Getting a trucking job is easy, but it’s not so easy to figure out if you’ve found one of the best-paying jobs out there. If you have a CDL and can drive a truck of almost any kind, you can always find a job with a trucking company. With a good-paying job as a truck driver, you can pay your bills, save for the future, and pay off any debt you already have.
A truck driver makes an average of $45,260 a year. On the other hand, because we’re talking about the lowest-paying CDL jobs, the income scale can go as low as $28,160 a year. People who make less than $40,000 a year are in the bottom 10% of drivers.
Truck driver pay varies by region, type of truck, and level of experience. A driver with a full-time job makes an average of $45,000 to $60,000 a year. So, here is our list of the jobs that pay the least to the jobs that pay the most, in that order. This way, you can avoid the jobs that pay less and look for the ones that pay more.
Least Paying to Best Paying CDL Jobs
Ice Road Drivers
Salary: $19,000 to $85,000 per season (3-4 months)
As a trucker who drives on the ice, you’ll need a lot of experience and a good record of safe driving. You’ll also need to know a lot about a lot of different types of equipment like flatbeds or oversized loads or hazardous materials or dry vans or reefers.
These drivers take on a lot of risks as they drive through dangerous road conditions and risky terrain to get cargo to remote mining operations and towns. During a few short months of the year, these loads are at their best. During that time, these drivers make a full year’s salary, giving them time to look for other jobs or enjoy their time off.
Salary range: $23,000-$96,500 per year
Somebody has to take the liquid waste and other things that come from oil and gas drilling away from the site. As a water hauler, your job is to drive a trunk or tanker and move these liquids to and from the oil field in a tanker.
You also have to make sure that your truck is in good working order, which means that you have to perform safety inspections and have it serviced on a regular basis. Also, water truck haulers help with road surfacing projects by delivering water.
Salary: $36,000 to 60,000 or more
Hazmat drivers have to be on high alert at all times. Any accident that happens with their loads could cause a lot of damage and death, as well as a lot of time and money for the driver and his or her company. Hazmat drivers also have to pass a background check from the TSA and get more endorsements while following more state and federal rules.
Hazmat drivers usually make a lot more money than drivers of standard dry vans, reefers, or flatbeds because they need special equipment and have to deal with more risks and requirements when transporting hazardous materials.
Mining Industry Drivers
Salary: $24,500 to 97,500
These drivers work with huge dump trucks in mining and quarrying. These drivers are too big to legally drive on any road, but they still have to be very productive while on the clock. At the same time, they must drive safely in an area where smaller commercial vehicles and company equipment are present.
There are places outside of the mining industry where these trucks can be found. These places use or handle a lot of raw materials like clay, cement, and other goods that are used at the beginning of our country’s industrial chain.
Salary: $13,000 to $78,000
Team drivers are the best way to get a lot of things done quickly and far away. A team is usually made up of two drivers in the same truck. They drive in shifts to keep their load moving up to twenty-two hours a day, and they usually work together.
To give you an idea of how big a difference this makes, think about how long it usually takes a single driver to drive from coast to coast. A team can make the same trip in three days. Companies that need this kind of fast delivery pay more for the service, and the drivers who work for them get paid a lot more money.
Specialty Vehicle Haulers
Salary: $42,000 to 100,000
Specialty vehicle haulers move high-value or unique vehicles like race cars, luxury cars, collectibles, and other valuable items, usually in a trailer that is closed. They must be very careful at all times not to damage these high-value loads. Even when they’re parked, these drivers must take extra steps to make sure the load isn’t damaged by another driver’s carelessness, and they must follow special procedures to keep the load safe from theft.
Salary: $21,000 – $68,500
Oversized loads, also known as over-dimension loads, are bigger than the standard size set by federal regulations. Oversized haulers must be very good at moving large loads, like construction equipment, wind turbines, mobile homes, and industrial machinery. Most of the time, an escort team is needed, but some companies make the driver hire their own escort team.
Because these big things are usually very expensive, extra insurance and other safety measures are needed, which means that the driver who is behind the wheel of these huge loads is going to get paid more.
Liquids / Tanker
Salary: $31,000 to 74,500
These are the people who drive water, gasses, fuel, and more. A mistake with hazmat liquid loads like gasoline or liquid propane can cause huge fireballs and extreme heat. For liquids and tanker drivers, acid and deadly fumes are also part of the risk package.
Other drivers often give them a wide berth when they see them on the road. Liquids and tanker drivers get a lot of money because they transport very dangerous materials and show a lot of skill when they move them safely.
Salary: $87,500 and over
If you’re a major retailer or manufacturer, you might have your own group of drivers who drive goods from your distribution center or factory to your stores or customers. As one of the best-known private fleets in America, Walmart has a lot of cars and trucks. Their drivers get paid more than the average amount, have shorter work weeks, and get the best benefits in the business. In some private fleets, drivers must have a lot of experience and clean driving records before they can work for them.
Salary: $41,000 and over
Indeed says the average salary is $79,000, but this varies a lot. As a truck driver, there are many ways to make money. Owner-operators are at the top of the list! A person who owns and runs a business can’t be classified as a job, and rightly so. A lot more is going on here. They run their own business, even if they only have one truck. In the end, their take-home pay will depend on how much work they are willing (or able) to do.
If you want to earn more money, you can get endorsements that let you move more types of goods. Another way to get a raise is to keep getting more experience and building your reputation as a skilled truck driver. In the trucking industry, if you want to make more money, you have a lot of options if you go above and beyond the norm to get skills and endorsements that can help you earn more money. Even if you just got your CDL, these high-paying jobs will be yours once you’ve put in the time and kept your driving record clean.