Truck Driver Salary: Average Truck Driver Pay Per Mile
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.
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Good question Josh. I might just write that article next. Basically, it works like this… Buy a truck, find enough work to keep it busy, hire a driver for it. Buy another truck, find enough work to keep it busy, hire a driver, etc. Some people use load boards to find the work. Others find their own customers. Others sign on with a bigger trucking company. I know one guy who built a fleet of over 50 trucks that all work for US Xpress.
Thanks for the info. In your opinion, how many loads per week does a local flatbed driver usually haul on a Mon-Fri schedule?
It’s hard to say because every company is different. I think most local flatbed drivers probably do one to three loads a day if they go home every night. I used to drive locally for a siding company, and I would do one load a day, but it usually had about 3 to 6 stops to unload at. By the end of the day I’d be empty and heading home.
thank you Ken that was helpful
I just wanted to say reading your blog has helped me open my eyes to the roads ahead of me, I am 53 i live 35 minutes west of chicago and i am currently in attending trucking school 1 more week and i am done. I have been approached by many recruits and your blog helps on what ? to ask. I would like to drive for a company who can get me home evry week for at least 2 days home maybe 2 Weekends home a month 2 would be nice. i also want a good 401 k and at least 32-34 cpm. i am looking for a company that hires new drivers. i have a lot of miles under my belt pulling trailers and straight trucks not cdl. . parts delivery in calif. your right about TMC. they gaurantee $1000 a week to start and 26- 36% plus bonus and are employee owned. the only thing is Tarping your load and i think thats a young mans game.they do get you home every weekend if thats what you want.
I would like to know what swift pays cpm because thats who i am training thru at eagle trucking. would also like to know about companies where i can get lower state runs in winter and upper in summer. i dont like the winters here i am from calif. well thanks again Ken.
35 minutes west of Chicago- there are a lot of good paying jobs around there, not only to get you home every week, but even every day. You should think about driving a dump truck locally. There are some big paying union asphalt jobs around there- Arrow Road in Mt Prospect, Plote in Elgin comes to mind. Some of these will take a new CDL driver with years of safe driving like you. They’ll pay about $28 an hour and you’ll be home every afternoon.
If you really want to do long haul and only be home on weekends, there are a lot of choice there too. You should check Craigslist. I remember seeing some really good paying OTR jobs on there in that area. (I’m in NW Indiana and lived in Chicago for many years myself.)
Take your time looking. Ask a lot of questions. The most important thing is- know what you want. because that is exactly what you’ll find. If good pay is more important that home time, if OTR is more important, if hometime on weekends is- whatever you want, really write it down and ask them all.
I did a few winters with CFI (very similar to Celadon), they go to Laredo a lot. Most companies that go to Laredo a lot will have you going north and south most of the time. This will be the mild way to face winter. You’ll be in and out of the bad weather.
Yeah, forget TMC and tarping. That’s a young mans game. Drive a dry van. You won’t work as hard (unless you are delivering meat or tires.)
33 years driving, done or tried it all!
Forget OTR. Forget owning a truck unless you like long hours, all the headache, chasing down your money, and robbing Peter to pay Paul!
Go work for an established LTL company that has benefits. IE old dominion. Yellow freight(YRC) saia, UPS, or one of the many companies that pay well and let you get home. Yes, you will need hazmat, doubles, and possibly tanker endorsements. BUT these companies pay a rate that NONE of the OTR companies can match. For example: Old dominion, and Saia are up to or over .59 cent a mile now for line drivers and over $24. An hour for local. Union companies can be even more. Plus LTL has the best benefits in trucking. Just my advice.
But if you really want all that independence of being your own boss, and you can stand to work for little compensation go buy a truck!!
That’s some good advice Greg. I agree with everything you said, but there are a few exceptions. The best money I ever made trucking was when I was an owner operator for Sammons (that was OTR, heavy hauling). I made $109,000 one year. But all of my next best years were with local companies and unions. 7up in Chicago I made $75,000 and I was home every day, sometimes early too. (I busted my ass humping all that pop though.) And a union asphalt company (I drove a dump truck local), I made $50,000 from March to November, and had winter off.
I wrote an article about that too- http://bigcitydriver.com/2015/01/how-to-find-a-good-paying-local-truck-driver-job/
I didn’t even think about LTL, but that’s definitely some good advice. Thanks for the tip.
LTL is the way to go! I pull doubles and triples. .64 cents a mile. They let you run as hard as you want, home when you want, benefits are great! I pulled down 114,000 last year and had a blast doing it!
Very nice. That’s what I like to hear!
Thanks for all the info, Ken. I lease a few trucks to a great independent company based in Nashville, TN specializing in OTR hauls. It is run by a good friend of mine who is a good man, treats his drivers fairly, gives them as many miles as they want (3,000-3,500 per week is the norm) within the law, and runs his business very similar to the way Sam described. We are growing rapidly and are always looking for dependable drivers who want to build their business with us, and I am a firm believer in treating people well and rewarding loyalty and dependability. I would much rather build a thriving business around integrity and mutual respect and keep drivers for years than just be a revolving door like so many companies seem to be, and many drivers seem to expect. If I’m making a good living then my drivers should be, too. If any drivers looking for a good place to call home, please feel free to shoot me a message. Individuals or teams welcome. I don’t mean to spam your board, so feel free to remove the message if it comes off that way.
Thanks Sean. I’m sure some readers would appreciate that. You email is not public. Anyone can reply to your comment here though.
i am in school right now and want to ask who is your company ,what do you start graduates at if you do,what are you hauling and what kind of trucks are you driving,how is the scale of pay? percentage of cpm. i have found out that TMC company gives you the option of pay choice. driver gets a percentage of the load and makes what is equaled to 42-45cents per flatbed load.Ken can you say something on the percentage pay??
please respond !
I’ll be happy to talk about percentage. There’s an important question to ask in the percentage-pay business… “Percent of what?” In other words, one guy night make 30% of $1.05 a mile. (He’s making 31.5 cents per mile.) While the next guy is getting 28% of $2.50 a mile. (He’s making .70 a mile.) Do you see what I mean? Less percentage of more money can equal more pay.
I can’t really say what is better- percentage or mileage, because it depends on a lot of things. I have made good money with percentage at one company and bad money at the next. Most of the big companies (like TMC) pay percentage for a reason. And that reason usually is, to share the losses. In other words, when TMC has a bad week, so do you. Of course, when they have a good week, so do you too. I don’t know enough about TMC to comment on them specifically.
All I can say is, give it a try. You have to earn your miles somewhere. It may as well be with them. You could try talking to some TMC drivers who have been there a while. They’ll fill you in on what’s what.
The company is Tennessee Transportation. I don’t think we’ve got any graduates working for us right now, but if you are interested I can see if that would be a possibility. Most of our drivers with 2+ years of experience are earning in the 35-40 cents per mile range. We do not pay on percentage mainly for the reasons that Ken described – we think the drivers should be paid for the amount they are driving regardless of how we might be doing. A lot of the drivers that end up driving for us tell us they were lured into driving with some of the larger companies via some deceptively high price per mile promises that come with a lot of conditions (also known as loopholes) and say they end up making more with us in the long run. We just shoot straight from the beginning and then reward consistency and dependability with higher mileage rates.
I hope that helps!
Hello Sean my name is chris And I’ve been driving trucks sense 2000 I have drove everything from log trucks, refers, dry, some flat bed, rolls .I have also drove for the oilfield for 4 years hauling some containers, equipment, pipe, generators etc in general I would love to get back into moving equipment again and doing heavy haul you can email me at email@example.com or call me at 501-764-8552 thanks
William Bartlett Reply
My name is William Bartlett I have been driving for over 25 years and I’m sick of empty promises. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org Sincerely William Bartlett
This is a tough business with lots of regulations. I work with the regulations end to make them easier to deal with and “level the playing field” so that drivers and small companies like yourself get a fair chance of making a good wage. Contact me if you would like to know more.Good luck and safe driving!
Keith, I was interviewed to drive a 24 ft stakebed truck for a big company. What should I ask for per hour? So. Cal. Experienced driver.
This question is really a personal one. Everybody is different, and every company is too. If I had to pick a number, I’d say $20 an hour. But if I thought they were union, I’d say $28. Don’t ever be afraid to say what you really need. If you can’t survive on $14 an hour, and that’s what they pay, it wasn’t going to work out for you anyway, so just tell the truth- what do you really want or need to make? If you said $25, and they said all they can do is $15, you will still likely get the job as long as they like you (and if you really want it.)
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.
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.
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!
Hey ken how are you this afternoon ? Was just wondering what’s the industry on hourly pay ? People n companies are going lower lowere everyday ! Some companies only wana pay 13/15 dollars an hour that’s horrible I been driving for 10 years almost ! And when they ask u how much you want and you tell them 17/19 dollars an hour they freak out
Here’s what the government says average hourly pay is (about $18 to $20 an hour)- http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes533032.htm (There’s some nice area maps there too if you click around the site.)
It’s been my experience that it depends on where you live. On the low end you have FL, AL, MS, AR. On the high end is IL, OH, PA, TX, WY.
CA varies a lot- Northern CA pays better than southern CA. NY pays better outside of NYC. But most other cities pay more than their country areas.
That’s how I see it. Thanks for stopping by.
You are so right they feel we should pay more for every thing even when we run the county and without trucking the will Stop everything here we should be treated better than this we should ba less for fuel and insurance and helth insurance .if we stick together.for this we will do alot for truck driver who works hard everyday.
so whats the name of your company… and do you hire drivers from other states
James Smith Reply
I will have my cdl in 3 weeks and I’m looking for over the road work, My contact info is 989-501-4048 and my name is James
Lisa Smith Reply
Hi my name is Lisa Smith my fiancee is working for western express in Tennessee. He was suppose to work Regional. She he started training he was making $500.00 a week after first 6 weeks he went from $500.00 to $200 or less a week. He says that when he goes to pick up big loads that some times it takes them up to 6 to 8 he’s then it takes him an hr to tarp i .I can’t understand if ur a trucker how u only bringing home $200.00 or the most $300.00 a week .less than it training pay. He’s not getting good runs pay home time truck always breaking down. His DM going on vacation not giving him runs. Can u please give me some advice please. He started in April this year Nd his weekly pay is dropping he says their only giving him 600 to 800 miles a week. Can u please give me some advice. He’s a flat bed driver coast to coast. At one point they didn’t pay him for 3 weeks. We r very behind on our mortgage bills very bad no income to survive. He’s scared to quit cause of a contract he signed with them. Thank you any advise will help.
Lisa, have him go become a temp driver… I always made the most from temp work and most think it’s temp but it’s not! I make 20.00 an hr, OT after 40, layover (non taxed pay) and I get as many hours as I want. I work on the east side and the benefits are good too. Last week… net was 1310.00
It’s so worth it and I’m only gone 2/3 times a week.
Tarron Gray Reply
Hey it sounds like a good company u are with would u mind telling me what company that is.
My temp company is local in one state. check out temp companies near you, tell them you want a dedicated account.
if he likes OTR and flatbed tell him to go to TMC… research them. They pay 60k easy…
ken how much can you expect to make your first year driving
The average first year is probably around $30,000 to $35,000. But, if you carefully investigate a bunch of companies you could get lucky and land a job where you could make $40,000 or even $50,000 your first year.
Those good paying jobs are NOT the big OTR companies you find in all the trucking magazines. You find those by looking locally- in newspapers, talking to drivers, even a phone book. Good paying trucking jobs don’t have to advertise. They fill all their openings by word of mouth.
is 35% after deducting fuel a good pay
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.
hi ken.this is james again.im 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 3000.do this sound normal.thank you..
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.
call me we can talk my nuber is 4325991570
hi pam call me i would give him more like 32 or more my nuber is 4325991570
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
Also, if trucking company could you recommend some.
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.
Thanks so much!! Nickcoma Burch
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.
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.
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?
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.
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?
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.
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,
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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?
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.
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 extra for New York City
Yearly safety bonus
Additional 1 cent per mile for 2500+ miles
DEDICATED, REPETITIVE & OPEN BOARD Available
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
Also no money down required.
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.
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
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?
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.
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
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.
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 no.tickets 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?
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.
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?
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.
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.).
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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!!
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.
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
on percentage thats almost 3.00 a mile
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
Ive recently been looking into driving since I spoke with a guy who transported cars from New York to Miami. I want to know how much classes will cost me in Virginia and how soon I’ll be able to start driving.
I can’t tell you how much it costs because it depends on where you go. You could go to a Community College for a couple hundred or even less, and it could take 6-months to get your CDL. An independent truck driving school might cost $4000 or $5000, and could take 2 to 4 months. Those are the only two options I recommend, other than getting your CDL on your own.
Yeah, you could simply go to your DMV, get the study guide, study it, take the test tomorrow, and have your CDL Permit tomorrow. Of course, you will still need to take a road test to get your CDL, but many companies, especially local ones, will hire you with just a permit. If you really want to get to work as soon as possible, that’s what I recommend.
I never transported cars, but I heard those guys make great money, especially those out of the NJ, NY area.
Ken,I agree with you about going to a independent Trucking school.Thats what I did in 2001.The only thing that I did the math ,there are a cpl companies that only make you sign a contract for less than a year and pay for your school tuition up to $7000.If someone gets an offer for atleast .33 cents a mile they would be making as much or more than going to a company that doesn’t pay for your tuition.So if someone has a big tuition to pay back,they would be better off going to a company that pays it off and only sign a contract for 9 monthes to 1 year.
Yeah, there is a point at which the math makes a difference. But it will be very hard to find a company that lets you work for 9 months at .33 CPM. It’s out there, I’m sure. But not easy to find. Plus, you don’t know if you will be happy there. They might take advantage of you knowing you can’t quit- and send you on the runs nobody wants- like far away places with no return freight and you have to wait for days to get your next load. There’s a lot of value in being able to pack it up and move on when you feel the need to. But I do agree in principle, the math doesn’t lie.
Thanks for bringing that up.
Ken, I have a class A cdl with hazmat & tanker, I don’t work for any company. What I do is, if somebody needs something picked up, say they need a backhoe or whatever picked up in TN & hauled to CO using their equip, if things break down or any kind of problems i.e. breakdowns I can also take care of that. My question is what would be a fair wage, for them & me?
This is tough to answer without asking a bunch of questions first. But, in general, I would say a job like that should pay about $200 to $300 a day- IF you are not using your own vehicle for long distance travel. If you are using your own vehicle, it should be twice that ($400 to $600 a day).
Thank you for the responce & advise. That is almost the exact numbers I came up with. It is good to know I was on the right page.
thank you again.
A friend and myself are looking into team driving we had been contacted by CR England. I read some of your earlier comments and I know how you feel about driving schools like CR. My question is what are the chances of finding a good team driving job if we both go to independent driving schools at the same time. Also do you know what kind of regulations team drivers face as opposed to individual drivers. My final question was this, I had heard that as a team driver you can make more money because you can rack up much more miles in a week. Is this true and do you think its better to run team drivers if it is someone you know and you know you will get along with.
A solo driver can drive just as many miles as a half team. In general, team drivers make a little more than solo drivers for one reason- the company has more run-choices for teams, so they stay busier that their solo counterparts. Think about it- if you have a bunch of coast to coast runs that have to get there in 2 days, you have no choice but to put a team on it. All OTR companies love to hire teams. It doesn’t matter if you went to their school, or an independent one. The tricky part is, having the right amount of experience to get hired. Many will not hire a driver right out of school. So your choices are limited at first. But once you and your team-mate get a full year experience, many doors will open up for you.
I never could drive team because I have a hard time sleeping when the truck is bouncing down the road. I need my quiet time each night. Running teams is hard work. There will be many days that you are wide awake, but it’s not your turn to drive. Then later, when you’re ready to go to bed, it’s your turn to drive all night. It’s tough. It’s also very tough to find someone you get along with. In your case it sounds like you have that already. The main reason I suggest going to an independent school is because you will make more money right away, and have more available job choices day-one.
Thanks for the advice. My friend and I have turned down CR England and are looking into the independent school route. It is much appreciated thanks again.
Hi Ken, seriously thinking about going into trucking for some job security. I know I can probably get a grant and go to my local community college for schooling. My problem is that I have four children and I really don’t want to be away from them all the time. What I really want to do is find a job where I can be home nightly. Is that possible with no experience, or would you suggest doing a year otr first?
It’s not easy to find a trucking job that get’s you home every day, but they do exist. You have to make up your mind and just keep looking until you find it. There are a lot of local trucking jobs out there that will get you home often, but OTR jobs will keep you out for weeks at a time. I suggest checking into construction. Asphalt drivers and gravel haulers (same truck- a semi-dump truck) usually pay very well, and get you home every day. You might also want to try some route-sales jobs. Go to your local huge grocery store and watch the back door at about 7AM to 9AM. Talk to the drivers making deliveries and you just might find what you’re looking for. You have a better chance of getting hired by a local company than you do an OTR company at first simply because OTR companies follow the letter of the law a little closer.
Thanks a bundle for your forum. I’m considering buying a truck and trailer and hiring a driver. I don’t drive and won’t drive the truck as I just want to run the the business. I’m a female with no trucking experience. A colleague who is an owner operator suggested I buy the truck and trailer and run under his authority as a sub company to his company. The offer is that he’ll use his own brokers, dispatch and stuff like that.
He wants a percentage of every load. Do you think this is the way I should go or should I sign on with a company instead as that is steady loads. What percentage do you think is reasonable for me to accept should I go my colleague’s route?
As well, what is the best way to recruit a driver? I am willing to pay .40 cpm to my driver.
Many thanks as I await your reply.
It sounds like you have a good plan. Your owner operator friend is probably just the guy to help you get started. It’s hard to discuss what percentage is acceptable, because the question is always there- percentage of what? In other words, if a load pays $2.80 a mile you can probably afford to live on 60%. On the other hand, if it only paid $1.10 a mile, even 90% wouldn’t be enough. You should always know your bottom line- the amount of money it actually costs you to run your truck. .40 CPM is decent pay, unless you’re pulling flatbed trailers that require the driver to tarp. Drivers have a bottom line too- and it usually goes by weekly pay, not per-mile pay. And it also depends on where you live. For example, in Chicago .40 CPM is not that much, but in Kentucky it’s great. Your local newspaper should be a good place to run an ad for a driver. There are a lot of variables in this industry. The best thing I can say is- do a lot of research, as a lot of questions, and have a Plan B.
Thanks for replying Ken. I appreciate that. I live in Atlanta, GA. At this time I want to explore all the available options. It’s good that my friend is there to help. My concern is that he seems to be expecting me to be overly friendly towards him ever since the proposal of going into business. This irritates me a lot.
I am a business woman and this is strictly business. It makes me uncomfortable that he is coming on to me and I’ve made it clear that I’m not interested in anything other than our friendship and business. I’m quite uncomfortable now in going forward and wonder if you could recommend any good companies to sign on with in my region. I have worked out somewhat of a bottom line. I will be buying the truck cash (used, reliable and economical) so won’t have truck payment overhead. My fixed expense will be the driver, fuel, insurance, tolls, scales and admin stuff.
I’m trying to pay myself too so it is important the figures makes sense. What do you think I should be asking when approaching a company to lease my truck to? Are there some that will take care of everything down to the fuel and just pay a percentage of the gross? What do they mean by 100% fuel surcharge to the owner operator?
Thanks a bundle again….
Hey, I had a quick question about the Industry, I just needed a little insight. When companies say they pay per mile, how’s what exactly does that mean pay check wise? For instance, if a company pays .28 cents per mile, how much would that equal out to if your drove 1000 miles? And what determines how much a driver can actually drive ?(besides the 70 hour restriction)
Good questions John. .28 cents per mile equals $280 in driver pay, before taxes. An average driver can usually drive about 2500 miles per week. If his pay was .28 CPM he would gross $700. By today’s standards this is very low pay. Most companies pay .32 to .45 CPM.
To address your final question- A lot of things can disrupt the drivers’ expected pay, keeping him from being able to get the miles needed for a good paycheck at the end of the week- Delays at shippers can sometimes take most of a day. Truck breakdowns can ruin your week as well. A driver often gets empty in the morning, but the next load they find for him picks up the next day, or has to deliver a day later than he would have liked to, causing him to basically lose a day’s pay. Things like this happen all the time. So when I say 2500 miles average, I’m saying this week might be 3500 miles, but next week could be 1500 miles. A driver might make $1500 one week, and $450 the next. Some jobs don’t have a bad week as often as others.
Driving for prime is good, they keep me rolling. As for getting paid for unpaid miles, prime will pay some of them but thats totally up to the individual fleet managers. I cant speak about the others but mine has been pretty good so far.
Cool. I’m considering going to their school here in a week or so
Hey ken I just moved from different country and I am only 22 yrs old and have been driving from last 6 yrs bt in usa Ihave license from laat 4 months and m intrested in getting cdl today I walked in a school and ask them they said I could get cdl bt no assurity of job from their side and I am best in driving I can drive any vehicle what do u suggest if I got my cdl cn I get job with good pay or not ….. mac. Thanx
Since you already have a CDL I think you should just look for a job, forget about school. Try to find a local job. Look for beer and soda drivers, milk drivers, etc. You will find them delivering to a large grocery store about 8AM. Just go watch the back door of your local grocery store about 7 or 8 AM and ask the drivers where to apply. Then check your phone book for movers, dairies, distributors, delivery services. Make some phone calls and you will find a job.
My son went to school at Roadmasters. He is currently just shy of having 1 year otr experience. Has a good record, no wrecks. He is currently driving for Western Express and making mostly between .18 and .22 cents a mile. His average take home pay per week is $300 or less. Does he need more experience to get a higher per mile rate or where does he search for a company with better mileage pay. I know what recruiters say but these companies don’t always follow through with what they promise.
Wow, I’m shocked he’s still getting such a low pay after all this time. I could understand if he went to Western Express truck driving school, but Roadmaster is an independent school, so he had some choices about where to work. Already now, even though he has less than a year, he should be able to make a few phone calls and find a job that pays twice that. If he hangs in there to get the full-year experience he will have many more choices, but there are a lot of companies that will pay 32 to 39 cpm for just a few months experience. I suggest he pick up a few of those free trucking magazines at a truck stop and start making some calls.
I wouldn’t worry too much about recruiters lying- they do sometimes, but as long as you ask a lot of questions, and clearly clarify the important ones, you shouldn’t have a problem.
Ken, i drive for prime, its true they psy solo company drivers .42 per mile. I have an issue with them about unpaid miles. I know there will be some unpaid miles no matter where you drive. My question is what is the industry average and is 12% of my miles being unpsid too many?
That’s probably about average. I’ve seen worse.
How do you like driving for prime. how do you go about getting paid for any unpaid miles?
Thank you ken
Ken how can I start my own trucking company ?