My take on a truck driving career is this.
If you’re going to pursue a truck driving career and make the sacrifices, especially running OTR (long haul) or short haul driving, you might as well make the best money out there.
The sacrifices and stresses of a driving career are plentiful.
It’s a job that deserves decent pay for all the gruelling, long hours behind the wheel, often many thousands of miles away from home.
Usually, the high paying truck driver jobs are found in what’s called a ‘niche market’. A niche market is a specialized segment in the trucking industry.
The work involved in specialized niches in trucking is often a little out of the ordinary. It often involves expensive, specialized equipment and experienced, skilled and top notch specially trained drivers.
And that’s where the higher wages for the driving positions come in.
Often these specialty niche jobs come with varying degrees of risk and danger involved
The high paying truck driver jobs in these specialized areas of trucking are sometimes driving jobs that not many truckers are attracted to for various reasons.
Make it your business to KNOW where the $$ is.”
What Do I Need to Qualify For The High Paying Truck Driver Jobs?
To make a higher wage as a truck driver, more experienced drivers are preferred and a more complex skill set is required, more so than the average truck driver who hauls for example dry freight loads on a van trailer.
- Greater risks – Willing to take greater risks. Jobs have higher degree of danger involved.
- More liability – With greater risk, comes more liability.
- Higher skill level – A more complex skill set required specific to the specialized niche.
- Accident/incident free – A clean driving record.
- Driving experience – Companies often demand more experienced truck drivers with 5+ years successful CDL experience with no incidents on their driving record.
- Working in remote areas. Some truck driving jobs demands working in a remote or sparsely populated area.
The cost of living for truckers in such an area could be considerably higher, too, if the work requires that the driver live in the area where the job is.
The Highest Paying Truck Driver Jobs – The Most Lucrative Markets
Walmart is just one example of a company with its own fleet of trucks. They offer one of the best paying truck driving jobs in the U.S. Their rate of pay for a company truck driver ranges from around $70,000-$85,000 US per year.
Walmart’s private fleet requires a nice clean driving history (no preventable accidents, minimal moving violations, no serious violations etc), clean criminal check, as does any company which offer a high paying driving job.
The expectations are higher than most companies, but in return, they pay a higher than average salary.
Ice Road Trucking Jobs
Ice road trucking jobs can earn drivers anywhere from $20,000 – $75,000 for a few months work. Also since the tv show has glorified these jobs, it’s become increasing difficult to secure one.
There are many job challenges and dangers involved in a driving job in the ice roads, such as extreme temperatures, excessive winter storms and poor road conditions.
Hauling hazardous products such as gasoline and a variety of caustic and explosive liquid materials, offers good pay for the work.
Driving jobs hauling hazmat materials tend to pay well above the average driving wage.
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The driver is no only hauling dangerous goods, but they sometimes are exposed to chemical fumes when piping off hazardous chemicals.
There are trucking companies which specialize in hauling over-sized load hauls.
Specialty Car Haulers
There are a few carriers which have a high level of expertise at hauling very expensive and vintage cars. The trailers are enclosed. It takes a very patient driver and one who is meticulous when handling the high dollar cargo.
Mining Industry – Dump Trucks
Some mining companies that work those ‘behemoth dump trucks’, offer good wages for these trucking job. Some mines in Australia for example, employ truckers who bring in $100,000 + in wages annually.
Some teams do very well financially. It’s often thought that driving as a team is the fast and easy way to be a rich truck driver and because it’s one of the highest paying trucking jobs.
One of the problems with teams, is that the drivers often suffer from burn out and although the schedule is technically legal, the drivers are unable to keep up the hectic, stressful schedule for extended periods of time.
The rate of pay and number of miles presented by the carrier always sounds appealing. However, loading delays and bad weather cut down on the miles for teams.
Husband and wife teams can do very well, if both are drivers. They can live on the road for long periods if necessary and have no obligations for home time.
The success of a team depends on many variables including the ability of the trucking company they are working for, to schedule their loads efficiently.
Owner Operator Jobs
Either an owner operator leased to a trucking company (NOT TO BE CONFUSED WITH A LEASE OPERATOR) or an independent owner operator, can earn a good living.
Although owner operator jobs can be high paying truck driver jobs, there’s much more risk and responsibility tied up in truck ownership.
However, the pay off can be profitable, if it’s done correctly and operated as a true business.
Unionized truck drivers make better wages than the average driver. Unions set a standardized rate of pay and drivers are paid for all the work they do.
There are usually standard of living raises built into the salary packages for a union driver, thus their wages are a cut above the average truck driver who’s wages are not indexed with the cost of living.
Seek Out the Higher Paying Trucking Jobs
Make it a point to look for the higher paying truck driving jobs. They are out there, but the trucking companies won’t come knocking on YOUR door.
It’s up to you to make a point to look into the 9 niches we’ve mentioned above, and then locate the companies near you and start your job hunt.
My theory is this: If you are going to pursue a truck driving job, whether short term or long term, go for the best money possible.
Typically, yes tanker work pays well. But much depends on the trucking company hiring. There is more risk involved, more skills and knowledge needed, so it should command greater pay. They often pay for delays, wash outs, layovers etc, which makes for a higher rate of pay.
Private trucking fleets often pay an increased rate of pay to the trucker, but their standards for hiring drivers is also higher. They may seek out drivers with more experience and a higher skill level, than the average dry freight driver.
Trucking jobs that require a greater skill set and where there is a higher level of risk than the average truck driving job, can pay better than average, such as tanker work, owner operator (more financial risk and liability) and trucking on the ice roads are a few examples.