All drivers of heavy trucks and tractor-trailer rigs take home an average of $42,480 per year and the highest 10 percent earned more than $64,000. However when it comes to the very highest paying trucking jobs, experienced over the road drivers and specialty drivers top the list.
Over the road (OTR) drivers are paid more due to the type of travel, the hours involved and the different laws that must be followed within each state. OTR drivers are held to higher standards because they must deliver a variety of products in a shorter time frame than usual.
Specialty drivers also make the list of high paying truck driving jobs. As the name suggests, specialty drivers have undergone training in order to haul over-sized loads, specialty products, and Hazmat materials. Due to the special training required, these jobs typically pay more. The higher pay, however, means that drivers are expected to stay up to date on industry policy changes, new laws, and any roadway modifications.
Those drivers willing and able to make a large investment up front have the chance to take home a larger paycheck. Some of the best paying trucking jobs are self-employed contract drivers. They haul freight across the country and can make $150,000 per year after the cost of maintenance and fuel. Self-employed drivers are in control of their salary; they must be hardworking and stay on the road for the majority of the year in order to earn a bigger paycheck.
While ice road truckers may have the hardest job, they also reap the most rewards in just a few months. Ice road truckers are required to face long routes, 75% of these north of the Arctic Circle. This means they battle hazardous road conditions that include frequent storms, occasional ‘white outs’ and -40-degree temperatures. The hard work can be worth the reward; in just a three-month season, ice road truckers can bring home $120,000.
If long drives and cold temperatures aren’t appealing, there’s still hope. Truck drivers who belong to a union are paid higher due to the rules the union has in place. Increases in pay can be expected. However, unions have dues and terms of their own. Drivers must follow a different set of rules in addition to industry standard rules and regulations.
The demand for drivers continues to go unmet which means the average salary is likely to increase in the upcoming years. If you already have your CDL start your job search now. To get started in a truck driving career, find a truck driving school near you or fill out the form anywhere on the website.