How Much Do Truck Drivers Make?

Truck Driver Job DescriptionTruck drivers transport goods from location to location. They drive a range of different size trucks, from heavy trucks, tractor-trailers, trucks modified to carry special items, and other large motor vehicles.

Most truck drivers who drive tractor-trailer trucks are long-haul drivers. They operate trucks with gross weights in excess of 26,000 lbs. These drivers travel intercity routes and much further distances, sometimes across several states.

Truck drivers need a certain licence type to drive trucks of different sizes and weight. They can apply for a Commercial Driver’s Licence by passing a written exam, and take a test to prove their proficiency handling a large truck.

Find out what steps you need to take in order to become a truck driver.

Truck Driver Salary

How much do truck drivers make? The average truck driver’s salary is taken by looking at the median recorded wage. The Bureau of Labor Statistics recorded a median wage of $43,680.

truck drivers salaryThis is a figure at the middle point of the amount half the workers earn more than, and half earn less then. It’s taken across the board for the whole of the US, so it’s worth remembering that salaries vary across different states.

A truck drivers starting salary is around $28,160. This is the figure that the lowest 10% in the profession earn less than. While the highest 10% earn more than $65,260. This reflects how wide the profession is with different industries, types of truck, experience, and level of qualifications.

Tractor-trailer and heavy truck drivers are often paid per how many miles they drive. Along with bonus payments for certain targets or goals. The type of cargo being transported can also have an effect on the rate of pay, with dangerous or hazardous goods offering higher pay.

Truck driver hours are regulated by the Federal Motor Carrier safety Administration. This is regulated to ensure drivers are not driving too many hours, making them tired and risking an increased chance of accident.

Drivers cannot work more than 14 hours without a long break. This is broken up into 11 hours driving and 3 hours loading and unloading goods. Drivers are also restricted to a maximum of 60 works work in 7 days, or 70 hours in 8 days. The drivers are responsible for logging all their hours, and can spread their hours over nights, days, weekends, and holiday.

Top 5 Paying States

FlagStateEmployment per 1000 JobsHourly mean wageAnnual mean wage
Alaska FlagAlaska8.88$26.00$54,070
North Dakota FlagNorth Dakota37.75$24.43$50,810
Wyomin FlagWyoming24.69$23.31$48,480
Massachusetts FlagMassachusetts6.85$23.06$47,970
New Jersey FlagNew Jersey10.58

Top Paying Industries

IndustryPercent of industry employmentHourly mean wageAnnual mean wage
Electrical Equipment and Component Manufacturing0.19$32.69$68,000
Wired Telecommunications Carriers0.01$29.91$62,220
Amusement and Recreation Industries 0.02$28.42$59,120
Couriers and Express Delivery Services5.16$28.20$58,660
Electric Power Distribution 0.10$27.21$56,590

Truck Driver Job Description

what do truck drivers doWhat do truck drivers do? Truck drivers are responsible for driving trucks and transporting goods. There are a range of key duties, and typically includes the following:

• Long-distance driving
• Be aware and responsible for following traffic laws
• Communicate with dispatchers
• Keep records and logs of their work
• Safety check their vehicle and report any faults
• Inspect and maintain their vehicle for smooth operation

Truck drivers use satellite tracking devices to help them plan their routes, and find the most direct routes. They are usually given the end location, and then are responsible for getting their on time.

A driver must be familiar with the types of roads they can use, and any they cannot. They have to plan their journey to incorporate their rest periods and allow for traffic. Some drivers do similar trips over and over and know their routes well. While others have new journeys every time they have some goods to transport.

It’s not uncommon for drivers to cross borders and drive into Mexico or Canada. So being able to travel to these countries and know the local laws is also important. There will be advice provided on these trips, but some travel awareness is a plus.

Some companies use two drivers in the truck. This means they can have less downtime by swapping drivers and sharing the driving. There will be an area for one person to sleep, while the other drives at night.

Throughout a truck drivers career they will typically transport a wide range of goods. This included hazardous material for a lot of drivers. Extra care needs to be taken, usually in the way of wearing protective equipment, driving slower, and extra safety equipment should an accident occur.

Some truck drivers go into business for themselves. Buying or leasing a truck and finding clients in need of drivers. These drivers are called owner-operators, and while they can earn more money doing this, they have all the administration tasks of a self-employed person.

Truck Driver Career Outlook

The outlook for truck drivers is expected to grow about as quickly as the average for all occupations. It’s forecast at 6% growth until 2026.

Demands for goods follow a similar pattern to the economy. As the economy improves, so does the demand for goods, and as a result the need for truck drivers to transport goods. In the US trucks are responsible for transporting most of the freight, so the growth is expected to follow the household spending.

Fuel prices rising can have a negative effect on growth. Companies look at alternative methods of transport when fuel is high, such as rail. Trucks are much more efficient at shorter distance however, and they have a lot more options in regards to routes.

Truck drivers that undertake proper training have more favourable employment opportunities. With the home-life sacrifices many long-haul drivers need to make there is often a demand for skilled long-haul drivers.

Truck Driver Salary by State

FlagStateEmployment per 1000 JobsHourly mean wageAnnual mean wage
Alabama FlagAlabama16.556$19.58$40,730
Alaska FlagAlaska8.878$26.00$54,070
Arizona FlagArizona9.017$19.51$40,580
Arkansas FlagArkansas29.003$17.47$36,350
California FlagCalifornia8.422$20.86$43,380
Colorado flagColorado10.767$21.44$44,600
Connecticut FlagConnecticut7.641$22.31$46,410
Delaware flagDelaware8.863$20.52$42,680
Florida FlagFlorida9.174$17.64$36,700
Georgia FlagGeorgia12.758$19.50$40,560
Hawaii FlagHawaii5.64$20.95$43,570
Idaho FlagIdaho19.233$17.91$37,250
Illinois FlagIllinois11.601$21.90$45,550
Indiana FlagIndiana16.778$20.37$42,360
Iowa FlagIowa24.733$19.93$41,450
Kansas FlagKansas14.514$19.91$41,410
Kentucky FlagKentucky15.462$19.33$40,220
Louisiana FlagLouisiana12.289$18.68$38,850
Maine FlagMaine15.631$18.14$37,720
Maryland FlagMaryland7.674$20.38$42,390
Massachusetts FlagMassachusetts6.851$23.06$47,970
Michigan FlagMichigan12.282$19.15$39,840
Minnesota FlagMinnesota12.317$20.65$42,960
Mississippi FlagMississippi20.335$18.65$38,790
Missouri FlagMissouri14.893$19.65$40,860
Montana FlagMontana14.51$21.19$44,070
Nebraska FlagNebraska27.655$20.28$42,180
Nevada FlagNevada8.159$22.55$46,900
New Hampshire FlagNew Hampshire10.662$19.53$40,620
New Jersey FlagNew Jersey10.582$22.66$47,120
New Mexico FlagNew Mexico11.892$19.62$40,810
New York FlagNew York6.15$22.41$46,610
North Carolina FlagNorth Carolina12.402$18.57$38,620
North Dakota FlagNorth Dakota37.751$24.43$50,810
Ohio FlagOhio12.856$20.13$41,870
Oklahoma FlagOklahoma15.433$19.31$40,150
Oregon FlagOregon12.671$19.34$40,230
Pennsylvania FlagPennsylvania12.84$20.80$43,260
Rhode Island FlagRhode Island5.975$19.77$41,130
South Carolina FlagSouth Carolina12.036$19.41$40,380
South Dakota FlagSouth Dakota18.46$18.70$38,900
Tennessee FlagTennessee17.68$19.75$41,080
Texas FlagTexas14.752$20.02$41,640
Utah FlagUtah15.942$21.15$43,990
Vermont FlagVermont12.904$20.21$42,040
Virginia FlagVirginia10.006$18.98$39,470
Washington FlagWashington10.371$21.19$44,070
West Virginia FlagWest Virginia15.796$18.00$37,430
Wisconsin FlagWisconsin16.892$19.94$41,480
Wyomin FlagWyoming24.686$23.31$48,480

Top paying metropolitan areas

AreaEmployment per 1000 jobsHourly mean wageAnnual mean wage
Peabody, – MA – NECTA Division6.68$27.52$57,250
Nassau / Suffolk, – NY – Metropolitan Division 6.98$26.80$55,750
Fairbanks, AK 19.73$26.61$55,340
Anchorage, AK 8.29$26.53$55,170
Casper, WY 22.28$26.13$54,350

Top paying nonmetropolitan areas

AreaEmployment per 1000 jobsHourly mean wageAnnual mean wage
West – Central – North Dakota – nonmetropolitan area51.34$27.08$56,320
Eastern Utah – nonmetropolitan area40.94$26.86$55,870
Far Western – North Dakota – nonmetropolitan area 88.32$25.94$53,950
Southeast Alaska – nonmetropolitan area 4.79$25.01$52,010
Nevada – nonmetropolitan area 30.42$24.84$51,660

Truck Driver Career Video

Noel Griffith, Ph.D.
Noel Griffith is a Doctor of Philosophy with a strong interest in educational research. He has been an editor-in-chief of since 2014. Noel is an avid reader (non-fiction), enjoys good food, live theatre, and helping others make wiser career decisions.

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