat trucks (H endorsement)
The cost per mile for hazmat driving ranges from $0.60 to $0.80. As for the hazmat trucker salary per year, drivers can clear between $68,750 and $100,000 per year, depending on their weekly workload. You’ll also need a TSA-issued HazMat endorsement to operate such trucks, which in turn helps you earn a better salary. Do you want to know how to get a hazmat endorsement? Read our article.
Doubles/Triples (T endorsement)
Acquiring this endorsement allows you to drive with more than one trailer attached. These are sometimes called “long-combination vehicles,” or LCVs, and, likewise, this qualification may be referred to as an LCV endorsement. The average double trailer truck driver salary range is $62,500 to $93,750 annually. The CPM could go from $0.50 to $0.75.
To get a T endorsement, you must take an additional written knowledge test that covers major areas of concern (like preventing two or three trailers from rolling over), as well as fully understanding how to couple and decouple trailers correctly. And getting this endorsement also provides opportunities to increase your salary.
Tankers (N endorsement)
Tank vehicles are designed to safely transport liquid or liquefied gaseous material. An N endorsement lets you operate a vehicle with either a permanent or temporary tank attached to it.
Drivers within this category need a CDL certification different from the regular hazmat endorsement. For drivers that complete over 2500 miles per week at $0.60 - $0.85 CPM, the average annual tanker truck driver salary is $75,000 - $106,250.
Hazmat and Tanker (X endorsement)
The “X” endorsement, which is also referred to as the Tanker/Hazmat Combo endorsement, allows you to operate tankers and other vehicles that carry hazardous materials after passing the compulsory knowledge test. These truckers transport harmful materials, so the commensurate earning per mile is $0.60 - $0.85. They also make around $68,750 - $106,250 annually.
Trucks without special endorsement
Flatbed truck driver salary
The average flatbed truck driver salary ranges between $80,000 and $90,000 yearly. The nationwide average salary per mile is $0.50- $0.60, which gives the weekly pay at around $1,250 - $1,500. That said, you should take into account that the majority of companies offer bonus pay for tarping and you can expect $200 - $350 extra weekly. Read this article to learn more about flatbed trucking.
Dry van driver salary
Dry van truckers receive around $60,000 to $65,000 per year and $1,200 - $1,300 weekly. The average dry van driver salary in CPM is $0.48 - $0.52, while the cost per day is around $250 - $270.
Refrigerated truck driver salary
Drivers who operate refrigerated trucks (reefers) transport perishable goods between states. The average reefer truck driver salary per year is around $65,000. In a week, a reefer driver could earn $1,300 when driving for $0.52 per mile.
Oversized load truck driver salary
If you transport heavy-duty equipment cross-country, you can expect an average annual oversize load truck driver salary of $118,750, which translates to about $2,375 per week or $0.95 per mile.
Salary of a truck driver by route type (distance)
The salary of a truck driver can also be determined by the type of route they usually drive, and how much the company they work for pays for those routes. Route classification generally breaks down into three groups: OTR (as mentioned above, this stands for “over-the-road,” or long-haul trucking); Regional, which means you’ll be driving primarily through one section of the country, like the Midwest or the Northeast Corridor; and Local, which is exactly what it sounds like — you’re far likelier to be back home daily.
OTR (over the road) driver salary
Over-the-road or long-haul truckers specialize in transporting freight across long distances, mostly between states and sometimes across borders. Based on recent estimates and extrapolations using a dry van driver salary, the average OTR truck driver salary in the United States is around $70,000 per year.
Depending on the load and driver experience, OTR truckers could earn up to $0.90 per mile, which roughly translates to $2,250 per week.
Regional truck driver salary
Truckers who run freight along regional routes earn slightly less than OTR drivers. According to ZipRecruiter, the average regional truck driver salary is $60,000 per year or $1,200 per week. Regional truck drivers make between $0.60 and $0.70 per mile.
How much do local truck drivers make?
Drivers who only deliver loads locally often don’t require additional endorsements. Glassdoor claims that local truckers often earn $50,000 annually without bonuses. That said, the average local truck driver salary per week is around $1000.
Salary of a truck driver by operating mode
Here are the standard operating models for truckers.
Solo truck driver’s salary
When you complete a trip alone, you are a solo driver. Riding solo can get lonely, especially on long trips. But on the bright side, you won’t have to share your earnings with another person.
The average solo truck driver salary per year is around $60,000 per year (gross).
Team truck drivers’ salary
Truckers can work in teams instead of going solo. In this operating model, you can partner with a spouse, friend, or colleague.
Team trucking operations often succeed better than solo operations because you'll be delivering your freight in half the time it would normally take. For two-person partnerships, the team drivers’ pay per mile is around $0.75 - $0.90 split.
Although most teams split the expenses and returns evenly, members can share earnings according to their initial contributions. Overall, the range of team truck drivers' salary hovers between $80K and $90K annually.
If you want to know if the job of a team truck driver is right for you, then read our article on what is team truck driving.
Solo owners often prefer a hands-on approach to the business, acting as operators and owners as well. The glaring drawback to this model is that transporting goods yourself limits your ability to focus on administrative tasks.
The owner-operator salary range for a trucker driving 500 miles daily is around $120K to $140K, excluding maintenance expenses. Since you are the direct negotiator for every job, your salary depends mostly on your preferences in routes, load type, etc.
Lease operator salary
According to Indeed, the average lease operator salary is difficult to calculate due to the massive disparity in job volume and distance covered. Nevertheless, the average pay hovers around $90K - $120K.
Salary of a truck driver by experience
Just like in any other industry, the more experience you have in the field, the more employers are willing to pay for your expertise. Let’s explain how your experience determines your CDL A driver salary.
Starter salary for CDL A drivers
Every new truck driver must start with entry-level wages and work their way up. Even if you already have CDL Class A certification, you cannot earn as much as someone with years of experience in the same field for the same operating model.
The average new truck driver salary in the United States is $40,000 annually. These newcomers can also charge $0.30 - $0.40 per mile in small companies, while larger corporations can pay up to $0.50 for every driven mile.
Experienced CDL A driver salary
With experience comes a better understanding of industry regulations. You’ll also figure out ways to maximize your earnings while staying within local, regional, and interstate driving limits.
Besides, having a proven track record of delivering for different companies gives you the leverage to negotiate better prices for yourself. And generally, experienced drivers have better commercial driving skills.
Based on market estimates, an experienced truck driver salary could reach $90K - $120K, depending on their location, routes, and endorsements. Although the average CPM is $0.55 - $0.75, some experienced drivers could raise their earnings up to $0.85 - $0.95 per mile.
External factors affecting salary
The average CDL A driver's salary often fluctuates within a predictable range. We’ve explored the main variables that determine the wages of any truck driver. However, external factors which can affect the total payment include the following:
- Border crossing: For drivers who get paid on an hourly basis, waiting at border crossings or customs adds to the overall cost of every job. Although some companies add additional fees to account for these border delays, it is often not enough to compensate for time wasted.
- Traffic: Trucks often have a 14-hour window to travel between states. But in places like California and New York, drivers often end up sitting in traffic jams longer than the overall estimated time of delivery.
- Weighing the load: When you work with a big company, agents and managers handle the weighing operations. But if you work with a small carrier, you’ll often need to double-check the load before departure and upon arrival, which cuts into the overall freight time.
- Safety checks: Before leaving on your trip, you must conduct safety checks (Pre-trip inspection) to ensure the load is in perfect shape. These routine checks are especially essential for hazmat and tanker trucks, considering the potential impacts of any mishap. In addition, you need to conduct these checks after any unprecedented incident on the road, such as skidding, collisions, and accidents.
- DOT inspections: The DOT agents will sometimes need to inspect your load before departure and upon arrival. These inspections often include re-weighing the shipment to make sure it tallies with the data on the manifest.
- Unloading and loading: While waiting for the client to load or unload, you’ll be accruing time but not necessarily income. This will affect your bottom line, as it’s still time away from home or earning more while driving.
- Repairs: When your truck experiences an issue, you might need to stop for repairs. Provided you report the incident to the manager as it occurs, you can get extra payment for such mishaps.
Other unforeseen circumstances can play significant roles in the amount of money you earn for every operation.
How much does HMD Trucking pay?
HMD Trucking is a company with over 20 years of experience in trucking logistics. At HMD Trucking, we care about our drivers and ensure they get fair wages for their work. We also maintain a favorable working environment without any form of discrimination based on race, gender, or ethnicity.
HMD Trucking offers
Here is a list of our fleet rates by potential earnings per week.
Local Dry van
At HMD Trucking, local drivers are home daily and have 50-55 working hours weekly, with Saturday optional. The rate is $27 per hour plus affordable benefits and a performance bonus. All combined it gives around $1,400 - $1,500 weekly ($70,000 - $75,000 annually).
Regional Dry van
Our drivers can earn up to $1,600 - $1,700 per week at the rate of $0.75 per mile. In general, the projected average earnings for our regional dry van drivers is $80,000 - $85,000 annually.
Our OTR drivers can earn as much as $0.60 CPM base plus $0.10 CPM safety/productivity bonus. At the same time, if you have endorsements we can offer you an additional $0.04 CPM while hauling hazmat loads. On average, Solo OTR drivers at HMD Trucking make $1,750 - $1,850 weekly, racking up between $87,500 - $92,500 in annual income.
OTR Flatbed Solo
The base rate here is $0.65 CPM but we pay $0.05 CPM extra if you’re ready to drive 9K+ miles monthly. Plus we offer a load pay. Plus driving a new and well-maintained Peterbilt 567. All in all our OTR Flatbed solo drivers can make around $1,900 - $2,000 weekly ($95,000 - $100,000 per year).
We’ve just added a team position to our Flatbed division. We offer 77 CPM base plus 5 CPM as an MVP bonus. And well-maintained Pete 567 and a load is still in place.
Teams make $0.77 CPM plus $0.05 CPM as a safety/productivity bonus. But teams can haul hazmat/doubles loads if they are endorsed and get additional $0.04 CPM as well. The average weekly miles is about 4500 to 5000, which results in $4,000 - $4,200 per team. Plus a $10,000 sign on bonus. All combined, this makes earning between $190K - $210K per year more than realistic.
We always strive to support those drivers who want to run their own business. That's why we have good lease opportunities with affordable downpayment and walk-away options. Plus 2 trucks to choose from: Peterbilt 567 in Flatbed and Peterbilt 579 in Dry van.
Choosing a trucking company to work for can be a challenge, especially for those taking their first steps into the world of trucking. Before choosing a carrier to work for, always consider the benefits they offer and the support system they provide for their drivers. Use this information to choose your route to reduce unknowns and earn as much as possible.
If you want to work with a company that cares about the driver’s overall health and wellbeing, HMD Trucking is the place for you. Our personalized approach to trucking makes us the favorite destination for drivers with at least 6 months of CDL A experience. Apply with us now to start your trucking adventure.