Getting paid is the bottom line reason for working any job and when you’re in a less than glamorous profession such as the trucking industry, how much you get paid can be a major factor in determining your choices along the way.
With the demand for truck drivers dramatically increasing over the last few years and expected to continue long into the future, trucking companies have been driving up their recruiting strategies to attract new drivers. As a result, many newbies have been lured into the industry with promises of six figure salaries and disillusions about the job itself. While truck driving is certainly among the most employable and lucrative professions in the US today, it is important to understand that a truck driver salary can range anywhere from $30K to $100K and upwards depending on the level of experience and the many different types of truck driving positions in the field.
According to a recent study conducted by the American Trucking Associations, the median truck driver salary is indeed higher than the national median for U.S. households. In fact, the study found that 7 of the 9 categories of truck driver salaries met or exceeded the U.S. median household income of just over $53,000 with private fleet drivers earning 58% higher than the industry average. However, being an independent Owner Operator essentially means taking on all the added responsibilities of being a small business owner and some truck drivers prefer the benefits and security that come with being employed by the larger carrier companies.
Whether you prefer to be a Company Driver or Owner Operator, there are many other variables that determine a truck driver’s salary as well. The good news is that many of these factors are ultimately choices that every truck driver has the power to decide - such as the type of truck you want to drive, the type of freight you carry, the distances of your routes and the companies you choose to drive for. It is also important to realize that while the ultimate goal is to make as much money as possible, truck drivers such as those with families find it worth a lot more to earn a little less money for more home time and regular schedules.
Before anyone decides to enter the field, it is important to realize that being a commercial truck driver entails a lot more than just driving a truck to make a quick buck. It means taking on the serious responsibility of putting yourself and other lives at risk and being able to handle a large and heavy vehicle on all types of roads in all types of weather. Although it is one of the few remaining professions that you can earn a decent salary without a college education, truck driving is a very safety orientated industry that requires very specific criteria of skills and special CDL training to even get started. The more safe miles you drive and the more specialty areas you train in, the more successful your career will be and the higher your truck driver salary will climb.