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Truck Driver Salaries

By now you already know that driving a truck for a living takes a special type of person. If you aren't good at staying awake on long trips or spending hours - and even days - sitting behind the wheel of a vehicle, then a career as a truck driver may not be for you.

But if you feel you have what it takes to make it in this industry, companies are more than willing to really make it worth your while. There aren't many businesses in the country today that don't rely on materials and supplies to be delivered to them by truck. While many drivers handle the job by driving solo, there are more and more driving teams working for trucking companies. Drivers working as part of a team allow the cargo to get to the destination in half the time because the driving time is split between two drivers. One driver sleeps while the other drives, allowing the truck to keep moving and covering twice the distance in the same amount of time that a solo driver would take.

Transporting cargos by truck is the primary method that businesses use to get supplies and materials from warehouse to store and from manufacturers to shippers. This isn't expected to change any time in the foreseeable future, so the number of jobs for truck drivers is expected to keep on growing.

Truck drivers who handle mostly local and regional cargo pick up and delivery are usually paid by the hour and can generally be assured of spending their evenings at home with their families. Extra pay can be picked up for working overtime in most cases, especially around the holiday seasons. Long-haul drivers usually specialize in cross-country cargo pick up and delivery and are generally paid by the mile. They are usually on the road for days at a time so can't always count on being home in the evenings or even on weekends. Different companies pay different rates per mile so it pays to look around before settling on working for a company that may not pay as well as others. Sometimes this rate can change depending on the cargo that's being carried.

Where the Money's At

Long-haul truck drivers can expect to make anywhere between $33,871 and $43,307 annually, depending on a variety of factors such as the company you work for and the length of time you've been there. For drivers just starting out in the industry, the average hourly wage is $14.33 with the rate going up as you get more experience on the road and behind the wheel. Drivers with ten or more years of experience can expect to earn $17.95 an hour, while those drivers who have been with the company for over twenty years can receive upwards of $18.50 per hour.

Drivers who handle general freight earn the higher hourly rates ($18.38) compared to specialty trade contractor drivers who earn approximately $14.94 per hour. While the lower rate is nothing to complain about, from a truck driving point of view the difference in the rate comes down to the type and amount of work that is required. Jobs that have the higher pay will always have the most competition to be filled and though companies generally slow down their hiring when the economy takes a dip, truck drivers are seldom out of work for very long - if at all.  

Some Rates for Different Trucking Jobs

Truck drivers who handle loads in light trucks or delivery vans can expect to earn on average of $12.17 an hour, with overtime pay for extra work usually being available - especially during holiday delivery times. While some light delivery drivers can earn up to $21.33 an hour, this is usually reserved for more senior and experienced drivers working a set route in a city or region. Courier drivers who generally handle parcels and packages rather than pallets full of merchandise, can expect to earn $17.80 an hour. Again, this rate can go up as you gain more experience or work overtime hours.