Truck Driver Salary: Average Truck Driver Pay Per Mile

July 26, 2012
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I get a lot of email from truck drivers asking about pay. As soon as they find out I have been trucking for 25+ years, they want to know what is considered good pay, yearly salary, or average pay per mile. So, I decided to break it down into below average pay, average pay, and above average pay. Unfortunately, for a lot of trucking companies, pay hasn’t changed much over the past 25 years. But with many companies, it has. You have to dig deep to find the good jobs. That has always been the case.

In a nutshell, this is how I see it- Pay per mile, and average miles, to me, isn’t the issue. It’s weekly pay, or yearly pay. In other words, how much money do you really make, never mind all the jargon about miles, money and home-time that a lot of companies throw at you.

Some trucking companies will work you hard for low pay, work you hard for good pay, work you easy for low pay, and work you easy for good pay.

In case you are new to my website, I have had over 100 jobs in those 25 years. Of course, only about 20 of them were OTR companies, which, based on my emails is the main type of job drivers are wondering about. So that’s what I’ll get into here. But you can always leave a comment, and I do respond to them all (after I moderate the spam out).

In the late 80’s and early 90’s, most decent trucking companies paid about .32 cents per mile. And in those days, it was easy to run over 3000 miles per week. So, if you do the math, a decent driver working for a decent company should make 45,000+ in those days.



When I see trucking companies these days talking about making $40,000, I cringe. This is 2012. Most of life’s expenses are twice what they were back then. Of course, pay isn’t twice what it was, with any company.

Here’s how I see it in 2012…

Below average truck driver pay- anything under .40 cents per mile, or $40,000 per year.

Average truck driver pay- about .40 to .45 cents per mile, or $50,000 to $60,000 per year.

Above average truck driver pay- close to .50 cents per mile, and over $60,000 per year.

Of course, what you haul matters. Flatbed, step-deck and heavy-haul drivers add a little to that pay scale. (Or, a lot in some cases.)

There are thousands of truck drivers out there making $70k+. (Especially owner operators- most of them should be doing at least $100,000.)

If you have at least one year of recent, OTR experience, you should be able to find a job where you can make at least $60,000 per year. That’s the bottom line as I see it.

I saw an ad the other day, for a heavy-haul company driver that only paid .40 cents per mile! Is any experienced heavy haul driver really going to take that job? I wouldn’t think so, but apparently some do.

These figures vary a little according to the US government, but all the numbers I gave above are based on reality, from a drivers perspective, according to the real world.



BIO:
Google-PlusKen Skaggs is a 30-year veteran trucker and safety professional, who has always been a writer, and an entrepreneur at heart. Since 2000, he’s had 150+ articles published by Ten-Four Magazine, Careers in Gear, Skaggmo Magazine, and dozens of websites.

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224 Responses to Truck Driver Salary: Average Truck Driver Pay Per Mile

  1. Sam
    December 3, 2014 at 1:34 am

    My dad has been a truck driver for the past 15 years and loves it. Instead of him trading his old truck in for a new one, we decided to get a new truck and put a driver on it, while he remains on his old truck and I dispatch. This was 2 years ago and currently we have 5 new trucks 2014/2015 models, 2 old ones and my dad drives an old Schneider truck while I dispatch. We start our drivers off at .36 cents on all miles for the first 3 months and then .38 cents with stop pay, detentions pay and a .02 cent bonus for safe driving per month. We do hire them on 1099 and give a raise of .02 cents per year with holiday pay, and more bonus as I see fit, depending on how the driver is doing. I am now close to managing 11 trucks (3 o/o) and it is one of the toughest jobs ever.

    My point is that as a small company we try to pay our drivers the best we can and stay on top of all regulations but, in my opinion, it is one of the most regulated industries out there and one of the toughest. Currently I start working at 4-5 am and am not done till 7-8 pm. With the introduction of the Electronic Log, I know for a fact that our revenue will drop 15-20 percent, not because we are doing illegal driving, etc, but because of their cost and impact. I eventually want to turn this company into an employee owned company so that the drivers will feel like they are working to for themselves, but with the way government is regulating this industry I am really thinking about quitting this business.

    I was just reading online about how other much other drivers make and what is fair and Since this article was about driver pay, our drivers make a minimum of $4000/ month driving about 2700-3200 miles a week.We have drivers making close to 6-7 who stay on the road for 3-5 weeks at a time. If the taxes and regulation could drop just a little, but not be eliminated, I know for a fact we can pay drivers more then .45 cpm starting, its the big company lobbyists and the government that is truly contributing to this stalemate. It truly sickens me what the stereotype has become of truckers and how they are considered filthy and uneducated. I just hope we can maybe come together once and rise up to the occasion to show the FMCSA, DOT, EPA, IRS, and Congress that we are not something that can be taxed more and more every time they need money to fill their pockets and regulated more and more for no reason.

    A person working hard should be able to make enough to feed his family and I see how that is not the case with most drivers we hire (mostly from big companies) who are working a lot, but that really needs to change in my opinion rather than more taxation and regulation.

    • December 3, 2014 at 7:43 am

      Wow. Thanks for all that Sam.
      Trucking is super-regulated, and very a difficult business to last long in, as an owner. It sounds like you are doing it though. Don’t give up! You have it mastered. You sound like a nice guy to work for who really wants his drivers to do well. And that is why you will succeed.
      Your pay is good enough. Maybe they can make a few more dollars somewhere else. But they will be a lot happier working for a cool guy like you.
      Drivers are a loyal group of individuals for the most part. Treat them well and they will stay, even if they could make a few more dollars somewhere else.
      As for all of your hard work and long hours… You’ll get better too. We all learn as we go along. I think you will find a way eventually, to lessen your work load. Try booking loads in advance, so they know where their next stop is after they empty out. I used to go to a health club at lunch time when I had my own company. That relieved the stress, kept me in shape, and helped me stay focused.
      Your heart is in the right place. Hang in there- it gets better. Good luck!
      Ken

  2. Stephen
    December 3, 2014 at 11:17 pm

    Props to Sam for trying to do the right thing. Ken’s right, pay is just part of the equation… especially if the eventual goal is extending company ownership and profit-sharing (I think TMC offers something similar). Company atmosphere, relations with dispatch, detention pay, the types of loads, pet policy, and more can all factor in to job satisfaction.

    As for regulation, there must be more flexibility introduced into HOS so drivers can sleep when they need to and drive when they are rested. But overall, we need to be careful what we wish for… many argue the “deregulation” associated with the 1980 Motor Carrier Act played a part in the race-to-the-bottom pay rates for freight (and thus drivers) we see today.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Motor_Carrier_Act_of_1980

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