There is a lot of money in the trucking industry and some truck drivers make good money.
That makes you wonder if you can do that too. Or, how can a truck driver make $100k a year? Or $1,000,000?
If that is true then you may want to go all-in as an OTR truck driver.
But if that is a myth?
What if making 100k is a rare thing for truck drivers and you'll not make it to the top 5% of truck driver earners?
What if you are not aware of the spending that eats almost 60 to 70% of the revenue?
What if these drivers are lying just to impress you?
To find out an approximate answer to whether a truck driver can make $100k a year you have to do a lot of research.
I've made that research for you and here's what I found. What other truck drivers are saying about earning 100k per year.
Read below my findings.
What's the average annual truck driver income?
- According to ZipRecruiter.com, the annual average salary for truck drivers in the United States is $50,909. Therefore, the scale ranges, from an annual income perspective, from as low as $21,500 up to $82,000.
Did you notice how great the above averages are spread?
What does it tell you?
To me, it says that it's difficult to come up with a unique salary average for truck drivers that fits all. Each truck driver has their own circumstances and I believe that there are just too many variables affecting this number.
However, from the above numbers, you can estimate a truck driver's annual salary as between $45,000 and $65,000. I believe that this estimation is pretty reasonable.
Now, you need to understand what affects a truck driver's pay.
What factors affect a truck driver's pay?
It's difficult to predict a certain future truck driver's pay because there are so many factors that may affect it.
A truck driver's pay can be affected by such factors as:
- How much experience the truck driver has,
- Which company the truck driver is hauling for,
- What CDL type the truck driver owns,
- What kind of endorsements does he have,
- What type of freight the truck driver is hauling,
- How well is the truck maintained,
- How good is your dispatch,
- How many miles does he drive per month? The more he drives, the more he earns.
If you, as a truck driver, learn to control all of the above variables then you are on the way to earn a good living in trucking.
But, normally, to gain that kind of experience takes time. And to use that knowledge to earn $100k, you should be a smart truck driver.
What jobs are highly paid truck drivers do?
One of the ways to increase your truck driving pay is to haul specialized freight or do some kind of specialized hauling.
But note, these high-paying jobs for truck drivers are also dangerous. So, before you seek your way into this job, you better know what you do.
Some of these high paying trucking jobs are:
- Ice Road Trucking: this is an option for truck drivers to haul freight in the North Arctic Circle. The job is dangerous as it may require hauling freight through an iced lake. The job requires skilled drivers who understand the risk they are taking on. However, the pay is huge - around $250,0000.
- Hazmat Endorsement: You can earn extra when transporting hazardous material such as flammable, poisonous, explosive, or anything dangerous like that. Getting certified to transport this type of material will definitely pay off, with salaries ranging from $55,167 to $71,637.
- Tanker endorsement: Getting your tanker endorsement qualifies you to transport trucks that are holding liquid, which will earn you a few extra dollars of pay! Typical truck driver pays for this category averages around $71,461 per year.
- Oversized loads: Transporting oversized loads requires a skilled driver with proper experience. Therefore, this job is risky and challenging and comes with higher compensation, about $55,289 per year.
Do some truck drivers make 100k per year?
So, if you've entered the trucking industry with the intention to earn six figures, I hope that you have a clear understanding that this is not going to happen overnight.
Earning $100k is pretty uncommon among truck drivers. However, it's not impossible. You just have to be willing to go the extra mile.
So, through my research online, I found some Youtube videos where truck drivers share their opinion about earning $100k per year as a truck driver.
Let's see what they say:
Trucker Wayne, on his Youtube channel Driver Solutions, shares his thought about making $100,000 a year in trucking.
The video breakdown:
- Wayne addresses a logical question to those who say that an average truck driver should be making $100k a year.
- He is saying that an average truck driver can't make $100k unless you specialize in something.
- A good argument is when Wayne is saying that the US economy would collapse if every single truck driver would be paid an average of $100k yearly.
In this "The Asian Mai Show" episode, the guy asks a tanker truck whether a specialized truck driver makes good money.
The breakdown of the video:
- it's worth taking the HazMat license only if you know what you do. This license doesn't make you more money. Instead, it opens more opportunities for you.
- the tanker driver doesn't worry as much as a tractor-trailer does because he doesn't work as hard and he is home every night.
- to get into driving a tanker, you need to get at least 2 years of driving experience.
- in conclusion, after you get your CDL, go and work for a company for 2 years to gain some driving experience. After that, you can upgrade your endorsements to driving a tanker and in that way, you can work less, stay at home more, and make between $70 - $100k yearly.
Here's a video where J Vetum, a 21-year guy, explains how he made $100k per year in trucking.
The breakdown of the video:
- after taking the CDL, he took a job in construction where he was picking dirt and leveling the ground in certain locations of a city.
- most of his jobs were in the city and he lost his job and he looked for a new job.
- during Covid, he found a job in a warehouse that paid $15 initially. But, later, the salary was raised to 17$ and, after that, to $20 per hour.
- that warehouse handled a lot of medical equipment.
- his goal was to buy a semi-truck and become an owner-operator.
- J Vetum has achieved the $100,000 in a year but his journey is unique and he did hustle to achieve that.
Can a truck driver become a millionaire?
I don't believe that truck drivers can make 1 million $ a year. But he can earn that much money and more by using his experience of driving trucks and using it to grow a trucking business.
To earn $1,000,000 you need to graduate from driving trucks to managing a fleet of trucks.
So, what’s the takeaway?
Well, although, it’s not just a fairytale that there are actually some drivers who can pull in a 6-figure salary but it’s not the most common occurrence for the average truck driver.
The jobs with higher truck driver pay come with a significant amount of risk and danger. But that doesn’t mean that truck driving isn’t an honest job with pretty good pay.
The easiest way to move up financially in the trucking industry is to put in your time because it pays to be experienced.