Many people look into a professional truck driving career with 2 big questions: 1) How much do truck drivers make? And 2) Are there things you can do to earn more money as a truck driver?
According to a recent survey from Indeed.com, the average annual salary for truck drivers is $66,196 per year in the United States. There are many factors that determine how much truck drivers make annually. How much an individual driver makes depends on several factors:
- The type of driving job
- Years of experience
- Bonuses and incentives
- Certifications and endorsements
- Niche or specialty hauling
Truck Driver Base Pay
The most common method for a trucker’s base pay is based on cents per-mile. Pay per mile is the most common in the industry because it allows for flexibility and efficiency while still equating to a good wage and many companies pay drivers weekly.
Regional drivers operate in a specific part of the country. Regional jobs usually allow the driver to get home every week or every 2 weeks. Regional driving pays on average $0.37 to $0.55 per mile meaning you could earn between $727 and $1,081 per week ($37,840 – $56,249 per year).
Solo over-the-road (OTR) drivers work in the continental US and may cross into Canada or Mexico. The average pay per mile for OTR drivers is $0.44 – $0.55 which means you could take home between $865 and $1,081 per week or more in just your first year of driving ($44,999- $56,212 per year).
A dedicated driver that focuses on deliveries for a single company enjoys consistency with a specific route and also enjoys more home time. The average pay for dedicated drivers can range from $0.58 to $0.78 per mile providing an income average range of $1,140 up to $1,538 per week or more ($60,000 – $80,000 per year).
A driver team is two drivers who drive in shifts while the other rests. Team drivers earn an average of $0.48 – $0.75 per mile and can see up to $1,923 per week all the way to $2,884 per week ($100,000 to $150,000 per year). Find out more about team driving here.
Driver pay can vary quite a bit between companies. Look for employers who have been in the business for a long time and have a proven history of paying well and respecting their drivers. Werner Enterprises has been in business for over 65 years and was started by one driver who took one truck and turned it into over 8,000 trucks. Take a look at Werner’s pay and extra advantages:
Werner Driver Base Pay
- Average$75k – $85k annually*
- Top performers earn$90k – $100k annually*
- $1,000 – $1,350guaranteed weekly pay on select accounts across the country
- Team drivers each earn $73k – $80k+ annually*
- Up to$7,000 Sign-On Bonus Paid in weekly increments*
- Over 200 home time and pay packages to choose from
- Top of the line, brand new equipment
- Relocation bonus programs on select accounts
Find out more about Werner’s pay packages here.
Incentives and bonuses
In today’s competitive driver market, many companies are offering incentives and guaranteed weekly pay. For example, Werner Enterprises offers sign on pay ranging from $2,500 – $7,000 and guaranteed weekly pay from $1,000 – $1,350 per week depending on the account. In early 2021, Werner announced a driver pay package increase totaling over $20 million. Solo van drivers saw increases equating to an extra $3,500 per year and teams earned an extra $8,000 per year.
Company drivers may get other compensation. When considering a company to drive for, be sure to ask about the full compensation package. Companies with solid compensation packages can save you money on health insurance and earn you great money for your retirement. For example, Werner Enterprises professional truck drivers receive the following benefits:
- $15,000 tuition reimbursementis available for those who qualify
- Rider and pet-friendly
- Health, dental and vision insurance
- Life insurance and disability
- Industry-leading 401(k) retirement plan
- HSA and health programs
- Paid tolls and fuel cards
- Military skills test waiver
- Elite veteran driver program
- Top employer for military veterans
- Team matching program
- Industry-leading miles
- Employee stock purchase plan
Find available jobs at Werner here.
Endorsements and Certifications
These additional levels of training can also increase a truck driver’s pay.
Depending on the company, drivers may earn a few more cents per mile with a HAZMAT endorsement. Some companies may even pay more even for non-HAZMAT loads.
Hauling bulk liquids comes with its own set of challenges. For example, a tank trailer that’s only partially loaded surges with the truck’s movement. This can be difficult when stopping at a traffic light, for example. It surges again when the truck starts moving. Having specialty tanker training is valuable for an employer and will lead to an increase in pay.
A load that is taller than 13′ 6″ or wider than 8’6″ requires a permit and typically pays more than a standard-sized load. Some items that might need oversize permits include:
- Parts for the aerospace industry
- Heavy farm, construction, or military equipment
- Bridge beams
- Water vessel parts
As you can see, there are opportunities to make good money in trucking. Even new drivers can earn a great salary right out of the gate. If you are a military veteran looking for your next career, some companies offer special incentives to help get you started. Read more about Werner’s opportunities for veterans on their Truck Driving Jobs for Veterans page. With a year or two of experience, the opportunities keep getting better. Check out Werner’s Professional Truck Drivers web page to learn more about becoming a well-paid trucker. If you are considering becoming a truck driver, find out how to get your CDL and how to start your career by visiting Werner’s page on how to Start Your Truck Driving Career.
*Driver compensations change, to find out the most up-to-date pay packages visit Werner’s Driver Jobs page.