**Updated: August 26, 2016** This report lists the best trucking companies to work for if you have a career as a professional truck driver. It looks at the largest national trucking companies to determine the best ones to approach for potential employment. To be employed at a reputable trucking company can make all the difference in a trucking career that nets you great compensation, benefits and job satisfaction. Some of the top truck companies we list in this report should be no surprise, but some will.
If you are seeking truck driver training you will have priorities that focus on getting certified at the most reasonable cost. Experienced drivers will be looking for the best places to exploit their ratings and endorsements and experience. This report will provide you that guidance.
- 1 Deciding to Become a Commercial Driver
- 2 Career Prospects and Salary Ranges
- 3 Measuring Corporate America for Truck Driving
- 4 Top 10 Trucking Companies
- 5 The Best of the Rest
- 6 Training Makes a Difference But How Much?
- 7 Trucking Companies Ratings, Salaries, Size & Location
- 8 In Conclusion
Trucking jobs are out there, as many positions go unfilled each year due to an ongoing shortage of drivers. However, the standards of entry are high. This is an industry where there is an intense focus on safety. After all, when a company hands you the keys to an 80,000 lb. vehicle, full of valuable merchandise or commodities, they want to be confident that it will get where it is going. They also want to be confident that the truck, with their company logo emblazoned on the side of it, will be a good citizen of the road. The expectations are high but truck driving is an enjoyable and rewarding way of life if you are the right person in the right job.
This report looks at what you can expect from transportation and truck driving companies and what their current and past employees think of them. It looks at career prospects and job availability. It draws on information from hours of research, website sources, reference books and our own careers to create a snapshot of the best trucking companies to be employed at as a trucker and driver.
Deciding to Become a Commercial Driver
There are many reasons to become a professional driver and there are also some reasons why this kind of job is not for everyone. Some questions to ask yourself:
- Do you want to be a people mover or freight hauler?
- Do you see yourself as a short-hop shuttle driver, or long distance road warrior?
- Do you want to work independently or be an employee of a truck company?
As far as lifestyle and work environment is concerned you will enjoy it most if you are an independent minded person who loves driving and likes people too. You are going to be around a lot of different people and personality types as a truck driver and that is one of the things that makes it such a great career.
Another characteristic of the job is that you will never have the same day twice. Whether you ride the same route daily or you are dispatched to different destinations from one day to the next, there will always be something that is different everyday. It might be traffic, weather or the load you are hauling but there will always be something going on that makes the drive different each time.
What Kind of Driving Job Do You Want?
Companies tend to specialize in the roles that they do best. Hauling single loads is different from moving less-than-truckload (LTL) cargo and the logistical setup of companies to accommodate each has a different process. Dry or liquid bulk loads are something else again.
One of the defining features of any given driving position is how long your journeys will be. Driving OTR truckloads, pulling vans, flatbeds, or reefer trailers keep drivers away from home for days or even weeks at a time. There are also plenty of shorter-distance driving jobs such as line haul driving jobs that move LTL freight from one depot to another, and back in a day, bringing the driver home every night. Intermodal truck drivers might have even shorter routes and faster turnaround tempos, picking up shipping containers and move them from ships in port to railheads many times a day.
The fundamental question to ask is: How long do you want to be away from home at a time?
Bus or Coach driving demands the highest level of customer service skills as you might be dealing with the general public when they are not at their personal best. If you can handle that it might be an enjoyable opportunity even though the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) says that the mean annual income for a bus driver was around $40,000 in 2015. And the mean annual salary for truck drivers in the U.S. is $40,260 or $19.36 per hour, in 2015.
There are many businesses in the hospitality and travel industries that will hire CDL drivers for shuttle buses and courtesy buses. If there is a major airport in your region there will be driving jobs-a-plenty. Of course they will be local driving work but there might be significant potential for tips when you give great service.
Shuttle Bus driving such as for a rent-a-car company or a parking company will give you a routine with a fixed daily schedule. Delivery and Parcel drivers work hard but get to go home at the end of every shift. For every job description there are pros and cons but the variety means that there is a professional driving job for almost everyone.
Finding Unfilled Truck Driving Jobs
If you have decided to pursue a career in transportation as a driver then that is outstanding! Now What? The first step is to look for a company that will train you or you can head back to school. School options vary significantly from state to state.
Opportunities will likely continue to be good, as there is a growing shortage of drivers. Presently there are a million trucking jobs and 800,000 drivers to fill them. There are predictions based on federal transportation statistics that there will be up to 300,000 truck-driving jobs unfilled by 2020.
Career Prospects and Salary Ranges
Bureau of Labor Statistics research show that the average pay for trucking jobs is just over $40,000 per year. If the demand for drivers continues to go unmet, that is likely to increase in the next few years. Age requirements run from 21 to 25 years of age minimum at the time of application.
By far the most numerous truck-driving positions are for heavy trucks and tractor-trailer rigs. Tractor-trailer drivers had mean earnings around $43,410 per year in 2016, according to the BLS, while light truck and delivery drivers had earnings of around $36,320 per year.
The real money goes to the self-employed contract drivers that haul freight across country. According to CNN Money, independent drivers can clear as much as $150,000 per year after the cost of maintenance and fuel. The price is that to do it, they stay on the road away from home, living in their cabs for most of the year.
The CDL driver wages in the top ten trucking employers, as listed below show that the range of salaries extends upward above the average, ranging from $35,000 on the low end to $80,000 at the top and a mean annual income of $60,000. The one most likely factor that contributes to the high average is that experienced drivers earn more, and they tend to stick with employers where they are contented. The trucking industry has a high turnover rate, and drivers can make more by moving from one job to the next, or staying put when the pay and benefits suit them.
Earning By The Mile And Not The Hour
The trucking industry of the United States has a unique way of paying the workforce by piecework. That means by the mile. Whether you drive OTR or line haul, your pay will be for the distance traveled and not the time clocked. The convention of paying cents per mile (CPM) is a little confusing because the industry regulates drivers by the time they spend out on the road. Additionally, it is not uncommon for drivers to have to wait for loading and unloading or to get access to facilities.
You are going to earn anywhere from $0.23 to $0.60 per mile as an employed driver, depending on many factors. Companies that subsidize training are likely to start new drivers out at lower pay rates. Experienced drivers earn more. Due to the pressure to maintain staffing levels, most trucking companies provide additional pay for the time spent waiting to load or for other services, and they attempt to improve the conditions for their drivers with better quality healthcare benefits and permission to take close family members and pets along for the ride.
Experienced drivers find ways to make the best of the business. The most highly paid drivers are self-employed OTR truckers, independents who own or lease their tractor units and pay all of the operational expenses out of pocket. Others increase their earning potential by driving as teams either as employees or contractors.
Check out our comprehensive trucker’s salary guide for more details.
What Do You Want From Your Employer?
Different people have varied values and needs, to make the assumption that everyone will respond the same is a mistake. That is why this report relies on information that was crowd sourced through the Glassdoor.com employment resources website. It is best if the judgment of a company as an employer is left to the people who actually spent time working there.
The list of largest truck driver employers was used so that there would be the best most even national coverage. There may be some little gems in your neighborhood that are a secret, known only to their workers, but here we are trying to get the big picture and the broadest based assessment of the truck driving jobs market.
What you want from your employer also depends at what point you are in your career as a commercial driver. The best employers know that experienced drivers will come to them and so they do not make the same effort to train the new recruits. They do not have to train; they may have a waiting list of qualified drivers waiting to join them.
Finally, the shortage of truck drivers means that companies will have to try harder by paying for tuition, student loans and directly training new recruits. This may appear to conflict with the idea that the best firms don’t have to try as hard but the average transportation company is going to have to make their job offers more enticing to get enough applicants to fill their open positions.
The shortage of drivers and the way that companies will be forced to respond is going to be good news for anyone who wants to get into the commercial driving industry. If the trend continues, it will be easier to get in and then, as your experience grows, you will have even better options. It also means that companies will have to try harder to retain drivers and that will help to improve the workplace for everyone.
Measuring Corporate America for Truck Driving
This report draws information from The Journal of Commerce and Glassdoor.com to match the top companies with the sentiment of their employees who have given their opinions of their employers freely and anonymously. It is also relevant as to how many employees gave their opinions.
Factors we considered include the average rating on Glassdoor.com, the number of ratings, and average driver salary. The average salary for drivers at the companies of the survey was just over $39,000, whereas the average from BLS national statistics for drivers, tractor-trailer drivers, and light vehicle drivers was just over $41,000.
The score used to determine job satisfaction levels are ratings out of a possible five based on the information submitted to Glassdoor by employees of the companies in question. The numbers of ratings per company factor in with the assumption that more ratings indicate stronger opinions and give a more accurate impression of the workplace.
Factors that are considered here include:
- Average rating
- Number of ratings
- Number of employees
- Location covered
- Average driver salary
The source of salaries for drivers also comes from Glassdoor.com. Although there may not be enough data points to provide an accurate measure of the average, it is worth noting what employees claim to earn. The main point of comparison is the Bureau of Labor Statistics for the job description of tractor-trailer drivers and delivery drivers.
We include Costco, Wal-Mart, and Starbucks here as examples of the major generic companies, who may employ drivers but are not part of the transportation industry and including them gives an indication of how transportation companies rate in comparison.
Trucking Employer Comparison
|Company||Glassdoor Rank||# of Rankings||Salaries for Truckers*||Primary Service||JoC Ranking|
|Old Dominion Freight Line||3.9||196||$69,000||LTL||10|
|Southeastern Freight Lines||3.6||84||$46,000||LTL||25|
|Universal Truckload Services||3.5||48||$37,000||TL||28|
|United Road Service||3.5||40||$83,000||TL||48|
*Salaries are indication only due to small sample sizes and rounded to the nearest $500.00
**Wal-Mart contracts driving services to Crete Carriers Sources: Glassdoor.com and Journal of Commerce (JoC)
Top 10 Trucking Companies
1. Arkansas Best
Good pay goes a long way, and so do great company cultures and values. This nationwide hauler moves less-than-truckload cargoes of packages and commodities across the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico. Eight satisfied employees rate this firm at an average of 4.1, which is a remarkable rating.
2. Old Dominion Freight Line
This hard working company rewards its employees well, and the drivers appreciate it. Old Dominion specializes in less-than-load cargo shipping. Having been in the business for eighty years, they know a thing or two about logistics, supply chain and expedited shipping. They serve the entire country from their base in Thomasville, North Carolina through a network of 200 distribution centers. With the same rating as ACT, they pull ahead based on volume, with 196 ratings, averaging 3.9 each.
The absolutely-has-to-get-there-overnight parcel delivery service has a reputation for passion in their service and their people recommend FedEx as an employer by a margin of three to one. They also have a gigantic fleet of ground vehicles of all sizes that require drivers for parcel delivery and line haul positions.
4. Pitt Ohio
Pitt Ohio delivers freight across North America by the truckload, LTL, and parcel delivery service. Pitt Ohio employees love the company and the CEO has a stellar rating on Glass Door, but the company has a reputation for valuing seniority over hard work at some depots. Like most line haul positions, you can expect to spend long hours on the road every day if you are driving LTL.
5. Prime Inc.
This company has one of the largest fleets of flatbeds, refrigerator and tanker trucks on the roads of the nation. Prime Incorporated is all about long distance driving OTR, so it is a company for present and future road warriors who thrive away from home for long periods. Prime offers paid CDL driver training, and that adds an obligation to stay with the company or pay a penalty for the time cut short.
6. Southeastern Freight Lines
As the name suggests, this less-than-truckload freight-hauling enterprise works in the Southeastern United States as well as Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. They have relationships with companies in other regions that transship across the country. Southeastern Freight Line has a solid rating of 3.6; this is a family owned company that gets high marks for compensation and benefits as well as culture and values.
7. United Parcel Service
The brown trucks and uniforms of UPS are a feature of everyday modern life. Employees appreciate this company for its generous pay packages, in exchange for hard work. The career and promotions are there if you can stick around through the super-busy holiday season at the end of the year. Available positions are limited by low turnover so you will have to be patient. The lesson is that happy employees stick around.
If you want a fast moving environment with excellent pay, you might consider working for UPS. They are the largest employer of drivers, and you will get to go home at the end of every day. Mind you, when you do, you will be exhausted at the end of every day because they expect their people to hustle.
As a UPS driver, you will be under pressure constantly to deliver your route on time, deal with traffic, regardless if it is country roads or the busy streets of Santa Monica or Mid-town Manhattan. In return, you will be well paid, perhaps the best in the business.
The way in at this giant of parcel delivery is to find the nearest UPS transit center and apply for a part-time sorting job. Once you are in, you can work your way up to deliveries. You will need to have your CDL and previous driving experience as consideration for the preferred driving jobs. Brown rates a 3.5 average from 5,765 ratings.
8. Universal Truckload Services
Universal Truckload Services is part of Universal Logistics Holdings, a group that appears to be expanding its business and very popular with its employees also. Universal has comprehensive training and promotes from within. The pace of work is fast, so stress levels are sometimes high, and the benefits packages need development, as you might expect from a rapidly growing company.
9. United Road Services
This national company specializes in car hauling, and that is a well-paid driving job. The company CEO has a high approval rating, but Glass Door reviewers complain about such things as the quality of the equipment and the need for investment. Overall, a happy company that offers rewarding work, hauling cars OTR.
10. Quality Distribution
This company has a reputation that reflects the company name in the minds of its employees, Quality Distribution. The reviewing workers speak of a healthy life/work balance, as well as favorable pay and benefits. The company HQ is located in Tampa, Florida and specializes in moving truckloads of bulk liquids, including oil and gas, and other hazardous materials. The company conducts line haul operations from depots across the United States and Canada; drivers are usually home nightly.
Our Previous Top 10 List (2014-2015)
1. Southern Freight Lines
2. Arkansas Best
4. Interstate Distributor
5. Trimac Transportation Services
6. United Parcel Service
7. Old Dominion Freight Line
8. AAA Cooper Transportation (ACT)
9. Crete Carrier
10. J.B. Hunt Transportation Services
The Best of the Rest
Other Transportation Services Employers Of Note
Costco also hires Class-A drivers. They were the original comparison for an example of a popular employer in the list. If you have your CDL, with five years driving experience, your health card and a clean record they might be worth looking at for a good driving job.
Crete Carrier has a rating of 3.0, and employees respect the company for the leadership, benefits, and opportunity, as well as the culture and values. The company has three subsidiary divisions: Crete Carrier, Shaffer Trucking, and Hunt Transportation.
The Crete family of long distance freight haulers focus on long distance OTR trucking that will take you out on the roads for weeks at a time. They work on contract with Wal-Mart and many other supply chain systems, transporting dry truckloads, temperature controlled and flatbed loads across the lower 48 states. Crete does not train drivers but will work with inexperienced drivers by pairing them with a trainer/instructor for the first few months in the cab.
SAIA rates 3.3 on the Glassdoor scale, they have an excellent compensation package of pay and benefits for its drivers. They hire experienced drivers nationwide and ship throughout North America and Mexico.
Another alternative for a company that trains drivers is the famous bus company of Greyhound. They are still in service across North America and hire driver candidates based on the qualities that would make great drivers and customer service representatives.
Of the companies that use contractors on the list the average Glassdoor.com rating was 3.43 whereas the average rating for employer companies was 2.9, which suggests that drivers are moderately more satisfied with working as contractors for truck companies. They also tend to be better paid.
Most of these companies provide the equipment for the drivers. As long as they stay on the road as much as possible, self-employed drivers can make as much as $150,000 per year, after fuel and other expenses. The experienced driver, who loves being on the road, might find this to be the ultimate solution.
Training Makes a Difference But How Much?
Knight Transportation has announced that it raised pay and bonuses in 2014. Knight is one of the companies that train drivers. While this truckload hauling company did not make the top ten, Glassdoor.com ratings indicate that employees at Knight are contented; of the 194 employees who submitted ratings, the average came in at 3.4 across the board. Employees noted the good condition of the trucks, and they also indicated a recent improvement of management concern for the welfare of the drivers.
One of the complaints about Prime Inc., on Glassdoor, is that the training can be rough; the trainers penalize candidates for mistakes and retakes by adding up to 10,000 miles to the 40,000 miles obligation to repay the program.
For those who are looking for a job that will train you from the ground up, the following list is of companies that train drivers. You will notice that the list does not overlap with the Glassdoor.com list of most highly rated.
Experienced drivers will be in the best position to pick and choose. That is the nature of the industry. Once you are a certified and experienced, say with five years of driving full-time, you will have the first choice of the best jobs in the business.
Employers That Offer Subsidized Training
- Swift Transportation
- FFE Transportation Services
- Prime Inc.
- Roehl Transport
- Knight Transportation
- PAM Transportation
- USA Truck
- C.R. England
- Millis Transfer Inc.
- Driver Solutions
- Stevens Driving Academy of Texas
- Central Refrigerated Services Inc.
- Midwest Coast Transport (MCT)
Trucking Companies Ratings, Salaries, Size & Location
|No. of Employees|
or Hoover's if
|Regions Served||Training Provided|
|3||J.B. Hunt Transport Services||3.2||584||$38,775||18,500||Nationwide|
|5||United Road Service||3.5||40||$83,000||<5,000||Nationwide|
|3.3||73||$60,000||14,100||Independent contractors, nationwide|
|15||R & L Carriers||3.0||159||$50,920||9,400||Nationwide|
|3.2||9||NA||20,000||Independent contractors. nationwide|
|2.8||53||$50,000||2,400||Independent contractors, nationwide|
|3.5||48||$37,000||Independent contractors, nationwide|
|2.9||26||$50,000||900||Independent contractors, nationwide|
|42||Jack Cooper Transport||2.7||26||$57,000||<5,000||Nationwide|
|49||Western Express||1.8||109||$37,000||200||East, Southwest, West|
Source: Journal of Commerce and Glassdoor.com; NA indicates no information available.
We hope that this comprehensive report on the best trucking employers can steer you in the right direction as far as finding a trucking job.
There are plenty of options available for everyone who wishes to become a commercial driver and who can meet the medical requirements. Assuming you are fit, it is just a matter of where there is a will there is a way. The complete novice can seek training and then apply, or apply directly to one of the many companies that will train you for your CDL.
Once you have experience in the industry the shortage of drivers will ensure that you will be able to find work. The types of work are varied and there is probably a job description that suits every CDL holder. Ultimately you can expand your career prospects by entering management or becoming a self-employed contractor. The horizons are as broad as the open road that stretches out before you.
What trucking company do you work for or wish to work for, and what has your experience been so far? Share in the comments.