How much money does a truck driver make….. the million dollar question in ANY career! What are the truck driver salary rates in the U.S. and Canada for company drivers? How much can you REALLY earn as a trucker?
It can certainly be a difficult task to nail down, just what the going rate of pay is for a truck driving job. There are many factors which influence a driver’s salary.
This is certainly one of the most frequently asked questions by those considering pursuing a career as a trucker, and for those truckers already in a driving job, but looking for greener pastures.
Video: Truckers Deserve Fair Pay
For those already driving, it’s good to know if your earnings as a trucker are on par with the going rate for driving jobs.
However, it’s our opinion that for the most part, truck driving jobs nowadays, don’t pay as well as they should. When the number of hours worked, the working conditions, meal expenses and time away from home, are all factored in, many truckers find the salary rates, too low.
Truck Driver Salary – Average Pay Rates
**Range for new driver – few yrs experienced driver.
These wages are approximate, as there are numerous factors which influence these rates. For reference only.
Average for truck driver salary – company driver – under $50,000.
U.S. – Single Driver – Long Haul
Average company driver – ranges between $36,000 – $52,000
Canada – Single Driver – Long Haul
Canadian truck driver wages seem to be regionally driven, east coast provinces paying the lowest wages, while Montreal and some major western cities, pay higher rates on average.
How Trucker Earnings Are Calculated
Mostly, truck drivers in North America, are not paid a salary. Their earnings are structured around a mileage rate, with some jobs paying extra money for various other duties.
I personally don’t like this method, but it has unfortunately become the gold standard, here in North America. There’s sometimes extra money for freight pick ups, deliveries, border crossings, waiting/delay time, safety bonuses, maintenance bonuses etc. Some drivers are paid by the hour for local and city work.
In our research and studies, I was interested to learn that most companies indicated the company driver would get 10,000 miles per month, on average. 10,000 miles on average per month? Hmmmm…… nowadays, this can be a real challenge with the electronic log look system and the hours of service regs.
We also learned that it’s common for the driver to stay out on the road for 2-3 weeks at a time minimum, to earn the salary quoted and get the 10,000 miles in. The companies are attempting to keep the $$ attractive, but the time commitments of the driver are greater in order to make the same wage, due to the regs and e-logs, reducing the number of hours a driver can legally log. SAME $$ FOR MORE HOURS? Hmmm.
Truck Driver Salary – Influencing Factors
Keep in mind when researching truck driver salary rates, there are a number of variables that can influence the rates.
• Country: Where is the main terminal located?
• Type of freight (eg. general freight, produce hauler, hazmat, car hauler etc)
• OTR/long haul, short haul, dedicated, city work pay varying rates
• Individual trucking companies can vary a great deal
• Number of years driver experience
• Driver Performance (safety bonuses, other incentive programs)
Our experience has generally been….. most companies pay more or less the same…. their compensation packages are just done up with different packaging, which makes comparing rates, very tricky.
Truck Driver Tips: For The Best Money in Trucking Today
- HazMat, tanker work pays better than most, depending on the company
- Smaller, medium sized trucking companies (asset based)
- Carriers who rarely run ads for drivers in trucking publications
- Carriers with benefit packages. Some companies offer benefit packages, which are attractive, but check out the details to be certain it’s not overpriced if you are paying for it, or a portion of it. Not all benefit packages are cost effective for the trucker
- Gross vs Net Earnings -DO THE MATH!!! It really doesn’t matter what your gross pay is. More importantly, you need to know what is left in your pocket, after everyone else has snatched what they want. Factor in deductions such as income tax, pension, unemployment insurance, health benefit costs, etc.
- Stay away from percentage deals. It’s risky business and nearly always turns out to be a nightmare.
- Experienced drivers MAY make more money and are most attractive to SMART carriers.
– If you’ve found a carrier you’re happy with and stick around, many will give raises for years of service.
After 2 years, extra .01/mile (approx. $1000/yr) $82/month
After 3 years, extra .03/mile
After 5 years, extra .05/mile
Again, do the math. Don’t be fooled by a few cents extra per mile. Keep in mind as you earn this increase, the cost of living is most likely increasing more than your mileage rate….. par for the course in the trucking industry. So, really not all that attractive sometimes.
- Go for a decent hourly wage. Take an average weekly earnings and divide it by the number of hours you work in a week? What’s your hourly wage? Does this work for you? Then from your take home, deduct the cost of your meals.
(The driver also has personal expenses when on the road. The cost of meals can easily add up. Expenses can be claimed on tax returns, but the tax break doesn’t come close to compensating the driver, for the amount he spends. This really gouges the trucker’s earnings.)
Meals $20/day X 7 = $140 Deduct your meal expenses.
$800 (net) – $140 meals = $660 /week net
$660 week (net) = $9.42/ hour
However, in reality, you’re away in the truck, on the road, on the job for 168 hours in one week.
$800 = $3.57/hour (Now, how are you liking your job?)
Truck Driver Salary Rates to Increase: Not Just a Pipe Dream
North American trucking companies don’t pay drivers adequately, for time spent behind the wheel and away from home, along with considerable out-of-pocket expenses. As a result, there is a truck driver shortage in North America.
Trucking companies have not been clever enough to do anything about it, until recently. They’ve been unable to turn their heads away and ignore the problem any longer.
Now that the problem is very serious, some trucking companies are finally getting the message they can no longer pay peanuts to drivers. Low wages won’t attract drivers to fill the empty seats in their trucks.
However, the companies have been slow with increasing driver rates, and the trucker shortage problem continues to worsen.
Truck driver salary rates have failed to keep up with the cost of living increases and generally pay sub-optimal for the number of hours invested, and living conditions, and out of pocket expenses.
I believe, however, the tables are about to turn, in favour of the trucker. Carriers are finally realizing they have no choice, but to step up to the plate, and lay down more money for the truckers, in order to fill the tens of thousands of empty seats.
The time has come. It is slowly becoming a trucker’s market. And it’s damned well about time.