Truck Driver Salary: Average Truck Driver Pay Per Mile

July 26, 2012

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.

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

  1. Brittany Farrier
    July 20, 2014 at 6:25 pm

    Hi, Ken.

    I am looking at attending Miller Motte in Fayetteville, NC for a truck driving course. A friend of mine who is a trucker said I should start with Prime. Have you heard of them? If so, what is your view on them? I am a female too by the way if that makes any difference.

    • July 21, 2014 at 7:09 am

      I never heard of that school, but they look legit. I would have to ask them a few questions first-
      Will I get some time behind the wheel? (The more, the better.)
      Do you have your own truck for the road test? (Otherwise, you’ll just end up with a CDL Permit.)
      Do you have a list of companies that hire your graduates?

      Prime is as good as any other huge corporation. Some drivers love them, and some hate them. I always say, your job is what you make it to be.

      If that school answers well on those questions, I would call every one of their job opportunities before I commit to any one. Ask a lot of questions, and make a wise choice.

      Good luck.

  2. chad
    July 22, 2014 at 6:20 pm

    i was at a company that paid me 90% of the load but got fired because of oos i found another company that pays by the mile .91 cents per mile plus fuel surcharge i never ran on cents per mile always percentage so i was wanting now your opinion on it which one would be best for me i have five kids and wife doesnt work and i completely own my truck and trailer its a dry van. the problem is that with cents per mile the load always dont pay with percentage u always no what our getting paid lets say for instance my last load picked up in bowling green ky going to ardmore ok 787 miles and paying 2300 with percentage it would be 2,070 thats my cuts plus fuel i figured 700 dollars in fuel load weight 41,500 so ill make 1,370 how would u figure it with mileage pay

    • chad
      July 22, 2014 at 6:24 pm

      on percentage thats almost 3.00 a mile

    • July 23, 2014 at 6:26 am

      First, I have to say 91-cents is nothing. Keep looking.
      There’s a lot to consider with percentage vs mileage. Deadhead miles for one. Personally, I always did better with percentage pay. But every company is different. Also, it depends on what you’re hauling. Dry van in general pays less than tanker, flatbed or heavy haul.
      The bottom line is- you should know what your cost-per-mile is to run your truck (and trailer if you have one). Consider all of your expenses (fuel, insurance, permits, repairs, payments, etc.), and divide that by how many miles you run on average. Once you know that number, you’ll know your starting point.
      For example- let’s say you get 6 MPG. Divide that by $3.80 per gallon (or whatever you pay). In this case, it’s 63-cents per mile. Add in some other expenses and most likely your actual cost-per-mile is probably around 75 to 80 cents. Now you can see why I say 91-cents is nothing.
      When you own your own truck and trailer you have a lot of companies that would love to hire you. Don’t settle for less.
      Good luck.

      • Mauricio
        September 8, 2014 at 10:40 pm

        Ken, do you hace an idea for a truck owner what will be the difference if buying a dry van trailer on the mile? Let say i am beeing paid 1.50 per mile, if I buy a dry van trailer will I get .30 cents more on a mile?

        • September 9, 2014 at 5:40 am


          It’s hard to say… Usually if you don’t have your own trailer they make you rent theirs. So the only savings you’ll have is you won’t have to pay trailer rent if you own your own trailer. Of course, when it breaks down that’s your expense. It’s usually about $150 to $200 a week to rent a van trailer. $200 a week for 52 weeks is $10,400. So if you bought a $10,000 trailer it will pay for itself in one year. But a few companies let you use their trailer for free. If that is the case don’t bother buying one just yet, unless you are looking for a different, better place to work, or you want to expand your business to haul your own loads from your own customers. (In that case you will your Interstate Authority as well.)

          Thanks for stopping by.

  3. sandy
    July 25, 2014 at 8:28 pm

    Hey ken I was thinking about getting my cdl I called cross country truck driving school in thomasville nc. They said I the price is $2600. I can put $600 down and make payments. I want to start off making $50000 to $60000 per year. Is this a school a good decision ? They said its 4 to six weeks training. I want to make as much money as possible!!

    • July 26, 2014 at 11:10 am

      Hi Sandy,

      That looks like a decent truck driving school. The price is fair, the course is fast, and they have excellent job placement assistance. It’s not easy to make 50K+ your first year, but it can be done. But it won’t happen at any of the companies your school tells you about. You’ll have to find it on your own. They’re out there, but it will take a little work to land one. All it takes is being qualified with a CDL and a good driving record, and the interviewer has to like you and believe you will do a fine job. Here’s a few ideas-
      Union jobs, asphalt companies, sand and gravel haulers, grocery distributors, route-sales jobs, movers. Most of these jobs pay very well. They also want experience, but sometimes a person can be in the right place at the right time. The key is- get out there and spend some time looking, and don’t grab the first offer for $10 an hour- keep looking. Prepare for an interview by selling yourself- convince them that you will be a safe driver, and very good with customers, and you don’t mind doing extra work or working long hours and you’ll have a chance.

      Good luck.

  4. July 30, 2014 at 6:04 pm

    hey Ken my name is stacy I’m just about to complete my first year driving for a big company I only make 37 cents a mile and run about 2000 to 2500 miles a week should I start looking for a better paying job or should I wait till I have more experience I would like to make 50000 to 60,000 a year that’s why got into this career but I know u have to start at the bottom and work your way up with experience and time on the job so please give me your opinion

    • August 3, 2014 at 6:52 pm

      Hi Stacy. A year is enough experience to land a good job. I know there are some that require 2 or 3 years, but good jobs are out there for someone with one year experience. At 37 CPM, if you ran 3000 miles a week you’d make 50k. But if you could find say 42 CPM you could run 2500 miles and make over 50k. Two companies worth mentioning are New Century, and Heartland Express. I know those two pay over 40. I’m sure there are more. You should look locally for it. Don’t use those little trucking magazines you find at the truck stops. Get your local newspapers, or even look in the phonebook and make some calls.
      Good luck.

  5. Pam Bayne
    July 31, 2014 at 5:17 pm

    I have sent you a message before about my son and being a truck driver. He has almost a year experience, no accidents, clean record. He is making $.18 to $.22 a mile and they will not give him long runs. He has been looking at different trucking companies and found one that he really wanted to work for. He was turned down because he has two felonies, one in 1992 and one in 1999. Is there any hope that he can get a decent paying trucking job? How does he go about finding the ones that are a little forgiving in your past.

    • August 3, 2014 at 6:55 pm

      Hi Pam. Wow- your son hung in there a long time at a very low wage. Don’t fret though- it gets better from here. With a year experience he should be able to double that pay. Tell him to take his time looking, ask a lot of questions, and make a wise choice. And about those felonies- it’s tough, but I suggest smaller companies, like 5 to 10 trucks. Check your local newspapers.
      Good luck.

    • August 3, 2014 at 7:07 pm

      hi Pam my name is stacy I have a felony in 1992 in a DUI in 1995 I’ve been driving almost a year now for Schneider intermodalI started with $.30 a mile with $.06 a mile safety bonus tell your son to check the website out they have a lot of different job to choose from in every state

  6. August 5, 2014 at 9:54 pm

    3000 miles a week, seems only possible if working a 12-14 hour day or 6 days a week, 10 hours a day. That’s assuming normal traffic (average 50 miles and hour) and not 70 on an interstate all the time. Delivering in a city would lower the MPH considerably. So what this writer is saying you either drive 12 hour days or no weekends. Not much of a life. No wonder nobody wants to truck.

    • August 6, 2014 at 6:08 am

      There’s a lot of truth in there Jon. We often do the math and say- I should be able to cover x-amount of miles by a certain time- but it usually never works out that way. Welcome to trucking. Anything that can happen probably will.

  7. Reed
    August 6, 2014 at 12:07 am

    Hey. I just read your article above. I hope you don’t mind my asking. But lately I’ve been looking into OTR and possibly owner/op. I’m 20 years old and have 1 year exp. on flatbed. I’m curious. In your opinion do you think it would be wise for me to pursue owner/op and this point in my career as a driver? And 1 more month I will no longer be limited to intrastate. Basically my question is in your opinion do you think me pursuing owner/op and OTR will end up badly for me in the long run.

    • August 6, 2014 at 6:28 am

      It’s hard for me to say whether being an Owner=Operator, or even an OTR driver is a fit for you personally. Those long hours at the wheel are a challenge for anyone. But, since you are so young, if you aren’t married yet (or if you bring your wife with you), this could be a great time for you to save some serious money. You could conceivably save 80% of your money if you live in your truck and save hard. Speaking strictly of the economy, I think now is a good time to be an owner operator. The thing about owning a truck is- it’s an investment. If you shop smart, you could buy a $20,000 truck, work it for a year, then sell it for $20,000. I’ve seen it done, and you can do it too.

  8. Fay Jones
    August 10, 2014 at 5:07 pm

    Does it seem profitable to purchase a truck and hire a driver and lease your truck to a company. Could you come out with that these days?

    • August 11, 2014 at 5:52 am

      Hi Fay. A lot of people do just that. But that won’t work out too well if your truck only makes 90-cents a mile- unless you get a huge fuel surcharge on every load. It pays to haul something special, not just dry-van. Flatbed, heavy-haul, dump trucks, etc do very well. You can make it with dry-van hauling, but it will be a little tougher. Here’s what you have to consider…
      What does it cost to run your truck? Usually it’s about 60 to 75 CPM.
      What do you want to pay your driver? Most experienced drivers won’t hang around too long if they aren’t making 40 CPM, and $1000+ a week, plus health insurance.
      What do you want to make?
      Add those together and you’ll know your bottom-line. Off the top of my head, it’s probably around $1.60 a mile. But again, it depends on what you haul. A lot of local drivers do very well too, even dry-van haulers.
      Good luck.

  9. August 11, 2014 at 10:29 am

    Hey Ken, whats your opinion on CRST and Melton trucking school training programs and job placements, which is a better start ?

    • August 13, 2014 at 8:08 am

      I don’t like ANY trucking company training school, they take advantage of drivers by locking them in at a very low wage for too long. However, as a place to work once you have experience, both are excellent jobs. (CRST flatbed does better than their dry van div.).

  10. August 14, 2014 at 8:53 pm

    Hey Ken, im 24 years old and am seriously considering becoming a truck driver. im curious on a few thing though. does trucking allow you to have a life outside of work? on average how many miles/hours would a beginner drive per day? are there any good schools that you know of in ohio for me to get my cdl? how long does it take to move up the ladder and get higher paying jobs? and how much stress can this job create?

    • August 16, 2014 at 5:00 am

      Hi Nicholas. You asked the best question anyone ever asked me about trucking- Does trucking allow you to have a life outside of work? The short answer is- not too much if you are driving OTR. But it depends on who you work for and where you go too. A lot of people say trucking is a lifestyle, and this is why. You have to give up your home-life for the job. Most OTR companies get you home every weekend or every other weekend. But if you are young, not married, or your kids are grown, you don’t care- that’s when you can make some real money because you can actually enjoy the road, especially if you bring your wife along with you. But, if you really want a home-life, I suggest getting a local job. This way you will be home every day like a normal person.
      Most beginners do most of the driving. So, (again, if you are OTR) your trainer will make you do all of the driving, unless you get into a jam- then the lead driver will take over. Most OTR drivers drive about 500 to 600 miles a day.
      There are a whole bunch of good truck driving schools in Ohio. Just Google your town and truck driving schools, and you will see a list of them. Disregard any one that is owned by a trucking company. Make some calls and find the closest one that offers financial aid, lets you get in and done quickly, and has a long list of potential companies that will hire you.
      Generally speaking, after your first year you can just about pick your next job. After your 2nd, and especially after your 3rd year, you really will be able to pick any job you want.
      Trucking can be a very stressful job. Most people don’t make it. Traffic, time away from home, stupid dispatchers, smart-ass customers, and your health (all those hours sitting can do some damage) all play a roll when it comes to stress. Those that do well are the ones that actually enjoy being alone, or on the road with the one you love, going to some cool places, and getting out of the truck to have some fun once in a while can make all the difference.

      Good luck!

  11. kenny
    August 16, 2014 at 2:47 am

    Hey my name is kenny i am looking for a trucking career i want to do long distance and i want to make some money i have no experience so m looking for a company to send me to school and let me sign a contract i have a perfect driving record with or points im intrested in cr england what is your thoughts on that company and whats you advice on how i should get started down this road?

    • August 16, 2014 at 5:10 am

      Hey Kenny. I’m Kenny too. Ha ha.

      I suggest NOT going to CR England for training- or any company for that matter. Read some of the other comments. The one just above this I explained how to choose a good school.
      Having a clean driving record is so important I just can’t stress it enough. Keep it clean and you will do well in this field.
      If you truly enjoy the road, and it sounds like you do, you will make some money.
      The best way to get started is to get financial aid, and go to an independent truck driving school. Then get a job with a major OTR carrier (your school should have a list of those that hire new drivers fresh out of school.) Then, after you get a year experience, look around for something better. It’s out there. All of these companies that hire new graduates (and especially those that do their own training) do so because they have a terrible time trying to keep drivers. The good jobs don’t have that problem. In other words, all those trucking magazines at the truckstops that are chock-full of jobs are just those jobs that are low pay, long hours, and slow trucks. But you got to start somewhere.

      Good luck!

  12. eric
    August 21, 2014 at 12:48 am

    Im really looking into becoming an otr driver. Long distance. Your opinion is that i should go to a local driving school. Then look for a job through the school or on my own. Not going to a large trucking companies school? I live in bergen county new jersey. Any ideas

    • August 21, 2014 at 7:14 am

      Hi Eric,

      Yes, you will save thousands of dollars, maybe tens-of-thousands, if you go to an independent truck driving school, even if you pay for it yourself. But most people can get a government grant, which is even better. Bergen County NJ is an awesome area to find good paying driver jobs.
      I see you want to drive long distance. I don’t blame you. Get away from all that traffic over there. Any local job in that area will likely have you in and out of NYC every day. The good news is- a lot of OTR companies have trouble getting drivers to go to NYC or NJ. But since you live in that area, they would love to hire you.
      Take a look at this page- Bergen County Truck Driving Schools. And make sure you scroll down past the sponsored listings! (Those are the ones I warned you about.)
      Call them all, and ask a lot of questions… How much? Can I make payments? Got financial aid? How long does it take? Do you have a list of companies that hire your graduates? … And make a thoughtful choice.

      Good luck,

  13. kimberly
    August 23, 2014 at 1:35 am

    Hi I recently got hired on at a trucking company that is going to train me to get my CDL. My driving record is pretty straight except I got a speeding ticket about a year and a half ago. I don’t plan on staying with this company more than a year and a half (I want to be a OTR trucker and they don’t offer this), they seem like a pretty legit company and they will give me my money back for schooling as long as I am with the company after I pay it off. My question to you is will this speeding ticket affect me getting a decent paying job? Also I have two dogs that I’m not going to be able to take with me on this job and have to pay for boarding (which is crazy expensive), do you know the est company that would allow me to have my dogs? I want to get on at Walmart eventually i hear they make really good money and also I would be able to have my dogs. Walmart’s website requires 3 years experience, do you think they would hire me with less than that?

    • August 23, 2014 at 8:49 am

      Hi Kimberly,

      If Walmart says they require 3-years experience, this is etched in stone- they will not budge on that, even if you have 2.8 years experience. Every company has their minimum requirements, and this is imposed on them by their insurance companies.

      More companies these days allow pets, so I think you should make some calls when the time comes- you’ll find the right one.

      Read the fine-print from that company willing to pay for your schooling. How long do you have to stay there? At what pay rate? Is it really worth it? Most OTR companies that pay for training rip you off for a year or more. I never heard of a local company doing it. Maybe you got a nice place to start right there.

      Good luck.

      • kimberly
        August 23, 2014 at 9:45 am

        They said whenever I pay the loan of 4900 off then they will cut me a check in that amount, only stipulation is that I have to still be working for their company. They want me to stay with an experienced driver for at least 6 months after getting CDL, they encourage HAZMAT and any other additional training but it is not required, Here is
        what they list:

        Graduates of our Truck Driving School start at 35 cents per mile.
        36 cents per mile after 1 year over the road. Earn up to 44 cents per mile.
        Paid on all dispatched miles, loaded & empty.
        Paid for extra stops.
        Paid for Driver Assist
        Paid Detention
        Paid extra for New York City
        Yearly safety bonus
        Additional 1 cent per mile for 2500+ miles
        Weekly home time
        Team pay up to 55 cents per mile

        This place seems pretty legit and straight forward, they have a A+ with the BBB.

        As for my other question, do you think that my speeding ticket will affect my chances of getting hired on elsewhere in a few years? Thank you so much for your help, Kimberly

        • kimberly
          August 23, 2014 at 9:48 am

          Also no money down required.

        • August 23, 2014 at 3:01 pm

          Hey Kimberly, that’s a pretty fair offer. I’d like to know the name of that company. Most of them get their drivers to work for half-pay for the first year.

          About speeding- if your ticket was 16 MPH over the speed limit or more, that will affect your driving record and no one will want to hire you (except maybe a very small outfit). If was between 10 and 15 MPH over, that will have some affect, but you should still be able to land a decent job.


          • kimberly
            August 23, 2014 at 6:43 pm

            Is there a way I could e-mail it to you or something I’d really prefer not to list it on here, thanks Kimberly

          • Andrew
            August 26, 2014 at 6:03 am

            Hi Ken my name is Andrew and was looking becoming a truck driver and looked around and found Pam transport is that a good place to start?

          • August 26, 2014 at 7:03 am

            Hi Andrew,

            If you already have attended truck driving school and have your CDL, PAM Transport is as good a place as any to go to work. However, if you are planning to attend their CDL training program, I highly recommend you DON’T do it.

            Most of these OTR companies do the same thing- they train drivers for a CDL and put them to work for half-pay for a year or longer. Drivers wind up spending $20,000 for the same training they could have had from an independent truck driving school for about $5000 or $6000 (and maybe even get a grant to pay for it.) Plus, if you go to an independent school, you will have many job choices, and could change jobs after 3-months if you weren’t happy. When you train at a trucking company, you are stuck there until you pay for your schooling, or they sue you for the cost.

            Good luck.

  14. Greg
    August 25, 2014 at 11:54 pm

    Hey Ken I am trying to find out about driving jobs that would allow me to have a home life. What’s your opinion? And are there decent paying jobs available. My name is Greg.

    • August 26, 2014 at 5:37 am

      Hi Greg,

      Depending on where you live, there are a lot of good paying jobs that get you home every night. Here are a few suggestions- sand and gravel haulers, asphalt drivers, any construction driver, route sales drivers (soda, beer, potato chips, bread, milk), local movers, local freight haulers, garbage truck drivers.

      The best way to land one is to talk to a current driver. Go where they go- behind large grocery store, by industrial neighborhoods, and just talk to the driver who is driving the truck with no sleeper.

      Good luck.

      • Greg
        August 26, 2014 at 12:39 pm

        Thank you Ken for the information I really appreciate it. I am considering changing careers do you think I should go otr my first year for experience?

        • August 27, 2014 at 5:30 am

          Hi Greg,

          Yes and no. Going OTR your first year is a good idea because it is less challenging than city driving (not as many tight parking challenges). However, in some aspects it is more challenging- like long days or weeks away from home.
          A year on the road will help you as a driver though, to understand what it involves. That’s invaluable experience.

          Good luck!

  15. John Griffin
    August 27, 2014 at 12:50 pm

    Hi Mr. Skaggs,
    Iam am looking into becoming a trucker. I am currently serving in the Air Force and have been for the past 18 yrs. I am lookiing at a possible Medical Retirement and need to look at my future possibilities. I have always been a fan of trucking. I have read all the questions and concerns of the other people on here from July 2014 – today. You have provided some great info and direction. I am looking at purchasing my own truck and possible flatbed / box trailer. My question is, would being an owner operater be the better way to start this new adventure? I have the means to buy a great used truck/trailer and would rather use my own equipment for this career. Thanks for any guidence you can provide.

    • August 27, 2014 at 1:21 pm

      I always said once you go owner-operator, you never go back. There’s nothing like the freedom to choose you own destiny. I agree with you- buy a truck and maybe even a trailer. (There’s more money in flatbed than van, but you’ll work harder too.) My only concern is, if you have no trucking experience, you may have to work for a company for 6-months or a year first, while you learn the business. If you do have military trucking experience, a lot of companies will still hire you- or you can jump right into buying a truck. The more you learn before you buy, and the more you figure out what you want personally (as far as home-time, how hard you want to work, etc), the better off you’ll be in the end.

  16. Hugo
    August 28, 2014 at 12:07 am

    Hey Ken!

    I am in a bit of a dilemma here, and I would really appreciate your advice and help. I am a 23 year old guy that lives in Southern California, and have graduated recently from a 4 year institutional school. The problem is that I need to start working now. But I also want to continue with school to apply for a physician assistant program. However, I still need at least 3 to 5 years to finish the pre-requisites to even apply to the program, and another 3 years to finish the program. I do not know if I would be up for another 6 to 10 years of school. I have always thought about becoming a truck driver, but I am not sure if it would be a good alternative. I have a lot of family members that are truckers, but I do not know if it would be worth changing career paths at this point in my career path. Would you suggest to keep on with school? Or give the trucking lifestyle a shot, to see if this career would be appropriate for me?

    • August 28, 2014 at 12:51 pm

      Hi Hugo,

      Man, that’s a tough call. You have a 4-year degree. You can get a decent job in just about any field. I guess the question is- What would really make you happy? I was glad that you called it the “trucking lifestyle”. Trucking, especially OTR trucking is a lifestyle. You’re gone for weeks at a time. Yeah, you make decent money (and you can save a lot of it if you live in your truck). But maybe not compared to 4-year degree possibilities. I see the real goal you have requires 6 more years. This is a major turning point ion your life, and without really knowing you, I can’t say what would be best for you.
      Think about the long nights sleeping by yourself in a cubicle of a bedroom (unless of course you have a girlfriend or wife to bring with). Think about the days when you have to get across New York City in an hour but traffic is a mess, and you hardly slept, and your phone won’t stop ringing, and the cops are pulling you over. Also, think about the money you can save because you won’t need an apartment for a while. But then, think about what you can do with your degree, or the one you want 6-years out. It’s a tough call. Take your time and think this one through. I’m sorry I’m not a lot of help here. All I can say is, this is important, so make the right choice.

      Good luck.

      • Hugo
        August 28, 2014 at 1:36 pm

        Thanks for the insight! I really needed someones else perspective. I never really thought about it like that. Now that I think of it, I might as well finish school, since I already started.

  17. Jacob
    August 31, 2014 at 6:51 pm

    Hey Ken. I’m starting my second week of training for Schneider Bulk Division. Training requires I spend three more weeks here before I’m finished, and can drive on my own. I’m told I will be paid 36 CPM and that’s all I really know about the money side of things. I have several questions though, so please bare with me.

    1. My girlfriend is pregnant and is due in six months. I’m having second thoughts about my final decision to drive over the road. (I have no contract) I truly want to be around for my fiance and for my new born. So, my question is, do you believe I am making a mistake by going Otr?

    2. If I come to the conclusion that it is a mistake, what should I do? Should I follow through with Schneider and possibly see if they will train me for another arena completely? Note: the thing I found appealing about the job is the experience and I am expecting decent pay. But the pay doesn’t matter if I can’t spend time with the family I’m making the money for.

    3. I would love to relocate with my fiance to start family. This is one of my goals. I really would like to do so as soon as possible. Is there any good option for a company that will support me in doing this? Is it possible that Schneider, after training me, WI assist me with this?

    A little bit about myself: I’m 21, ambitious, healthy, willing to work hard, and refuse to be screwed by any of these companies . I feel that these qualities should help me in this field as long as I am humble. Please, if there’s any advice you could give me, as far as what companies would be a good alternative, or anything of the sort, it would be greatly appreciated. Thank you,

    • September 1, 2014 at 7:04 am

      Hi Jake,

      You brought up some very thoughtful points. These are typical in this industry. And you’re a smart man to see it this early on. Especially the part about being humble. Nobody likes a know-it-all.
      1. Pregnant girlfriend- You won’t be able to take her with you once the baby is born. But if you have time before she delivers, maybe you can bring her with you for a while. But you will surely miss them both once she does have that baby. However, Schneider is a huge company, and they have more freight than most other companies put together. So they will work with you and get you home more often than most companies. Once you get on your own make sure your dispatcher understands that.
      2.If it’s a mistake- Schneider doesn’t have to many options besides OTR. I know they have flatbed, van, all that- but it’s all OTR. If you realize that this isn’t for you and you quit, you will likely owe them some money for their “free” training. It’s only free if you stay.
      3. Relocation- Not a problem for Schneider. They have so much freight, you can live just about anywhere and get home whenever you need to. However, once you get on your own, you may want to inquire about a dedicated run, or local openings. They just might have some local openings in an area that you’d like to relocate to. Then you will be home evry day like a normal person.
      Since you are so young and healthy and willing to work hard, anyone would love to hire you. But you will have to earn that first year experience first. Once you have that under your belt, a lot more choices will open up for you.
      At this point, I would suggest you hang in there. If there’s time, bring your girlfriend with you for a while. After the baby is born make it clear to your dispatcher that you need to be home more often- they will work with you on that.

      Good luck!

      • Jacob
        September 1, 2014 at 8:43 am

        Thanks, Ken, I appreciate the input and that is kind of where my mind was to begin. I guess for now I am a Schneider driver and then maybe in the future I can look into things like you say: “Union jobs, asphalt companies, sand and gravel haulers, grocery distributors, route-sales jobs, movers.”

        As I am starting a family I know I’ll want home time. Heck, I want it now and I have just barely started. so as for right now that’s my biggest concern. The 6 month probationary period the place you in kind of cancels out any chance of her coming with me. But there’s always a chance they might do a case by case.

        Thanks again,

  18. Wil Mariluch
    September 3, 2014 at 7:45 pm

    Ken, I’m just finishing my CDL course through Sage TDS in Sandy Utah. My opinion… very good school. They allowed me to study at my own pace and as a result will be a licensed driver by the end of the week. I also don’t have much knowledge about the dollars and cents of this industry. The recruiters all seem to offer what in my humble opinion, is very low considering the type of job we as drivers are doing. what kind of input do you have for us newbies?

    • September 7, 2014 at 6:31 am

      HI Wil,

      Sage is a fine truck driving school. Yeah, those OTR companies take advantage of new drivers and offer very low starting pay. Some are better than others. It really pays to do your homework before you commit to any one. In fact, I would suggest looking around locally- read some of the other comments I’ve made- there’s some good job search tips in there. And start now, before you schooling is finished. Ask a lot of questions. The bottom-line is this- your first year you should be able to make at least 30k, 2nd year- 40k. But if you shop around you could make 40k your first year, or even more if you land a union job, or a local job.
      Good luck!

  19. Michael
    September 4, 2014 at 3:08 pm

    Hi ken, just a quick question.I am just starting training for my CDL and I was curious. When working for a company can you take your spouse OTR with you? I hear a lot of people saying they drive with their wife or husband but is that only if you are an owner operator?

    • September 7, 2014 at 6:34 am

      Hi Michael,

      It depends on the company. Most OTR companies do allow you to take a rider (anyone over 12, or sometimes spouse only). I would say 9 out of 10 allow spouses. However, there are just a few companies out there that do not allow riders. You have to ask that question when you start looking for that job. Ask a lot of questions.

  20. Nickcoma
    September 7, 2014 at 7:21 am

    Hello Mr.Skaggs
    I currently have my class B license, but I want my class A. I’ve been comparing attending a Technical college that offer CDL A training & test on sight or trucking company. what’s your advice of the way i should consider. Thank you so much for hearing me in this matter.

    • September 9, 2014 at 5:31 am

      Hi Nickcoma,

      To go from class B to class A is only one test- combination vehicles (unless you don’t have air brakes yet, then it’s 2-tests), and of course a road test. This is what I suggest, and you can do this on your own, without any school. Just go to your DMV and take those tests (study first). If you pass you will be given a class A Permit. The only other thing to do is take your road test. With this permit you can drive a semi as long as a class A driver is with you. Many companies will hire a class A permit holder. If I were you I would go today to the DMV and get the CDL book, study those two chapters, then take that test tomorrow. You cold be looking for a class A job by tomorrow.

      Good luck,

  21. Nickcoma
    September 7, 2014 at 7:30 am

    Also, if trucking company could you recommend some.


    • September 9, 2014 at 5:32 am

      I can’t recommend any company. As far as I’m concerned they all rip you off. The only exceptions are some local companies, like soda distributors, beer distributors. If you don’t mind hard work, you could try a few of those. You may have to start out as a helper first.

      Good luck.

      • nickcoma
        October 6, 2014 at 6:50 pm

        Thanks so much!! Nickcoma Burch

  22. John
    September 13, 2014 at 8:54 pm

    have been driving for 10 years and thinking about getting a truck and running off load boards i live in Nashville, Tn which is a good lane to start out on. what is the best load board? im thinking about getting a flat bed or step deck.

    • September 14, 2014 at 5:55 am

      Good question John. In this day of modern technology, you need a laptop with a national internet service, and a subscription to several online load boards. Last time I checked, they cost around $29 to $39 each, but it’s worth it to have two or three at first until you find your groove.
      The one that runs the load boards you see at all the truck stops is DAT.
      The next biggest one you’ll want is GetLoaded.
      You might also want to take a look at UShip. They are the ones that do that TV show on A&E called Shipping Wars.
      It’s hard to say which is best. As a general rule, they all try to give out loads that don’t pay much. But in-between those low-paying loads they do have some nice paying runs as well. I would just go for it and take whatever I can get for a little while until you figure out a favorite customer or broker.
      And yes- stepdeck is the way to go- better paying freight.

      Good luck.

  23. Scottie LoneWolf Trucker
    September 17, 2014 at 4:47 pm

    What is considered a “good” cpm for a O/O. I’m thinking about going O/O, I been out here for 3 years. I just want the freedom to go home when I choose.. I’m looking into this company right now, it’s $1.15pm plus a $0.38cpm fuel surcharge. Almost a $1.50pm. I thought I would be able to bank atleast $3,000 a week, but apparently after all the fuel, payments, fees, and other bs, he told me it’ll be more like $1,700. If it’s $1.50pm and at 3000mpw, that’s $4,500pw. Why wouldn’t I be able to bank $3,000?

    • September 18, 2014 at 6:35 am

      Hi LoneWolf,

      Good question. I can’t help but think- is your truck paid off? Or are you signing a lease-purchase deal that charges you by the week? That’s how a lot of these companies get you- they sell you a truck and charge you $450 a week for it- but you could get that same truck at a dealership for $1200 a month, and still have it paid off in less time too.
      In 2003- my first 6-digit year, I made $109,000 while pulling reefer trailers coast to coast. Like you, I made $1.15 a mile plus FSC. In hindsight, I usually cleared about $1600 to $2000 a week. My top week was $6000. I’ll never forget that day. But there were also weeks where I made $400 or even 0 once or twice. The key is- save your money from those good weeks to get you through the bad weeks.
      Let’s face it- $1.15 a mile isn’t that great in this economy. You’d have to consistently run over 3000 miles a week, and that’s hard to find- and even harder to do.
      Here’s a few things to consider…
      With fuel near $4 a gallon, if your truck got 6 MPG it would cost you .66 CPM.
      If your truck is more than a few years old, you will need a repair fund- usually about 6 to 10 CPM, double that for a 10-year old truck.
      You’ll need bobtail insurance- last time I checked, $150 a month, or about 2 CPM.
      If you don’t have your own cargo insurance, they will likely sell you theirs for about $400 a month, or about 4 CPM.
      Then you have a truck payment. If it’s $400 a week, that’s about 16 CPM.
      In this hypothetical situation, that’s about .88 CPM- your cost. So everything above that is profit. Of course, you’ll need an accountant (about $99 a month or 4 CPM), and on top of that you have to pay taxes…
      The key to success as an owner operator is finding the right company to haul for (and save money for your tax bill). There are two ways that I know of to do that.
      One is- You’d do better to sign on with a company that lets you choose your loads from their list of brokers. (Sammons does this, LandStar which has 4-divisions, and maybe Dart, not sure). But you build relationships with these brokers and after a few months you have your rhythm- getting $2-plus a mile freight regularly.
      Two is- Get your own authority and find your own loads. It’s really very easy nowadays with all the load boards online. The same is true- you get to know a few brokers over time and find out where the gravy is. If you go this route, you can solicit loads directly from shippers. I found my best loads this way. When you know there is a regular load, let’s say to San Antonio- Now you need to find a return load. Talk to the shippers you delver to and offer them a good rate for a load going home. Check load board for that return load. If you can set up a load out, followed by a load home, you can have your money and your life.

      Good luck!

  24. Clyde
    September 29, 2014 at 4:28 am

    Hi Ken,
    I really enjoyed reading your articles and comments from other people involved in the trucking industry. I drove both OTR and dedicated for about 10 years when I was younger; dry van, tanker, flat bed, reefer- hauled about everything. I have since been working as a medical professional in a hospital- good $$, but the walls are closing in. Tired of it, the politics, etc.

    I remember how much I enjoyed being on the road. I kept my CDL, and doubles, tanker endorsement- I just dropped the Hazmat why, I don’t know. Probably because I got tired of paying the extra $ during license renewal for nothing.

    I am considering going back to driving, at least for a “mental vacation”. My biggest problem is that I don’t have “recent” experience. It’s been about oh, maybe 20 years? So I am not sure the best way to get back into the trade. I hate to pay the money for a truck driving school when I’ve “been there- done that”. And I know the pay will be considerably less than what I make now- but curious also when am asked, what an acceptable cents/mile rate would be, since I’m not really a newbie.

    And there’s nothing like getting on the road in the morning, with a fresh cup of coffee and no time clock to punch!! There’s good and bad with every job, but being an OTR driver gives you a lot of freedom and you don’t have to deal with overbearing administration/boss breathing down your neck daily. Any thoughts you might have regarding my situation, I would greatly appreciate. Thank you!

    P.S. No health problems, though mainly interested at this point of my life in no-touch freight dry-van. Had enough fun on flat-beds tarping loads and breaking down the covered wagon- tanker, drove with no baffles and no fun when a partial load hits the bulkhead! Just want to jockey up and back the “super-slab”, would be perfectly happy.

    • September 29, 2014 at 10:25 am

      Hi Clyde,

      Ah, yes. There’s nothing like the smell of diesel in the morning, waking up at a truckstop in a strange location. I’m not surprised to hear this, coming from a medical professional. In my years of trucking i have met all kinds of people who wound up trucking- doctors, lawyers, a lot of professional people get sick of the rat race and long for those quiet country roads. I’m one too.

      It’s not easy getting back into trucking after so long. Everybody wants recent experience. Some companies offer a refresher course, where you spend a couple of weeks with another driver, but I think those only count as far back as 5-years not driving. I don’t know though- you’ve been out 20-years. A lot has changed. But if you really feel certain you could get in a truck and go today, safely, then you probably can. Just be careful if you get the opportunity!

      I once went 4-years without driving a truck. And when I got back into one, it was just like old times. I didn’t miss a beat. I might have been a little nervous for about a day, but that was it. I got that job at a local scrap yard. He hired me without recent experience because he only hauled for himself.

      So that’s hint #1- Find small companies that have their own trucks- manufacturers, distributors. These guys haul their own freight, so their business is different from a for-hire carrier. If they like you personally, and believe you that you can drive safely, they can hire you.

      You still have your CDL so that’s a good start. None of the big OTR companies will hire you without some recent verifiable truck driving school or experience. You may have to look for a small, independent company nearby.

      Maybe there’s a guy down the road that owns 4 or 5 trucks with sleepers, he has his own authority and his own loads. These guys often advertise in local papers for drivers. I would start there- get some local newspapers for your area, including nearby towns and counties. And while you’re out getting papers, go through some industrial areas and look for those small companies with a few semi’s with sleepers. They’re out there.

      Another option to consider, and maybe the best choice. If you can afford it, buy your own truck, get your own authority, and get your own customers (or find loads on load boards.) You’ll also need a receivables buyer. Most of these brokers and bigger companies pay their bills in 60-days. If you can’t wait, you can hire a company that will pay you 95% of the bill this Friday. If you have, say, $25,000 that would be enough to buy a $20,000 truck and have $5000 for the rest.

      Good luck!

  25. October 8, 2014 at 8:01 pm

    Hi ken,

    My grammar isn’t the best. can you give us a list of the top 10 paying trucking companies in the USA? I am located in south Florida. Is for my dad he has 20 years of experience but has a terrible paying job.

    • October 10, 2014 at 6:51 am

      Hi Gustavo,

      I don’t know 10, but I’ll mention a few that I think pay well. You also didn’t mention if your dad does flatbed or heavy haul- that’s where the real money is. But I’ll mention some dry-van operations that I am familiar with.

      Heartland Express is my single favorite OTR company for good pay and easy work.
      Super Service isn’t bad at 40 CPM + hazmat and safety bonuses.
      PTL is another one that offers a decent wage (41-CPM) and extra pay for extra work, like $100 for NYC and $50 for anything east of a certain point.
      BarrNunn always talks a big pay game on their commercials, so they’re worth looking at.

      Basically, you want to Google OTR jobs and browse their websites looking for pay packages. They don’t all tell you what they pay. Sometimes you have to make a phone call. It helps to know how much recent experience he has. If he has 3-years recent verifiable experience he will qualify for top pay at any company.
      Good luck,

  26. karan singh
    October 13, 2014 at 11:26 pm

    I work for a small company. I get paid .38 CPM, $25 per stop, $15 per hour detention, $60 layover, a motel stay if I get stuck and am home every weekend. I drive about 3000 miles a week no touch. I am a w2 employee. No insurance, but workers comp is covered and I get one week’s pay (500) per year. Is that good?

    • October 14, 2014 at 7:30 am

      Hi Karan,

      Yes, that sounds like a fine job. The mileage rate might be a little low, and health insurance would be nice (although ObamaCare threw a monkey-wrench into that for a lot of small companies). But detention pay is awesome, especially if you get to sleep while you collect it. (I had a job like that once.) $25 per stop is above average as well, especially for companies that pay detention. And you get 3000 miles and still get home every weekend. It doesn’t get much better than that.

      I’m doing the math… 3000 miles at .38 CPM is $1140, add a few stops and a little detention pay here and there, and you should be in the $50k+ area. That’s decent money.

      There’s more to life than money though. The bottom-line is- If you’re happy, you should stay.

  27. okbay zerai
    October 24, 2014 at 6:11 am

    hi pam call me i would give him more like 32 or more my nuber is 4325991570

  28. okbay zreai
    October 24, 2014 at 6:30 am

    call me we can talk my nuber is 4325991570

  29. james
    October 24, 2014 at 9:27 pm

    is 35% after deducting fuel a good pay

    • October 25, 2014 at 2:15 am

      Hi James,

      35% sounds great. But, any time I hear about percentage pay, I always say- percentage of what? In other words, what do you really make per week? For example, if I gave you 20% of $5000, you’d have $1000. If I gave you 40% of $1000, you’d only have $400.
      Most percantage-paying jobs are about 28% to 32%, with 30% being average. But, like I said, percentage of what? I’ve done well with 28% pay at one job, but not so well with 30% at another. It just depends on what kind of runs they have, what kind of equipment, how often you get home, how happy you are there, and how much you really clear per week.

      However, one scary thing is, I never heard of anyone paying percentage after deducting fuel. You have to tell me more. That sounds like a rip-off. Fuel is the biggest expense of any truck. Any other percentage-paying company I ever heard of doesn’t deduct fuel. The owner always pays for that.

      Good luck,

      • james
        October 27, 2014 at 1:57 pm

        hi ken.this is james about to start driving for a guy who payin me 35% but after taking fuel cost.So if the load pays $3500 but use 500 in fuel then I get paid 35%of the this sound normal.thank you..

        • October 27, 2014 at 3:26 pm

          Hi James,

          No driver should ever have to pay for fuel, unless he was a full partner- 50/50 all the way. Fuel is the biggest expense for a truck. The average OTR truck proibably spends about $1500 to $2000 a week. I’d run away fast from that guy.

          Good luck,

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