Truck Driver Salary and Earning Potential

by Pride Transport | Mar 08, 2024

An important part of any job search is finding an opportunity that lets you earn a living while doing work that matters. Truck drivers are essential to keeping the American supply chain running smoothly and boosting the economy, so there’s no question that their work makes a huge difference in our lives! But how much do truck drivers make? And is there room for growth? Let’s take a look at some of the factors affecting truck driver salaries.

How Much Do Truck Drivers Make?

First things first: Unlike other types of jobs, many truck drivers don’t receive a traditional yearly salary. Instead, drivers are typically paid based on a rate of cost per mile, or CPM. (You can learn more here on the details and benefits of CPM.) To keep things simple, we’ll focus on what drivers can potentially earn in a year without fixating on the payment system.


Depending on where you look, the average truck driver salary in the U.S. can be as low as $49,920 (from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics), as high as $106,042 (according to data sourced by, and everywhere in between—a compensation study from the American Trucking Associations listed an average salary of $69,000 in 2021.

Why such a wide range? Several different factors affect a driver’s salary:

Years of driving experience

On average, new drivers can expect to earn closer to $$35,000–$40,000 annually, or slightly below the industry average. This is because they lack the experience of more seasoned drivers. It takes time to establish yourself as a safe, reliable driver, but consistently logging accident-free miles with superior customer service betters your chances of earning a raise or being scheduled for higher mileage trips.

Load types

Many industries rely on trucking, and load types vary greatly from one industry to another. For example, someone hauling highly flammable material will likely receive higher pay than someone transporting basic freight. Different certifications and endorsements, such as a hazmat or tanker endorsement, can up your earning potential because they allow you to legally operate more types of vehicles and haul a wider variety of loads.

Geographic location

Some regions are harder to navigate than others. Driving through long, flat miles in the midwest doesn’t require as much technical driving as someone who regularly traverses mountain passes or snowy climates. The level of driving difficulty is sometimes reflected in driver compensation.

While those factors vary from driver to driver, what’s true across the industry is that compensation has increased over the past few years due to a high demand for drivers.

How Experience and Training Impact Earnings

Experience plays a big role in determining truck driver salary. Recent FMCSA rulings have helped to level the playing field in terms of driver training by requiring all drivers to take ELDT classes from verified instructors before testing for their CDL. This helps to establish baseline pay and expectations for new drivers.


Earning your Class A license immediately boosts earning potential more than sticking to driving smaller delivery-type trucks because successfully operating a big rig takes more training and a specialized set of skills. The more training you receive on different types and sizes of vehicles, the more valuable you become as a driver. A varied skill set is a huge asset for drivers hoping to increase their income.


The experience you gain after training and earning your CDL determines your earning potential. Logging miles without incident and making timely deliveries builds your credibility and reliability as a driver. People want to hire drivers they can count on, and they’ll pay for that kind of dependability. With a couple years of experience, you’ll find yourself scheduled for higher mileage deliveries, especially if you pursue specialized training.


Specialized training offers greater earning potential. Hazmat certification comes with a higher pay day because transporting that type of material comes with higher risk. The same applies to earning certification to drive doubles, triples, and tanker vehicles. Each of these driving jobs comes with a higher risk, and is rewarded with higher pay.

pride transport employee smiling in truck

Ways to Boost Your Earning Potential

Hauling standard loads provides stable employment for a lot of drivers, but drivers can earn even more if they’re willing to switch up the type of cargo they haul or where they haul. Here are a few endorsements truck drivers can earn to make more in their career:


Hazmat (hazardous materials): Any chemical or liquid considered to be flammable, corrosive, or dangerous in some way.

Tanker/liquids: Liquids (water, gasoline, dairy products, etc.) travel differently than solid freight and require specialized training to be transported safely.

Oversized or heavy loads:
You’ve probably seen large construction equipment or houses on flatbeds being hauled on the highway. These are considered types of oversized loads that exceed what standard trucks are capable of hauling.

Bonuses and incentives

There are ways to earn more as a truck driver that don’t require additional certifications. Some companies offer signing bonuses for new drivers, or they’ll cover the cost of training and orientation. (We implemented our own $10,000 signing bonus and CPM rate increase in 2022.) Another big incentive at many companies: bonuses for drivers who are fuel efficient. Some organizations will also reward drivers for recording a certain number of miles per month.

How Region and Future Trends Affect Earning Potential

One of the nice things about the transportation industry is that no matter where you are, there’s likely a trucking operation near you! This offers drivers a lot of flexibility in terms of where truck drivers live and how far they want to travel.


Regional truck drivers, for example, complete routes within a relatively small geographic area. This could be within a single state or across a few connecting states. In general, regional routes are short enough that drivers can be home on a regular basis.


On the other hand, over-the-road (OTR) drivers cover much longer distances and can be gone for weeks at a time, picking up one job after another. OTR drivers are generally compensated with a higher salary than regional drivers to make up for the long miles and time on the road.


Geographic location points to another financial factor to consider: cost of living. A driver in Wisconsin doesn’t necessarily have the same cost of living as a driver in Colorado, and California is a completely different situation. So even if it looks as though California drivers have huge salaries, keep in mind that they have higher property tax, state income tax, and everyday living expenses that those salaries are covering.


Regardless of where you live, truck driver jobs are available: the BLS forecasts 241,200 job openings each year over the next decade. As more fleets invest in fuel efficient vehicles and better fleet management, it’s possible that drivers will find they’re able to complete routes more efficiently and can take on more loads. With multiple industries relying on trucking as their main form of transportation, there won’t be a shortage of driving opportunities.

Pride Transport: Always Hiring Truck Drivers

Interested in a career driving trucks? At Pride Transport, drivers earn above the industry average while working with a team that feels like family. Check out our driver opportunities and non-driver jobs today.

pride transport employee smiling in front of truck

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