How Much Do Semi Truck Drivers Make? (Average Salaries)

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Semi-trucks, no doubt, are the heaviest vehicles that run on roads, and driving one such requires immense skills.

Those driving these vehicles are some of the most proficient drivers who know how to handle these big trucks and ply them safely on roads.

Hence, the wages of drivers who drive these mammoth-size engineering marvels must be pretty handsome. So, how many semi-truck drivers should be a natural question to anybody looking at the drivers?

Semi truck drivers make between $25,000 to $100,000 on average. These wages are based on state, experience, and mileage.

About 4.1 million truck drivers are in the USA today, which keeps growing. This implies that two in every hundred people are in the truck driving profession.

With the above statistics, we can say this is an attractive job which appeals to many people. This guide will deal with the average salaries of semi-truck drivers and factors that can affect their wages across the country.

Do trucker makes big money?

Who is a Semi Truck Driver?

Semi truck drivers are in charge of driving heavy trucks on the road. Semi-trucks are called tractors, trailers, or 18-wheelers big rigs.

These types of trailers are used for the haulage of heavy goods across the states. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the minimum wage for semi-truck drivers can carry 25,000 pounds.

As a semi-truck driver, driving between routes is a core job; however, there are other responsibilities which include:

  • Loading and unloading heavy goods
  • Planning routes and stops
  • Taking care of the truck and reporting any defects
  • Adhering to traffic laws
  • Following health precautions when delivering hazardous goods

Semi-truck drivers usually drive alone, which could be quiet for a long time. They must have the required documents when traveling to avoid stoppages by security officials.

Factors That Determine The Salary of a Semi Truck Driver

We must look at several factors when discussing how much a semi-truck driver makes. Here are some things that affect truck driver wages:

  • Drivers Location

Where a semi-truck driver resides affects their earnings. In the United States, most truck companies in the South and West pay lower wages than in other parts of the country.

However, the earnings for OTR(over-the-road) truckers are small, irrespective of their location. That’s why some truck drivers change location when they see they aren’t earning enough in their present state.

  • Routes

Aside from location, another factor affecting truck drivers’ salary is the routes they ply. There are disparities in wages based on your local or regional routes.

Usually, OTR truckers collect higher salaries than regional truckers because their journeys are longer. Moreover, regional drivers earn more cash than local drivers because they work weekly, unlike local drivers who come home daily.

  • Experience

Like many jobs, experience is significant when determining wages. For semi-truck drivers, this is also an important determinant.

New truck drivers, irrespective of location, earn less than those with many years of experience. This is because carriers are advised to pay higher insurance when their truck driver is a newbie.

  • Truck Firm

The size of the company you are driving for will affect your wages as a semi-truck driver. Truckers who work for startups or small firms tend to be paid more than those working with big firms.

This is because small firms adapt to the market quickly and can increase staff wages easily. But there are negatives to this.

Small firms have a lesser workload than giant carriers because they start with fewer clients. However, a consistent workload and other juicy benefits are attached to large carriers.

  • Educational Level

The pay of a truck driver also depends on his education status. A truck driving license costs between $2,500 to $6,500, depending on which driving school you attend. You don’t need a university degree to get a semi truck driving job, but following an elite truck training school can increase your pay.

  • CDL vs Non-CDL

The type of commercial driver’s license you have will affect the income you will make from truck driving. While some semi-truck drivers skip this process, it’s great if you want to make more money as a semi-truck driver.

CDL truckers have an average salary of $ 61,452 yearly compared with $42,267, the national average. Drivers without a CDL earn less and are prone to fines when caught.

The Average Salary of a Semi Truck Driver

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary of semi-truck drivers is $48,583 in June 2022. This implies that more than half of semi-truck drivers earn around this wage.

The highest-paid truck driver got more than $67,217 in 2022. Per hour, Semi truck drivers across the country earn around $22.32.

Moreover, these wages vary depending on the state in which you work. Alabama and Alaska pay the highest for semi-truck drivers, with an average salary of $60 672 per year and $27,87 hourly.

Also, New York, Jersey, Florida, and Michigan pay semi-truck drivers very well. The average semi-truck driver in this state is $ 54,328, $52,372,$ 55,238, and $ 53,283, respectively.

Furthermore, Semi truck drivers in Iowa, Washington, and Kansas City earn an average of $38,261,$ 37,982, and $ 40,127, respectively. The Hourly rate for these semi-truck driving jobs is around $26.62 – $ 28.18.

Average Semi Truck Drivers’ Salary Based on Driving Position

In semi-truck driving, professional earnings are also based on your position. Here is the average salary based on your driving status :

  • Solo OTR Driver

Solo semi-truck drivers are known as freelancers because they aren’t attached to one carrier. This type of trucker is hired when there are too many jobs.

They can choose to work with anybody or firm they wish. Their average salary hovers around $41,217 to $46,500 yearly. However, this can change as they get more exposure and training.

  • Dedicated Semi-Truck Drivers

A dedicated semi-truck driver is employed gainfully by a carrier. He is charged with specific responsibilities and has a specified salary.

Most supermarkets and departmental stores have one semi-truck driver. They will be running routes based on the firm’s clients, and they are usually professionals.

The average salary of a dedicated semi-truck driver depends on the firm that employs them. However, they are heavily paid and earn between $67,563 to $69,685 yearly.

  • Trainers

Trainers have highly experienced semi-truck drivers who have been in this business for years. They might be working for a specific firm or be a solo trainer. The average wage of a semi-truck trainer is between $68,563 and $72,623, depending on who their clients are.

  • Team OTR Driver

You can take longer hauls as a Team OTR semi truck driver because you work with another driver. Because you are two, you can switch roles when one driver is tired and needs a nap.

These types of truck drivers are paid based on mileage covered. The earnings of Team OTR are handsome. A team OTR truck driver earns between $120,000 and $ 145,00 annually.

  • Specialized Semi-Truck Driver

This truck driving position consists of several opportunities and higher-risk sectors. These truckers work in hazmat, oversized haul, and ice road sectors.

They have high wages because of the risk attached to these types of truck drive rings. The starting wage of a Specialized salary is around $82,000, which could be higher depending on how dangerous the job is.

Trainers and learners
  • Owner-Operator

Many professional semi-truck drivers expand and become owner-operator truckers. These people own trucking businesses and buy more trailers to take on more jobs.

This is a big business because you also pay other truck drivers as you drive. Owner-operator drivers earn around $ 125,000 and above per year, depending on how the business moves.

Additional Bonuses For Semi-Truck Drivers

Aside from getting paid yearly or hourly, many truck drivers also earn extra benefits and perks. The bonuses offered to the drivers vary from one carrier to another. Therefore, regardless of your truck driving position, you will earn extra money on top of your salary.

Moreover, the incentives offered from one firm to another depend on set rules and how much you can negotiate. It’s also pertinent to note that your education and experience will give you more power to negotiate for better bonuses.

Many firms pay for mileage milestone achievements. This means the more distance you cover, the more bonuses you receive.

Also, some pay extra for fuel management. Therefore, you will get some perks if you do your job without wasting gas. You might receive a signing-up bonus if you work for a big carrier or transportation company.

These run into thousands of dollars. This is meant to encourage drivers and attract more experienced ones. A safe semi-truck driver will likely get bonuses if he doesn’t have an accident. Most carriers are looking for truckers who will avoid unnecessary accidents and are safety conscious.


So, how much do semi-truck drivers make? They make between $25,000 to $100,000 yearly. However, their earnings might be higher depending on experience, position, the company they work for, mileage, and license.

Moreover, there are other benefits attached to semi-truck driving aside from just salary. These bonuses depend on the carrier you work for.

trucker perks and bonuses
Amazon Freight Partner Ebony McKinley talks with truck drivers Ian Crocker and Ray Land during a shift change at Seven Strong Trucking in Phoenix, Arizona, U.S., December 2, 2021. REUTERS/Caitlin O’Hara

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