Truck Driver Compensation: What to Expect

Are you curious what a truck driver in the United States could earn? Are you currently a truck driver and wondering if you should be earning more? Fortunately, like all professional occupations in the U.S., there are detailed reports descriptions of what truck drivers are supposed to make. Common salaries do still vary a bit region and similar factors, but this provides a useful description of current norms.

General Average Salaries:

On average, truck drivers in the United States make between $38,000 and $45,000, as of 2013. These are salaries for the average driver involved in heavy freight, which typically weighs more than 3 tons. Beginning truck drivers involved in basic local work like tow trucks or dump trucks tend to earn on the low side of the spectrum, closer to $20,000. Company drivers that run special deliveries tend to make much more, edging over $50,000 or $60,000.

The Common Method – Pay by the Hour:

Hourly payments for truck drivers offer a popular payment method that is much like other types of wage structures. The familiarity is handy for everyone involved, and hourly rates range between $7 and $20 dollars, sometimes more. The devil is still in the details, however: The hourly rate often only applies to driving hours, not loading time and so forth. Fortunately, good driving companies compensate for stops, delay time, extra miles, and on-time deliveries that can all add up.


Paying by the Mile Over the Road:

Payment by the mile is very traditional for the truck driving industry. In many circumstances it is easier and more driver-friendly to pay by the mile, particularly for heavy freight drivers that operate on an interstate level and easily log in hundreds of miles on the highways. Pay averages around 0.30 to 0.40 cents per mile. Companies tend to add on a few cents for extra time. Again, stop and delay payments help even out the problems with this method of payment. Still, long distance driving offers more than urban driving using this method.

Key Factors – Experience, Records, and Unions:

Salaries depend on several important factors. According to, an experienced truck driver can add on $10,000 to $20,000 in expected salary. Experience is not easy to quantify, but a several years on the road should certainly make a mark. Your driving record is also very important. If you have plenty of experience and a great driving record, you can increase your salary up to $70,000 for the best companies and locations. You can also choose to specialize in a certain type of driver, from fuel and refrigeration to moving and cattle, which may also give your earnings a boost after experience. Please note, however, that truck driver unions may be in effect in certain states. Fortunately, although unions may prove difficult to enter their salary rates are often higher.


Truck drivers do get benefits – and sometimes very good benefits. Medical, dental, and vision are common for the best companies. Retirement plans like 401(k)s and similar investment options also show up on a regular basis.

George writes for Trucker Classifieds, the top source to find local trucking jobs and trucking company jobs.

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

George Pittman is a professional blogger that provides news and information for truck driving jobs and trucking companies.