How Much Do Cross Country Truck Drivers Make?
If you’re looking to start your career in the trucking industry, it’s important to have an idea of what you should expect in terms of compensation. You may have heard that truck drivers can make 6 figures, and while this is certainly possible, the average salary for cross country truck drivers is less than that.
So, how much do cross country truck drivers make? According to ZipRecruiter, the average cross country truck driver salary is around $52,000 a year. It’s important to note that there are a variety of factors that go into determining compensation. Take a look at our explanation of these factors below and see what goes into improving your chances of earning a higher salary.
Difference Between Salaried and Per Mile Jobs
Before we dive into the factors that can determine your salary, let’s first discuss the difference between salary and hourly jobs. Hourly jobs, or ones in which you get paid per mile, are less common. Typically, these are local jobs that you complete in a day or less. Due to the rules that regulate how long a driver can work within a certain time period, some drivers find that hourly jobs are not as worthwhile or lucrative.
Salary jobs, on the other hand, tend to be for longer hauls. If you’re ok with being away from home for a couple days at a time and are interested in cross country trips, a salaried position is for you. If you would prefer to stay local and be home more, driving local/routes is a better option and will possibly be an hourly position.
Factors Affecting Salary
Like in any job, there’s a range when it comes to the salary you get paid and that can be based on a number of different things. So, answering the question “How much do cross country truck drivers make a year?” is not all that easy. While the average salary, as stated above, is $52,000, your salary can vary based on your experience, location, and the company you work for.
Your truck driving experience is a big factor in how much you get paid. If you’re a new trucker, you’re going to get paid less, as is the case in most industries. However, as you gain more and more experience, your salary is likely to increase.
With more experience, you may also decide to move into the owner-operator side of things. This will very likely cause a major increase in your salary (at least in the long term) as you now are cutting out the middleman and running your own trucking business.
Becoming an owner-operator isn’t the path for everyone, though. Some choose to stick with a trucking company while others move into more specialized roles. Whatever route you choose to take in your trucking career, the more experience you have, the more likely you are to make the salary you’ve been aiming for.
Where you work is another factor that will determine your salary. Typically, where you are located and cost of living in that area will determine how much you make. Check out our “Best Cities for Truck Driving Jobs” blog post to see some of the places with the best average salary to cost of living ratios. This post also lists some of the cities with the most trucking jobs available, so those would be good locations to check out as well.
The last major factor that plays into determining your truck driver salary is the company you work for. Be sure to research the company before taking a position. See if you can find some reviews from past or current employees. Better yet, try to speak directly with a current employee to get some firsthand knowledge of how the company operates and compensation.
While salary is an important part of choosing a company to work for, it’s also helpful to hear if other drivers like working there. If they’ve encountered issues with management in the past or are unhappy with certain practices, the salary might not be worth it.
Now that you know the average cross country truck driver salary and the ways in which you can increase your own salary, it’s time to get your truck driver career started! Check out our CDL training page to learn more about how you can start your training and kickstart your trucking career.