Updated July 2021
As you consider starting a new career in trucking, income is an important factor to think about. Exactly how much money can you expect to earn in your first year as a driver? How much will your salary increase throughout your career as you gain experience? What benefits can you expect to receive in the trucking industry? Find answers to all your questions so you’re prepared for your new career! Understanding your options will give you realistic expectations going into the field.
What is the Average Salary of a Truck Driver?
It is a very common practice in the trucking industry for new truck drivers to spend their first year as over-the-road (OTR) drivers. This helps them gain valuable experience in the field, opening doors to new job opportunities. A new OTR driver can expect to earn about $58,000 annual salary starting out. The average pay per hour for a new truck driver breaks down to be about $28 per hour.
The nice thing about trucking is that your salary can steadily increase as you gain more driving experience. Drivers can quickly reach $65,000+ annual salary after they’ve spent some time behind the wheel. There are also opportunities within the industry to earn even more in executive positions. You may be able to make more than $100,000+ in select positions as a fleet manager or another company leader.
How Often Do You Get to Go Home?
Since it is common for first-year truck drivers to work in OTR positions, new drivers should expect to spend a lot of time away from home when they’re just starting out. In an OTR job, you’re going to be out on the road for about 4-5 weeks at a time, coming home for about a week in between routes to recuperate. While OTR drivers are away from home a lot, many companies will do their best to work with you if you request to be home for specific dates ahead of time.
Home time will vary depending on where you work and your level of experience. As a more experienced driver, your job options will be wide open. You may find a company that rarely requires you to spend time away from home. Whether it be short 2-3 day trips with home time in between or a local driving job that allows you to be home nightly, there are plenty of options available.
What Benefits Do Truck Drivers Get?
In addition to a high salary potential, becoming a truck driver also comes along with a host of other benefits. Truck drivers get some of the best benefits packages when compared to other professions today. In an industry where many companies have cut or even eliminated most benefits to save money, most carriers still offer good benefits to encourage people to get into the trucking industry.
A few of these benefits include:
- Financial bonus incentives for meeting performance milestones
- Sign-on Bonuses
- Reimbursement for CDL training
- 401(k) investments with carrier match
- Complete Healthcare Coverage (including Dental, Medical, and Vision coverage)
- Paid vacation time
A great starting salary and a valuable benefits package allow you to make a good living in a job with high demand. There are currently about ~52,000 job openings throughout the US. Additionally, the industry is predicted to grow at a steady 2.5% per year for the next few years as even more jobs return and the economy moves on from the pandemic. Demand has never been higher! The time to join trucking is now!
Post-Covid Trucking Industry
The trucking industry has an added step before it can begin to recover from its driver shortage, that being CDL training. Many potential drivers need to be able to make money as soon as possible and don’t have time to go through the CDL training process. To try and draw in many new drivers, companies have added additional benefits that make going through training worth the time that drivers could be spending doing other jobs. Some of these benefits include:
- Increased pay to attract new drivers
- More payable hours (Loading/Unloading, waiting hours… etc)
- Truck drivers have gained more appreciation for the work they do.
- Carriers have made the investment to prioritize safety and quality of life for professional truck drivers.
- Adoption of new policies to improve training
These are just some of the changes that are being made in the trucking industry to try and recover in a post-Covid world.
Ready to take the first step towards your new career in trucking? DriveCo CDL Learning Center can get you trained and ready for your new career in just 4 weeks! For further information on truck driving and getting your CDL, please feel free to contact us!