Truck Driver Salaries: How Much Can You Make?

Truck driving is a vital industry that keeps America moving. Without truck drivers, goods would not be transported from one location to another in a timely and efficient manner. However, the question of how much truck drivers make remains a mystery to many people. This is a valid concern, especially for those considering a career in this industry or those interested in comparing wages across different occupations. The answer to this question is not straightforward as several factors influence truck driver salaries. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore these factors and provide insights into how much you can expect to earn as a truck driver.

Factors that Affect Truck Driver Salaries

Experience Level

When it comes to truck driving salaries, experience level is one of the most important factors to consider. Generally, entry-level drivers with less than a year of experience earn less than experienced or senior drivers. However, even within these categories, there can be a significant range in salary based on specific skills and endorsements.

Entry-level drivers typically earn between $30,000 and $40,000 per year, depending on the type of trucking job and location. Local delivery drivers often earn slightly more than long-haul truckers due to the shorter driving distances and more predictable schedules.

Experienced drivers with several years of experience can earn significantly more, ranging from $50,000 to $70,000 per year. Experienced drivers are often sought after by companies due to their familiarity with the industry and proven track record of safe and efficient driving.

Senior drivers, those with 10 or more years of experience, can earn upwards of $80,000 per year. These drivers often have extensive knowledge of specialized equipment and routes, and may also serve as mentors for newer drivers.

However, it’s important to note that experience level is not the only factor that affects truck driver salaries. Location, type of job, and company size can also play a significant role in determining pay. Additionally, continuing education and specialized driving skills can increase earning potential regardless of experience level.

It’s clear that experience plays a crucial role in determining the salary for a truck driver. However, other factors such as endorsements, job type, and location should also be taken into consideration when evaluating potential earnings. If you’re interested in pursuing a career in trucking, it’s important to research the different options available and determine which path is the best fit for your goals and experience level.

Type of Trucking Job

Type of Trucking Job

One of the key factors that determine a truck driver’s salary is the type of job they have. There are several types of truck driving jobs available, each with its own unique set of requirements and opportunities for earning potential.

  1. Long-haul Trucker

Long-haul truckers are responsible for transporting goods over long distances, typically across state lines. These drivers spend most of their time on the road, often traveling for days or weeks at a time. Long-haul truckers are generally paid per mile, so the more miles they drive, the more money they can earn. However, this type of work requires a great deal of time away from home and family.

  1. Local Delivery Driver

Local delivery drivers, also known as route drivers, transport goods within a specific geographic area, such as a city or county. These drivers are typically home every night and have regular schedules. They may be paid hourly or based on the number of stops they make in a day. Local delivery drivers may also be responsible for loading and unloading their trucks, which can be physically demanding.

  1. Owner-Operator

An owner-operator is a truck driver who owns and operates their own trucking business. As an owner-operator, you have the freedom to choose your own loads, routes, and schedule. However, you are also responsible for all of the expenses associated with running your own business, including maintenance, insurance, and fuel costs. Owner-operators can earn significantly more than company drivers, but it requires a significant investment upfront.

In conclusion, the type of trucking job you choose will have a significant impact on your earning potential and quality of life. Consider your priorities and lifestyle when deciding which type of job is right for you.

Geographical Location

Geographical Location

The location where a truck driver works has a significant impact on their salary. The difference between the highest-paying and lowest-paying states for truck drivers can be substantial. Some of the factors that influence salaries based on geographical location include the cost of living, demand for drivers, and the type of driving job.


Each state has its own economy, cost of living, and regulations that affect the trucking industry. As a result, truck drivers’ salaries can vary significantly from one state to another. For instance, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average annual salary for a truck driver in Alaska is $56,250, while it’s just $40,940 in Mississippi. Other high-paying states for truck drivers include North Dakota, Massachusetts, and Wyoming.


In addition to state-level differences, cities within the same state can also have varying salaries for truck drivers. Larger metropolitan areas often have higher demand for truck drivers and may offer higher salaries. For example, the average annual salary for a truck driver in New York City is $57,630, compared to $45,280 in Syracuse, NY.

Rural vs. Urban Areas

Rural and urban areas can also impact truck driver salaries. In rural areas, there may be less demand for drivers, leading to lower salaries. However, some rural areas with limited access to transportation may offer higher salaries to attract drivers. Conversely, urban areas may have higher demand for drivers due to increased shipping and delivery needs, but the higher cost of living can offset those higher wages.

In conclusion, a truck driver’s geographical location plays a significant role in determining their salary. Drivers should research average salaries in their area and take into account the cost of living before choosing a job or considering relocation.

Company Size

Company Size

When it comes to truck driver salaries, the size of the company they work for can play a significant role. This is because different companies have varying budgets and structures, which can affect the amount of compensation they offer their employees. Here are some things to consider when evaluating the impact of company size on truck driver salaries:

Small-Sized Companies

Small-sized trucking companies typically have fewer than 100 employees. They may offer more personalized attention to their drivers, as well as a sense of family or community among employees. However, small companies may not be able to offer the same level of benefits and bonuses as larger companies due to limited budgets.

According to ZipRecruiter, the average truck driver salary at a small-sized company in the United States is around $58,000 per year.

Medium-Sized Companies

Medium-sized trucking companies typically have between 100 and 500 employees. They may offer a balance of personalized attention and resources that smaller companies cannot. Additionally, medium companies may offer more competitive benefits and bonuses than smaller companies.

According to Indeed, the average truck driver salary at a medium-sized company in the United States is around $74,000 per year.

Large-Sized Companies

Large-sized trucking companies typically have over 500 employees. They may have more structured processes and procedures in place, as well as a wider range of resources available to their employees. Additionally, large companies may offer generous benefits and bonuses to attract top talent.

According to PayScale, the average truck driver salary at a large-sized company in the United States is around $72,000 per year.

As you can see, the size of the company you work for can have a significant impact on your truck driver salary. It’s important to weigh the pros and cons of working at different sized companies and determine which one aligns best with your personal and professional goals.



As with any job, truck drivers are often compensated with a benefits package in addition to their base salary. Here are some of the common benefits that companies offer to their truck drivers:

Health Insurance

Many trucking companies offer health insurance plans to their employees. This can include coverage for medical, dental, and vision expenses for both the driver and their family members. The cost and quality of these plans can vary depending on the company size and location. However, it is important to note that not all trucking jobs come with health insurance benefits.

Retirement Plan

Some companies offer 401(k) or other retirement plans to their drivers. These plans can help drivers save for retirement and provide a source of income after they stop working. Companies may also offer matching contributions up to a certain percentage of the employee’s salary.

Paid Vacation

Paid vacation time is a benefit that many trucking companies offer to their drivers. The amount of vacation time given can vary depending on the company size and the driver’s experience level. Drivers may also be required to accrue vacation time before taking it.

Sick Leave

Sick leave is another common benefit offered to truck drivers. This allows drivers to take time off work if they become ill or injured without losing pay. The amount of sick leave given can vary depending on the company’s policies.

It is important to note that not all trucking companies offer the same benefits, and some may offer additional benefits beyond those listed above. When considering a job offer, it is essential to review the complete benefits package to fully understand the compensation being offered.



Truck drivers can earn more than just their base salary. Many companies offer bonuses for various reasons, including signing on with the company, meeting performance goals, and maintaining safe driving records. Here are some common types of bonuses that truck drivers may receive:

Sign-On Bonus

A sign-on bonus is a lump sum of money that is given to new hires as an incentive to join the company. This bonus is usually offered to experienced truck drivers who have a clean driving record. Sign-on bonuses can range from a few hundred to several thousand dollars.

Performance-Based Bonus

Performance-based bonuses are awarded to truck drivers who meet or exceed certain goals set by the company. These goals can include delivering a certain number of loads within a specified timeframe, maintaining a high level of customer satisfaction, or reducing fuel consumption. Performance-based bonuses can be paid out monthly, quarterly, or annually.

Safety Bonus

Safety bonuses are given to truck drivers who maintain an accident-free driving record. The bonus amount can vary based on the company’s policies, but it is usually a percentage of the driver’s base salary. Some companies also offer additional bonuses for completing safety training courses or participating in safety programs.

While bonuses can add up to a significant amount of extra income for truck drivers, it’s important to read the fine print. Some bonuses come with conditions or requirements that must be met before they can be paid out. For example, a sign-on bonus may not be paid until the driver has been with the company for a certain length of time. Before accepting a job offer, make sure to review the terms and conditions associated with any bonus programs.

In conclusion, bonuses are an excellent way for truck drivers to earn additional income. They can range from a sign-on bonus to safety bonuses and performance-based bonuses. However, it’s essential to understand the conditions and requirements associated with each bonus program before accepting a job offer.

Average Truck Driver Salaries in the United States

Average Truck Driver Salaries in the United States

Whether you’re just starting out as a truck driver or looking for a new job, it’s important to have a clear understanding of what you can expect to earn. The salary range for truck drivers can vary significantly based on several factors, including experience level, type of driving job, and geographical location.

Annual Salaries

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers in the United States was $45,260 as of May 2020. This means that half of all truck drivers in the country earned more than this amount, while the other half earned less.

In terms of the highest paid trucking jobs, OTR (over-the-road) truck drivers tend to earn more than local truck drivers due to the longer distances they travel. On average, OTR truck drivers can expect to earn an annual salary between $50,000 and $80,000, depending on their experience level and the type of cargo they transport.

Hourly Wages

While many trucking jobs are salaried positions, some drivers are paid by the hour. According to, the average hourly pay for a truck driver is $20.56, though this can vary depending on the driver’s experience and the company they work for.

OTR truck drivers who are paid hourly may also receive additional compensation for driving overnight or through busy cities, as well as for loading and unloading their cargo. Local truck drivers who are paid by the hour may also receive overtime pay for working long hours.

OTR vs. Local Truck Drivers

As mentioned earlier, OTR truck drivers tend to earn higher salaries than local truck drivers due to the nature of their job. OTR drivers typically spend several days or even weeks away from home, which can be a drawback for some people. However, this lifestyle can also be appealing for those who enjoy traveling and exploring new places.

On the other hand, local truck drivers typically work shorter hours and are able to return home each night. While their salaries may be lower than OTR drivers, they may have a better work-life balance and more time to spend with their families.

In conclusion, the average salary for a truck driver in the United States varies greatly depending on several factors. It’s important to consider your own preferences and lifestyle when choosing a type of driving job, as well as the potential earnings and benefits.

Tips to Increase Your Earning Potential as a Truck Driver

Tips to Increase Your Earning Potential as a Truck Driver

As a truck driver, there are several ways to boost your earning potential and take your career to the next level. Here are some tips:

Continuing Education

Continuing education is an excellent way to increase your earning potential. Many trucking companies offer training programs that can help you learn new skills and gain valuable experience. These programs can also lead to endorsements on your commercial driver’s license (CDL), which can open up new job opportunities and increase your salary.


Endorsements are additional certifications that allow you to operate specialized vehicles or carry specific types of cargo. For example, a hazardous materials endorsement (HME) can qualify you to transport dangerous goods, such as chemicals or explosives. Having endorsements on your CDL can make you more valuable to employers and increase your earning potential.

Specialized Driving Skills

Another way to increase your earning potential is to develop specialized driving skills. For instance, if you have experience driving in difficult weather conditions, you may be able to find work as a snowplow driver during the winter months. Similarly, if you have experience with oversized loads or heavy hauls, you may be able to earn more money by taking on these challenging jobs.


Finally, consider relocating to an area where truck drivers are in high demand. Some regions of the country, such as the Midwest and the South, have a higher demand for truck drivers than others. By moving to one of these areas, you may be able to find better-paying jobs and increase your overall earning potential.

In conclusion, by continuing your education, obtaining endorsements, developing specialized driving skills, and considering relocation, you can significantly increase your earning potential as a truck driver.
Truck driving is a profession that has been in existence for many years and has become an integral part of the American economy. The demand for truck drivers is high, and it is projected to grow in the coming years. However, the salaries of truck drivers vary depending on several factors such as experience level, type of job, geographical location, benefits, company size, and bonuses.

Based on our research, we found that the average salary of truck drivers in the United States ranges from $40,000 to $80,000 per year, with OTR truckers earning higher wages compared to local drivers. We also discussed various tips to increase your earning potential as a truck driver, such as continuing education, endorsements, specialized driving skills, and relocation.

In conclusion, being a truck driver can be a rewarding career path. With the right combination of experience, skills, and expertise, you can earn a good living while enjoying the freedom of the open road. We hope that this guide has provided valuable insights into how much truck drivers make and how to maximize your earning potential. Remember, the key to success is to stay informed and continuously strive to improve yourself as a professional driver.

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