Truck Driver Salary

While the nationwide truck driver shortage has led many to consider this growing career field, many are still curious about what kind of salary this job comes with. While many factors go in to determining an exact salary, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that truck drivers earn a median annual wage of $41,340. Once you have completed truck driving school and have a CDL in hand, your driving career could have you earning anywhere from $37,924 all the way up to $75,454 per year, according to Payscale. So, what goes into a truck driving salary? Read on for our comprehensive guide to what to expect, salary-wise, from a career in trucking.

How Much Does a Truck Driver Make?

While there are a variety of factors that go into any salary determination, the main considerations for truck driving salaries include:

Employer and Industry

The type of heavy truck driving you do, and the company you work for, will be major determining factors in how much money you can earn. Heavy truck and tractor-trailer drivers are typically paid per mile, and this rate can fluctuate from employer to employer. According to the latest BLS data (May 2016), the following industries are the highest paying for truck drivers:

  • General freight trucking
  • Specialized freight trucking
  • Wholesale trade
  • Manufacturing

Trucking companies may also give bonuses and other perks/incentives to their top drivers.

Location

Physical location will also affect salary, as the cost of living in certain cities/states will necessitate higher or lower wages. Some states, particularly those with major carrier hubs or higher demand, may also have a higher concentration of trucking jobs available. As of 2016, the BLS lists the following states as those who offer the highest trucking salaries:

  • North Dakota, with an annual mean wage of $53,720
  • Alaska, with an annual mean wage of $53,480
  • Massachusetts, with an annual mean wage of $49,920
  • Nevada, with an annual mean wage of $49,590
  • Washington, D.C., with an annual mean wage of $49,280

Experience Level

As you might expect, truck driver salary increases with years of experience. Truckers with specialized skills or training, and those who hold multiple endorsements, also have the potential to earn more. Experienced truck drivers may also decide to become self-employed or start their own trucking businesses. According to Payscale, entry-level truck drivers earn a median wage of $17.51 per hour, while experienced truck drivers earn a median hourly wage of $19.09, not including bonuses or profit-sharing proceeds.

Teams

Some truck drivers prefer to work in teams. This means that two drivers will travel together, splitting the driving duties (typically one will drive while the other sleeps, and vice versa…this is a popular arrangement for married couples). Teams are usually offered split pay, meaning that the per mile rate is split between the two drivers. For example, if the per mile rate for the truck is $0.50, each driver would earn $0.25 per mile. Split pay is something that should be considered before deciding to work as a team, though some teams enjoy the arrangement due to being able to get their load to its destination faster with two drivers at the ready, letting them get back on the road with another load more quickly.

Truck Driver Salary Per Hour

The exact per hour wage of truck drivers will vary from state to state, but the BLS reports the median hourly wage at $19.87. This does not include bonuses or incentives, which some trucking companies regularly offer to their employees. Due to the pay-per-mile nature of most trucking jobs, it stands to reason that the more a trucker can work, the more they can earn. However, it's important to remember that hours can be limited or capped due to "Hours of Service" rules. Some of the top-paying metropolitan areas include:

  • Bismarck, ND at an average of $27.08 per hour
  • Anchorage, AK at an average of $25.85 per hour
  • Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA at an average of $25.68 per hour
  • Casper, WY at an average of $25.19 per hour

Truck Driver Salary Table

Location 25th Percentile 75th Percentile Annual Salary
United States $31,270 $48,330 $38,700
Alabama $27,730 $45,440 $35,280
Alaska $43,960 $60,690 $52,840
Arizona $33,730 $47,260 $39,710
Arkansas $27,740 $42,370 $33,660
California $33,190 $50,780 $40,460
Colorado $34,120 $51,020 $42,080
Connecticut $35,870 $51,780 $43,150
Delaware $34,230 $51,590 $41,510
District of Columbia $39,790 $55,370 $45,890
Florida $27,530 $43,710 $34,440
Georgia $30,500 $49,860 $39,240
Hawaii $36,470 $49,220 $42,540
Idaho $28,450 $43,870 $35,260
Illinois $33,510 $55,890 $42,340
Indiana $31,720 $48,900 $38,470
Iowa $30,590 $48,120 $39,960
Kansas $29,790 $47,680 $37,770
Kentucky $28,780 $46,530 $36,370
Louisiana $30,690 $45,500 $36,750
Maine $28,150 $42,430 $34,520
Maryland $33,300 $48,670 $40,700
Massachusetts $38,810 $55,050 $44,950
Michigan $30,650 $45,880 $37,490
Minnesota $33,680 $49,270 $40,330
Mississippi $28,290 $45,250 $35,930
Missouri $29,270 $48,630 $38,580
Montana $32,550 $49,420 $39,430
Nebraska $30,780 $50,310 $40,350
Nevada $35,950 $52,970 $43,680
New Hampshire $32,360 $43,970 $36,970
New Jersey $35,940 $54,420 $43,860
New Mexico $31,060 $47,370 $37,820
New York $33,320 $55,200 $42,180
North Carolina $29,870 $45,920 $37,500
North Dakota $38,710 $54,890 $45,400
Ohio $30,770 $47,220 $37,720
Oklahoma $28,930 $46,330 $36,540
Oregon $32,770 $45,080 $37,580
Pennsylvania $33,410 $49,720 $40,780
Rhode Island $34,340 $49,160 $41,470
South Carolina $29,400 $46,230 $36,670
South Dakota $29,220 $43,440 $34,990
Tennessee $29,650 $48,170 $38,130
Texas $28,560 $46,730 $36,550
Utah $34,050 $50,830 $41,420
Vermont $31,590 $46,590 $37,260
Virginia $30,270 $45,140 $36,570
Washington $33,850 $49,200 $41,010
West Virginia $27,170 $41,440 $32,960
Wisconsin $31,940 $49,160 $39,120
Wyoming $36,350 $54,830 $44,180
Guam $22,650 $32,540 $27,240
Puerto Rico $16,730 $19,430 $18,060
Virgin Islands $24,690 $41,690 $29,620

Table data taken from 2015 BLS (http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes533032.htm)