Truck drivers who drive tractor-trailers usually earn between $12 and $19 an hour. These drivers are usually paid by the mile. If drivers own their own trucks, they usually make between $20,000 and $50,000 per year, after they pay their expenses, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.


Drivers who work for local delivery companies usually earn between $8 and $15 per hour. These drivers are usually paid by the hour and get overtime if they work more than forty hours per week.



How much do truck drivers make?


As with any occupation, the end goal is to earn a living. Considering becoming a professional truck driver obviously leads to the question . . . "How much is a truck driver's salary?"


First, you should understand that truck driving jobs are in high demand. It's this thriving industry which keeps our economy literally "moving." The trucking industry alone generates nearly $300 billion in revenue per year! As with anything, the response is not one simple answer.


There are different variables to take into account.


To begin, generally speaking, being a truck driver (on average) can earn from $30,000 - $40,000 per year. However, keep in mind that the amount also varies depending on what trucking company you work for. To break these numbers down from an hourly perspective, long distance truck drivers begin at approximately $15.00 per hour. In contrast, experienced truck drivers can earn upwards of $20.00 per hour. Keep in mind, however, that many long distance truck drivers get paid by the mile, not by the hour. For a visual perspective, please not the graph below regarding pay scale. http://www.cb39.org/library/how-much-truck-drivers-make.html


Salary Range


The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the average annual income of long-haul truckers was $39,830 in May 2011. This annual income level translates to an average wage of $19.15 an hour. Workers in the top 10 percent of annual income made more than $58,440 a year, and workers in the bottom 10 percent earned under $24,880. Fifty percent of heavy truck and tractor-trailer drivers earned between $30,500 and $47,130 a year.


Top States


Bureau of Labor Statistics data show that long-haul truckers in Alaska led the occupation with $50,050 in average annual earnings in May 2011. Workers in Nevada ranked second with average annual earnings of $45,650, followed by workers in the District of Columbia at $45,290 a year and workers in Massachusetts at $45,240 a year. Texas employed the most heavy truckers of any state and drivers based in Texas earned $37,220 a year, on average.


Top Industries


Truckers work in several fields related to transportation and heavy industry and annual income can vary depending on a worker's chosen industry. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says that long-haul truckers involved in general freight trucking made $41,250 a year, on average, in May 2011, while workers engaged in specialized freight trucking made $39,260, on average. Drivers employed by grocery product merchants and wholesalers made $43,900, on average. Workers in the concrete and cement product business made $36,400, and truckers employed by specialty trade contractors made $36,830, on average.


Job Outlook


Economic growth is likely to drive consumer demand for goods and the need for the shipping of products across the country. The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects employment of heavy truck and trailer drivers to increase by 21 percent from 2010 to 2020. This growth rate is 7 percentage points higher than the expected national average for all jobs. Strong job growth should lead to favorable job prospects for new truckers.




Heavy and Tractor-trailer Truck Drivers

2012 Median Pay

$38,200 per year
$18.37 per hour

Entry-Level Education

Postsecondary non-degree award

Work Experience in a Related Occupation


On-the-job Training

Short-term on-the-job training

Number of Jobs, 2012


Job Outlook, 2012-22

11% (As fast as average)

Employment Change, 2012-22


2012 Median Pay

$38,200 per year
$18.37 per hour

Entry-Level Education

Postsecondary non-degree award

Work Experience in a Related Occupation


On-the-job Training

Short-term on-the-job training

Employment Change, 2012-22




What Heavy and Tractor-trailer Truck Drivers Do


Heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers transport goods from one location to another. Most tractor-trailer drivers are long-haul drivers and operate trucks whose gross vehicle weight (GVW) capacity—that is, the combined weight of the vehicle, passengers, and cargo—exceeds 26,000 pounds. These drivers deliver goods over intercity routes, sometimes spanning several states.


Work Environment


Working as a long-haul truck driver is a major lifestyle choice because these drivers can be away from home for days or weeks at a time.


How to Become a Heavy or Tractor-trailer Truck Driver


Heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers usually have a high school diploma and attend a professional truck-driving school. They must have a commercial driver’s license (CDL).




The median annual wage for heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers was $38,200 in May 2012.


Job Outlook


Employment of heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers is projected to grow 11 percent from 2012 to 2022, about as fast as the average of all occupations. As the economy grows, the demand for goods will increase, and more truck drivers will be needed to keep supply chains moving.


Similar Occupations


Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers with similar occupations.


More Information, Including Links to O*NET


Learn more about heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.


Truck Driver Salaries: Owner Operator Trucking Jobs

Adam Phillabaum, PayScale
Dec 20, 2006


"You know the difference between a fairy tale and a trucker tale? A fairy tale starts with: 'once upon a time...' and a trucker tale starts with: 'You're never going to believe this sh*t'...". - Don Floyd


Name: Don Floyd
Job Title: Long Distance Truck Driver/ Owner Operator Trucking
Where: Don's owner operator trucking job is based in Enid, OK
Truck Driver Salary: $66,000 = $0.60 per mile x 110,000 miles. See truckers cost per mile calculation below. (Owner operator trucking jobs typically pay more than just being a truck driver.)
Years of Experience: 31 years of truck driving experience, 10 years in owner operator trucking jobs


Truck Driver Salaries: Owner Operator Trucking Jobs


Job Description of a Truck Driver: To drive a truck with capacity of more than three tons to transport materials to specified destinations. In owner operator trucking jobs, the driver is also responsible for finding and scheduling loads.


We all wonder what it would be like. We've bought the little pieces of the puzzle, but we've never put it all together. What is it like to be a long distance truck driver? And what are the benefits and drawbacks of owner operator trucking jobs? I own a Pabst Blue Ribbon trucker hat. I own a 64 ounce thermos that is waiting to be filled with truck stop "high octane" coffee. I've driven 600 miles in a single day. But, there is still so much to learn about long distance truck drivers.


Salary Stories recently interviewed truck driver Don Floyd about his many years on the road. Don explained the job description of a truck driver, the differences between owner operator trucking jobs and other truck driver jobs, truck driver salaries, and just how much coffee it takes to keep a driver going. If you've ever dreamed of a life on the open road, keep reading!


Hourly Rate by Years Experience - Job: Truck Driver, Heavy / Tractor-Trailer (United States)


Median Hourly Rate by Years Experience - Job: Truck Driver, Heavy / Tractor-Trailer (United States)


Long distance truck driver salaries start at about $15.00 per hour, while experienced truck driver salaries can be upwards of $21.00 per hour (this salary chart has national median salaries). But most long-haul truck drivers don't get paid by the hour, they get paid by the mile. There are a couple types of truck driver employment options. You can be a company driver or there are also owner operator trucking jobs. Then there are even more options from there. With owner operator trucking jobs you can have a net-lease contract, where the company you're driving for pays for all of your gas and oil and licensing and everything else associated with driving a truck thousands of miles... and then they pay you about $0.60 per mile. The net-lease contract is particularly nice because you no longer have to worry about the truckers cost per mile calculation, because they're all paid by your employer.


How Many Hours Do Owner Operator Trucking Jobs require?


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The hours of a long distance truck driver are actually federally regulated. A truck driver can't work more than 18 hours in a day, 10 hours of which can be driving. If you figure on averaging 65 miles per hour, you would be driving 650 miles every day. But, that's if you were driving in your dreams. In the waking world, traffic exists.  Lots of it. Traffic is the bane of a truck driver's existence; so when you ask a trucker what their favorite state is, don't be surprised when they say Texas. It's big and its roads are empty.


What Else is There to Know about Owner Operator Trucking jobs? Is it really different from just being a long distance truck driver?


Doing either job requires a trucker to drink lots of coffee. A truck stop can go through 7 to 10 gallons of coffee in an 8 hour shift. If it's in the morning, it can be even more.


Does your salary need a lift? Find out with PayScale's Salary Calculator.


By Adam Phillabaum for PayScale Salary Stories



Trucking jobs available nation wide


NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- During tough economic times with high unemployment, Americans should be jumping at any chance to work, but trucking companies are struggling to hire drivers.


There are as many as 200,000 job openings nationwide for long haul truckers, according to David Heller, director of safety and policy for the Truckload Carriers Association.


The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics also sees the demand for truckers increasing, up from the 1.5 million drivers on the road now. It expects trucking to add 330,100 jobs between 2010 and 2020, an increase of 20%.


But these positions are difficult to fill, and even harder to keep filled.


"Nobody wants to drive a truck," said Heller.


The pay isn't bad: Truckers earn a median annual wage of $37,930, which is $4,000 more than the median wage for all jobs, according to the BLS. The top 10% of truck drivers make more than $58,000 per year.


So why do so many long-haul trucking jobs remain unfilled?


Related: 100 Best Companies to Work For


First, it's difficult to get certified. The biggest hurdle for the unemployed is getting a commercial driver's license. The training course to learn those skills can take up to eight weeks to complete and cost about $6,000.


"Drivers are put under intense scrutiny before they get into the industry, and for good reason," said Brett Aquila, trucker and creator of the blog TruckingTruth. "It's incredibly risky putting someone behind the wheel of an 80,000 pound truck with your company's name on it."


And when drivers do get on the road, they find the long-haul lifestyle isn't easy, living for weeks at a time in the cramped confines of the back of the truck.


"You have a gigantic culture shock when someone is suddenly living on the road in a space the size of a walk-in closet," said Aquila. "Then you have the pressure, the erratic sleep patterns, and the time away from home, family, and friends."


For these reasons, job turnover is high for truckers. At the same time, as the economy stages a gradual recovery, more new positions are becoming available.


0:00 /1:55June jobs report rides anemic trend


"When people start to spend more money, that means there's more freight to move," said Heller. "When shelves need to be stocked, trucks start rolling. There's not a thing you own that has not been on a truck at some point."


Several of the largest long haul trucking companies in the U.S. are hiring. Schneider National, J.B. Hunt Transport Services (JBHT), Swift Transportation (SWFT) and Werner Enterprises (WERN) are aggressively recruiting drivers on their web sites.

Derek Leathers, president and chief operating officer at Werner, said that his company has about 100 open long-haul truck driving positions. The current shortage of truckers has forced his company to work much harder than it used to in order to fill these positions, spending more money on advertising and additional recruiting staff.


Related: Oil rig workers make $100,000 per year


Werner is offering a $5,000 signing bonus for its "team driver" positions, where two drivers are together in one truck, working in shifts so that the truck can cover as much as 1,000 miles a day. The company also offers paid apprenticeships to veterans, hiring 35 of them per month. Werner and other trucking outfits tend to put a lot of emphasis on recruiting military veterans, since they have GI Bill funding available to them that will pay for trucking school.


Trucking can be good work, and even highly lucrative, but it will never be an easy choice, says Leo Wilkins, an independent long-haul trucker from St. Charles, Minn., who's been driving for 40 years.


Wilkins says he can gross up to $300,000 per year. After paying for fuel, insurance, truck payments and maintenance he can clear as much as $150,000 in take-home pay, as long as he spends most of his time on the highway, living in his customized sleeper.

"I stay out on the road for six weeks at a time," he said. "In this business, you can't be running home every weekend if you're going to make money." To top of page

First Published: July 24, 2012: 5:57 AM ET











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