How Much Do Truck Drivers Make? Average Truck Driver Salary (2023)

April 3, 2020January 9, 2021

The fact that you are reading this means that you are already thinking about a career on the asphalt. Let us congratulate you on this great choice – truck driving is an awesome adventure, and the money that comes with it isn’t bad at all.

Truck drivers can boast about always having a job for a reason – there’s always a shortage of truckers and the jobs requiring one are higher than ever.

So, to put it shortly, truckers do have it great. Trucking is a job in which you can zap through the ranks, it pays well, and it’s a great choice for people who like to be on the road.

We aren’t saying that everyone is cut for life on the road, far from it. But if you are, truck driving is the chance of your lifetime.

With that out of the way, here’s the answer to your question – how much do truck drivers make?

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There Are a Lot of Truck Drivers in the US

Trucking has been the go-to method for moving goods across the states. It’s one of the pillars of the whole United States’ economy.

The latest U.S. Census Bureau information states that, as of 2019, 3-5 million Americans work as truck drivers.

This number might seem huge, but the fact is that there’s an alleged shortage of truck drivers nationwide. And the number of trucking jobs increases by the day.

Having said that, how much money truck drivers earn is a different matter. There are many factors in this equation, from geographical location to experience. And there are secondary factors too, like living area – meaning the higher the cost of living is, the lower the actual value of the salary.

Just for reference, in D.C., truck drivers make an average of around $52-$55k a year. This might seem a lot, but the average annual salary for all occupations in D.C. goes above $90k, making truck driving one of the lower-paid jobs in the city.

Seek Capital and Indeed both offer valuable insight into truck driving statistics, including average salaries per country too.

The Top 10 Best Paying States For Truck Drivers in the US

Seek Business Capital’s study lists the average annual wages for all 50 states. What this study does is it didn’t only consider the actual annual wage, but the state’s cost of living too. This resulted in a more transparent picture about which states are undeniably best for truck drivers when it comes to annual wages.

Overall RankStateAverage Annual Truck Driver WageAverage Per Capita Income for All Occupations (Incl. Non-Trucking Jobs)How Much More Truck Drivers Make Than the Average Worker
5South Carolina$44,270$38,0410.1637
7New Mexico$44,460$38,4570.1561

The Worst States for Truck Drivers’ Salaries

Alongside giving a list of the top 10 states for truck driver salaries in the US, Seek Business Capital’s study shows the top 10 worst states for trucker salaries in the US too.

Overall RankState (incl. D.C.)Average Annual Truck Driver WageAverage Per Capita Income for All Occupations (Incl. Non-Trucking Jobs)How Much Less Truck Drivers Make Than the Average Worker
51Washington D.C.$52,760$71,496-26.21%
48New Jersey$49,080$59,782-17.90%
47New Hampshire$45,030$54,817-17.85%
44New York$50,460$57,705-12.56%
41South Dakota$41,590$45,002-7.58%

The West and South Are the Best Places for Truckers

The numbers above show that the West and South are the best for truck driver salaries. While moving across the state is not a viable option for everyone, it could make an enormous difference in how much money you get. And how long it lasts you.

Check the study here – it has the annual salary for each state. Use it to cross-reference your current rates, and to ask for better compensation.

Indeed’s Study on How Much Truck Drivers Make

Indeed, as one of the biggest job boards out there, has all the data on how much money truck drivers make in the US available on their website.

The averages are as follows:

How Much Do Truck Drivers Make? Average Truck Driver Salary (1)
How Much Do Truck Drivers Make? Average Truck Driver Salary (2)
How Much Do Truck Drivers Make? Average Truck Driver Salary (3)
How Much Do Truck Drivers Make? Average Truck Driver Salary (4)
How Much Do Truck Drivers Make? Average Truck Driver Salary (5)

Furthermore, the Indeed study shows the highest paying cities in the US for truck drivers too:

Atlanta, GA
2315 salaries reported
per year
Dallas, TX
1972 salaries reported
per year
Omaha, NE
1120 salaries reported
per year
Nashville, TN
1556 salaries reported
per year
Indianapolis, IN
4542 salaries reported
per year
Charlotte, NC
4278 salaries reported
per year
Phoenix, AZ
972 salaries reported
per year
Salt Lake City, UT
798 salaries reported
per year

What’s most interesting from their study is the survey they did on truckers. Out of 44,325 ratings, 51% said that they are satisfied with their salary. This number speaks volumes. Almost half of the truckers are not satisfied with their current salary.

Indeed dives deeper into the comparison, offering numbers on similar jobs to truck driving and how much they make per hour/year.

188431 openings
per hour
Company Driver
313186 openings
per year
Delivery Driver
99530 openings
per hour
Local Driver
118085 openings
per hour
Route Driver
68939 openings
per hour
Owner Operator Driver
12298 openings
per year

It’s obvious that owner-operators make more than company drivers, but it’s interesting to see that local drivers get paid quite high.

Still, expenses need to be taken into consideration here, and a higher gross salary doesn’t necessarily mean that the driver gets more money. This is true for owner-operators too, because they have expenses that are covered by the company for company truck drivers.

Ziprecruiter’s Study on Trucker Salary

Ziprecruiter also did a salary overview of truck drivers on their platform. They reported the averages to be a bit higher than what Indeed reported, with the average hourly rate for truck drivers being $24 per hour.

However, they reported that truckers get paid $50,843 on average, which is quite lower than the $60,041 reported by Indeed.

This discrepancy is probably because the drivers who got work through ZipRecruiter drove fewer hours than those who got work through Indeed.

How Much Do Truck Drivers Make? Average Truck Driver Salary (6)

How to Earn More as a Truck Driver?

There are many ways to boost your income as a truck driver, including:

  • Signing bonuses
  • Safety bonuses
  • Detention pay
  • Layover pay
  • Fuel-efficiency
  • Passing DOT inspections
  • Passing drug tests
  • Bonus for achieving monthly mileage milestones

Furthermore, truck drivers that transport dangerous cargo or drive on dangerous routes get paid more. So, ice road truckers and hazmat drivers get paid more because there’s more risk involved.

On the other hand, there are the OTR drivers, who are constantly on the road. They do get paid more because of the long distances they travel, and it’s a demanding job requiring the driver to follow regulations throughout multiple countries.

Reportedly, Walmart Pays Their Truckers a Lot

Following the nationwide shortage of truck drivers, Walmart has stayed in the game by giving what some might say exorbitant salaries for their drivers.

In 2019, Walmart announced that they will be paying their truck drivers $87,500 a year.

If we compare this number to the average pays reported by Indeed and ZipRecruiter, this is a lot of money. With the bonuses, the total salary exceeds $90,000.

As an icing on the proverbial cake, the company also offers three weeks of paid vacation for new drivers in their first year. And also, they give out quarterly bonuses for milestones.

Perhaps the best perk Walmart offers is two days a week at home.

Truckers Got Paid More in the Past

A Business Insider study on truckers’ salary pointed out some alarming facts. The study shows that the average salary for truck drivers has decreased dramatically over the years. For comparison, in 1980, the average truck driver’s salary was 21% more than today, with some areas having as much as 50% more than today.

History has an explanation for this, and no, it’s not inflation or some conspiracy theory. On the contrary, it’s very simple – it was very difficult to get a license as a truck driver. This started back in 1935 when the federal government began regulating trucking.

This meant that companies that were already driving could continue to drive, but new companies “found it extremely difficult to get certificates”.

The Moto Carrier Act of 1980

In 1980, the opposite happened, the Moto Carrier Act was in force, and it allowed new trucking companies to be opened with no hardships whatsoever.

This surge created a very competitive atmosphere where companies started cutting wages to survive.

In the next decade, the number of active trucking companies doubled. This also got carried on to the new Millenium.

In the end, “the consumer won, and the trucker lost,” as Business Insider puts it.

Additional Trucker Wages Information

Below is an infographic containing the average truck driver salaries for each state in the US:

Below is a list of the most popular and highest paid truck driving jobs in the US:

How Much do Cross Country Truck Drivers Make (OTR)

The nation-wide median for cross country (or over-the-road) truck drivers salary is $53k/year. The lowest salary is around $20k/year, and the highest salary is $86k/year.

Ice Road Truckers Average Salary

The nation-wide median for ice road truck driver salaries is $60k/year. The lowest reported salaries start from $19k/year, and the highest reported salaries are around $85k/year.

Hazmat Truckers Average Salary

The nation-wide median for hazmat truck driver salaries is $58k/year. The lowest salaries go from $32k/year, and the highest salaries are around $82k/year.

Tanker Truckers Average Salary

The national average salary for tanker truckers is around $54k/year. The lowest salary for tankers is $31k/year, and the highest salary for tankers is $86k/year.

Overdimensional / Big Haul Trucker Salary

The national average salary for overdimensional / big haul (or oversize load) drivers is $55k/year. The lowest reported salary is $22k/year, and the highest reported salary is $176k/year.

Car Haulers Truck Driver Average Salary

The annual average salary for car hauler drivers is $80k/year. The lowest reported salary for car haulers is $42k/year, and the highest reported salary is $119k/year.

Team Truck Drivers Average Salary

The average salary for team truck drivers in the US is $80k/year. The lowest reported salary for team drivers is $61k/year, and the highest reported salary is $110k/year.

Owner-Operator Drivers Average Salary

The average annual salary for owner-operators is $127k/year. The lowest reported owner-operator salary is $18k/year (but this is a very small percentage or all jobs), and the highest reported salary is $348k/year.

Final Words

Even though truck driving might have been a more lucrative job in the past, it doesn’t mean that it’s not good to become a truck driver today.

It’s still one of the most stable jobs out there, and the shortage almost ensures you will get a job.

So, if you are on the road of a career change, or want to see what trucking jobs are out there, look no further. Click the button below and start driving!

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