How much is a long haul truck driver salary? This is the first question that pops up in the minds of those drivers who decide to pick up the hard job of OTR trucking, with its long trips, a life on the road, and long routes across the country. Although it may sound challenging, OTR driving can bring a sense of adventure and diversify your life, not to mention a good salary and company perks such as medical insurance, and for company drivers, bonuses for mileage and safe driving. Sounds good, eh? So, let’s move forward to discover the world of over-the-road trucking. Also read our article on the advantages of otr truck driving.
- What Determines the Long-Haul Truck Driver’s Salary?
- Potential Earnings by Specialization
- Average OTR Driver Pay
- Average OTR Truck Driver Salary by State
- Types of Added Performance Bonuses
What Determines the Long-Haul Truck Driver’s Salary?
First of all, to kick off a driving career in the United States, you need to go through a driving school and get a CDL license. According to Zippia.com, becoming a CDL driver can cost anywhere from $425 to $5,000, depending on the qualifications you need, with the average expense being around $3,500. You can either cover your training costs yourself or attend a company-sponsored course. In the latter case, you’ll have to stay with the company for an agreed period and have your tuition fees deducted from your salary.
There are specialized courses for OTR driving offered by many companies upon completion of the basic trucking school. A typical course includes learning from professional trainers, a road test, and eventually, solo driving practice. Successful completion of all stages will boost your career and potential income.
If you want to earn big bucks, you’ll need something more than even the best trucking school. Upon graduating, you’ll find yourself at the bottom of the salary range. According to Talent.com, be prepared to get a long haul trucking salary of $48,750 gross during your first year — we provide gross values here and going forward.However, if you’re ready to relocate or take on more complicated jobs, you’ll progress towards a higher level of income faster. With time, miles, and freight shipped, you will gain valuable experience and gradually reach the top. You’ll become a much-sought-after professional who can pick companies and jobs according to your personal preferences. By choosing this occupation, you’ll never stay jobless, even amid the tough times of recession.
Potential Earnings by Specialization
Solo drivers are virtually free to pick the companies, routes, and types of freight they want to see in their work lives. They may stay on the safe side by doing the same routes and receiving the same amount each month or take more challenging and profitable trips. If you are really good, you can expect to earn up to $81,500. That said, certain individuals manage to make as much as $81,249, according to Ziprecruiter.com.
A little ahead of solo are dedicated drivers with their top income level of $83,127, according to Ziprecruiter.com. Each of these drivers hauls the merchandise of a particular company. The company and the routes are the same; the chances to face high risks are quite low.
This is the stage that only the best drivers who are fully committed to their job and ready to pass on their experience reach. Trainers accompany newbie drivers on the road while they are going through the learning process. As far as the highest trainer salary levels are concerned, data varies by source. According to Salary.com, top earners can get as much as $84,814 per year.
This job involves a lot of risk as the customers need hazmat, tank, and oversized hauls. The freight is potentially dangerous, so you will need to be extra attentive on the road to get your well-deserved increased pay, with the highest figures reaching $83,272 according to Salary.com.
Sometimes, a company needs to haul freight over an incredibly large distance as fast as possible. A potential solution is team drivers who drive in turns and cover more miles in less time. Pay is determined by total mileage done and is split between the drivers. According to information posted on Ziprecruiter.com, top earners can reach a level of salary as high as $122,500 per year.
These are individual entrepreneurs who have their own trucks or entire transport fleets. They are not just drivers but businessmen who also handle their own maintenance, accounting, and other business-related tasks. ZipRecruiter indicates salaries as high as $400,000 and as low as $74,500.
Average OTR Driver Pay
Solo drivers in different categories typically earn a median of $81,249 per year as reported by Ziprecruiter.com, or $39 per hour and in the range from $78,000 (25th percentile) to $84,500 (75th percentile). The exact amount typically depends on the years of experience and the state (see reviews for various states in the section “Average OTR Truck Driver Salary by State” below).
For example, on the average, Solo OTR dry van drivers working with HMD get $1,625 per week, but a significant percentage of our drivers are hard workers and earn way above the company average.
It all depends on the company, but the national average long haul truck driver salary for this category is $64,000, according to ZipRecruiter. At Indeed.com, you can find offers of OTR driver pay per mile in the range of $0.56 to $0.75 CPM. Remember company perks too. In the section “Types of Added Performance Bonuses” below, you will find every possible benefit that will positively affect your take-home pay.
Salary.com states that the annual average OTR truck driver salary for this type of job ranges from $63,599 to $83,272. The CPM rate is not always applicable here due to the nature of the job, so we will indicate the average hourly rate of $30.69 taken from Ziprecruiter.com.
The range for specialized drivers can vary greatly depending on the freight type: hazmat, tanker or oversized hauls. For example, hazmat drivers can expect to get $54,793 to $90,123 per year, according to Salary.com.
Team drivers cover far more miles than their solo colleagues. However, they have to divide their earnings according to their personal contribution. The figures Ziprecruiter.com gives fall within the range $81,820/year, $1,573/week, or $6,818/month. The average weekly pay for OTR dry van and flatbed team company drivers working with HMD is $1,925 per driver or $96,250 per year, with some degree of variation. For example, flatbed drivers might get a little more than dry van drivers at the end of the day.
Weekly mileage and salary range of owner operators looks impressive: the average driver in this category makes $249,257 per year. Please note that HMD OTR owner operators can earn quite an attractive $233,800 per year, which results from an average weekly gross of $4,676.
Average OTR Truck Driver Salary by State
According to the most recent data available on Ziprecruiter.com, the job of a truck driver will be most lucrative in the state of Alaska, offering an average salary for OTR truck drivers of $88,236, whereas Florida is behind at $55,603. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to pack your luggage and leave Florida for Alaska or Oregon, where the attractive annual salary of $88,236 suggests this might be more than a holiday destination. When choosing a new location for work, you need to take into account other factors, such as the cost of living, fuel, mileage you can get, and the simple fact that different categories of drivers would still earn differently depending on the state.
If we look at the over the road truck driver salary alone, you will see that, according to Zippia.com, Washington offers the record-breaking $84,713, the average-leading South Carolina offers $68,217, and the worst for OTR is Hawaii with just $58,042.
The spread of the OTR driver salaries in other categories is also quite large.
According to Ziprecruiter.com, the highest-paying state for this job type is definitely Washington with $100,244. Compare that with just $62,962 for North Carolina.
According to the data on Ziprecruiter.com the highest-paying state for this job type is, as updated in October 2023, definitely Washington with $136,285. Compare that with just $89,154 for Arkansas.
The above trend also applies to the dedicated driver category. According to Ziprecruiter.com, Washington leads again with $92,689, and Arkansas offers the lowest figure at $41,594.
For this category, Ziprecruiter.com shows some deviation from the trend: Arkansas is still at the lower end of the spectrum with $64,465, however in the state of New York, hazmat and tanker drivers doing their tedious and risky jobs are expected to get the highest earnings at $98,052.
Owner operators’ salaries are considered to be the best, but you should remember the costs of fuel, truck maintenance, and utility services, let alone the time and effort to keep the documentation in order as required by laws. Certain companies, like HMD, do their best to compensate drivers for those expenditures by taking over most of the document work and paying certain bonuses like a fuel surcharge, which at the end of the day helps drivers to concentrate on their primary job and doing it well.
According to Ziprecruiter.com, the highest salary for owner operators is again in Oregon at $253,064 a year, and the lowest, in Florida at just $156,467.
The salaries of trainers also vary greatly from state to state, but they mostly depend on the qualifications, certifications, additional skills, and years of experience. So, we are not going to give any specific figures on that here, as these may not really be representative of the job.
Among all this variety, HMD is like an island of stability, offering equal employment terms and levels of pay to drivers from all states, although their guaranteed home time will obviously depend.
Types of Added Performance Bonuses
To earn this bonus, you have to exceed the mileage goals set by your company. There are several trade secrets to hitting more miles: plan your routes to avoid rush hours, load and unload early as the opportunity arises, don’t hesitate to reschedule your landings, and start looking for a parking spot for the night earlier than your usual bedtime. That way, you’ll be able to break records and put extra bucks in your pocket.
For instance, HMD offers a 5 CPM MVP bonus to its OTR flatbed solo/team drivers for reaching 10,000 miles per month (read more about flatbed truck driver salary in our article). OTR dry van drivers get a similar bonus, but in the form of a safety/production bonus as described below.
Drivers with a clean record are desirable for any company. Some companies will pay to ensure higher safe driving rates. So, if you drive certain mileage without accidents and abide by the rules, your pay per mile can increase.
Thus, HMD pays 10 CPM extra per month for each mile driven in that month to OTR solo dry van drivers and 5 CPM per mile to team OTR dry van drivers, if they reach a certain mileage with a clean safe driving record.
Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), employers must pay new hires for time spent in meetings, training, lectures, and other similar activities. Trucking companies follow suit, with the standard amount paid to the driver being around $100.
HMD pays $100 to its dry van drivers and $200, to flatbed drivers.
Many companies use this bonus type to attract professional drivers. The total sum varies depending on the company, reaching as much as $10,000 - $12,000. Don’t get swayed by big numbers easily, though. Certain fast and loose companies provide relatively big sign-on bonuses, but they pay less per mile than others who may offer smaller bonuses. As a result, in annual terms, you might end up losing money.
HMD also pays a $10,000 sign-on bonus to OTR dry van teams, which comes squarely together with a decent 77 CPM split.
Companies that follow the green agenda have started rewarding their staff for efficient fuel consumption. This is an example of a little effort benefitting all the parties involved and the planet at large. Some employers give an extra cent per mile to eco-friendly drivers, while others give them valuable rewards.
This bonus means the company is willing to pay for issues arising on the road that can delay timely arrival. It also refers to situations in which the driver is delayed by the shipper or the receiver. The compensation typically reaches $100 for every 24 hours lost, that is also what HMD offers its drivers. The paid period normally begins at 24 hours from the start of delay.
Clean DOT Inspections
Certain companies pay truckers for passing Department of Transportation inspections without issues. For example, HMD Trucking pays $100 for each smooth inspection.
We hope that you now have a clear understanding of all the figures that go toward determining a long haul driver salary. With that, you will definitely be able to find a decent job anywhere with a respectable company that does not tolerate fishy schemes and tries to avoid trucker turnover. We offer our drivers competitive salaries and a variety of bonuses to provide a higher standard of living. We value our employees and gladly welcome new team members.
Just take a look at the figures below and compare the rates with those offered by other trucking companies. It is as clear as two and two makes four that our basic rates combined with a variety of bonuses and superior trucks you will drive is a prime offer in the market!
By working with us, you get:
- as a dry van driver:
- solo: 60 CPM + 10 CPM safety/productivity bonus,
- team: 77 CPM split + 5 CPM safety/productivity bonus,
- as a flatbed driver: 65 CPM solo and 77 CPM split for teams + 5 CPM productivity,
- as hazmat/doubles teams: 81 CPM all miles paid + 5 CPM safety/productivity bonus;
- clean inspection bonus: $100,
- referral bonus: $2,000,
- and much more.
Do not hesitate to apply now by filling out the form below.