Pay is one of the key elements that a truck driver looks for in a new job after earning their commercial driver’s license (CDL). Truckers can make more than $72,000 a year*, but the pay structure varies. What a professional driver gets paid is determined by the trucking company they work for and the work they are hired to do. There are also several factors for earning potentials, such as experience level, location, number of miles driven, endorsements, type of haul, and haul range.
Here are some of the most common types of truck driving pay:
Base pay makes up the majority of what a truck driver earns. It is calculated based on the type of trucking you do.
There are four main types of base pay:
1. Pay Per Mile
Pay per mile is one of the most common types across the trucking industry. Often called cents per mile (CPM), this structure pays drivers for the miles they drive and is typical for long-haul truckers. There are several ways to calculate pay per mile, including practical mileage (number of miles in the most efficient route), household goods miles (zip code to zip code), and hub or actual miles (mileage change on the odometer).
While hourly pay is familiar to many drivers because it’s common in other careers, it is less typical in the trucking industry. This pay structure is often used by delivery companies with small driving ranges. Drivers paid by the hour can expect to work with frequent stops, loading and unloading, and regular customer interaction.
Salaried jobs offer truck drivers consistent pay on a weekly or biweekly basis, regardless of the miles they drive. This pay structure is typically only available for local and regional positions.
4. Pay Per Load
Pay per load is the least common type of base pay for truckers. With this structure, drivers earn a flat rate for each load they deliver regardless of hours worked or miles driven. Most jobs that offer pay per load are in the agriculture or oil and gas industries, or are available for owner-operators only.
Additional Truck Driving Pay
In addition to base pay, there are other types of compensation a truck driver can earn depending on a specific situation.
These situations include:
Per diem is a daily allowance given to a driver for any place they stay overnight, meals, and other expenses. Per diem is a form of reimbursement and is not considered taxable income. While a higher per diem wage doesn’t affect your annual income, it does mean you will pay less come tax season.
Detention, Layovers, and Breakdowns
Some companies offer compensation when drivers are stopped for long periods. Detention pay occurs when you are held up at a shipper or receiver, layover pay is given when you have to wait between loads, and breakdowns refer to any issues with a semi-truck that require you to stop and wait for repairs. Compensation for these circumstances varies between companies.
Stop pay is typically offered to drivers who make multiple stops throughout their run, not including the initial or final destination. This type of pay helps over-the-road truckers make up the difference when they have to make multiple deliveries in fewer miles.
Bonuses and Incentives
While base pay makes up the majority of a driver’s income, many companies offer additional compensation through bonuses and incentives. The most common bonuses are for fuel, safety, and inspections, as well as performance and on-time deliveries. Companies also often offer hiring or referral bonuses to incentivize new drivers.
Earn Your CDL in as Little as Four Weeks
If you are interested in a career where you can see the country and earn competitive pay, truck driving may be the right choice for you. At Phoenix Truck Driving School, we can help you earn your CDL and start making money on the road in as little as four weeks. We also offer job placement assistance.
To earn your CDL and hit the road, contact us today.
*Professional truck drivers earn a mean annual wage of $48,310 (https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes533032.htm). The top 10% of truck drivers make more than $72,730 per year according to 2021 Bureau of Labor Statistics.