Truck driver pay is not as simple as looking at a median income for all truck drivers.
When discussing average truck driver pay we have to break down the numbers by specific job type because pay varies greatly between them. If the pay is not broken down we have a very skewed median income of about $37,000. This is a very inaccurate number for a number of reasons including extremely high turnover rates among long haul trucking companies.
Long haul truck driver pay can be separated by what type of trailer they pull.
Dry Van Trailers – These drivers are the lowest paid of all drivers for a number of reasons. Freight hauled in dry vans is generally low paying and the profit margins are very small. Another factor contributing to low driver pay is the high competition among companies for freight. There are more dry van trailers in the United States than any other type of trailer. Most of the large trucking companies pull dry van trailers at highly competitive pricing often driving the margin down to a few cents per mile.
Average Dry Van Truck Driver Pay: $37,170
Refrigerated Trailers – The advantage of pulling a refrigerated trailer is that the driver my haul dry, refrigerated or frozen freight. But when taking on the extra cost of fuel and maintenance for the refrigerator unit there is still not much more profit left than what a dry van makes. On average these truck drivers are paid slightly higher than dry van drivers.
Average Refrigerated Truck Driver Pay: $39,667
Flatbed Trailers – Freight can vary greatly from raw materials, finished products and machinery. Flatbed truck drivers must secure their loads using special equipment and most loads require tarping to protect against weather. Flatbed freight has a higher profit margin when comparatively speaking to refrigerated and dry van freight. Flatbed drivers also require extensive training.
Average Flatbed Truck Driver Pay: $49,880
Oversize Loads – Truck drivers pulling oversize loads have to deal with many government regulations, special routing and often have a team of pilot and chase cars with them to help warn motorists. Only flatbed drivers with extensive experience and training are hired for oversize freight hauling companies. Average driver pay is extremely difficult to compute due to the vast difference in types and sizes of loads hauled.
Average Oversize Load Truck Driver Pay $55,404 – $85,000
LTL and food service truck driver pay
LTL (Less Than Truck Load) – LTL drivers make many pick-ups and deliveries on a regular assigned route. Some LTL drivers may also have a regular shuttle route to move truckloads but are often home every night. The profit for LTL companies is higher than long haul companies and allows them to pay higher wages to their drivers. These are highly sought after positions within the trucking community.
Average LTL Truck Driver Pay: $59,000
Food Service – Food service drivers make deliveries to restaurants and other food related establishments. This can be a lucrative, high profit operation depending on the client that is being delivered too. A good portion of food service drivers are home every night and enjoy good pay. The work can be physically demanding as each driver must unload his trailer by hand.
Average Food Service Truck Driver Pay: $60,000 +
Dump Trucks – The pay for dump truck drivers and other construction vehicle drivers can range widely from employer to employer and dump truck type. End dump, belly dump and tipper trailer operators are often paid an hourly rate.
Average dump truck driver pay: $24,000 – $50,000
Note: Region, size of fleet and other factors can also play a large part in how much a truck driver may earn.
Many large long haul trucking companies average a 97% driver turnover rate in a single year while LTL and Food service companies enjoy a low 0% to 30% turnover rate. The 97% turnover rate among large long haul trucking companies is mostly due to low pay, time away from home, poor living conditions, media bias and poor treatment of drivers.