What do truckers actually earn?

The Feel of the Open Road
The Feel of the Open Road

Trucking in review

After being married to a trucker for over a decade and spending 6 of those years on the truck with him, I thought I would give a breakdown of the trucker's salary for those who are either considering trucking as a career or for those who just always thought trucking was a high-paying job.

Trucking companies vary as far as how they pay their drivers. Some pay a percentage of the load, some of the local drivers are paid an hourly rate and others are paid by the mile. Since I will be reviewing the over-the-road driver, I will use the payment used by the majority for these drivers, which is the mileage pay.

The Breakdown

The pay-rate varies from 25 cpm (cents per mile) to 48 cpm so for the sake of average, we'll say that our trucker is making 32 cpm. Now, the miles the company provides to the drivers vary as well but for the most part, a trucker will do good to average 2500 miles per week. So, let's do some math.

2500 miles per week @ 32 cpm would equal $800 per week. Sounds pretty good, doesn't it?

Considering they are on the road and can't eat at home we have to allow for their living expenses. This can get pretty hairy out there considering the prices at the truck stops. Even if you can get access to fast food it can get expensive when you are figuring 3 meals per day. Also, for those who have never experienced this life, our truckers are charged for their showers ranging from $7 to $12, depending on the area you are in. In some cases, they may be able to get a free shower when they fuel their trucks but it isn't always a possibility to shower at the places that offer these incentives so we need to factor that in. Then consider the fact that you are lucky to find a cup of coffee, tea or any other drink for under $1.75 in most places, this is also an added expense. So let's see how it breaks down so far.

Let's say he gets lucky a few times and only has to pay for 2 showers this week at $10 each. We'll figure $30 per day on average for food and $10 per day for drinks and miscellaneous expenses. Here are the calculations:

Showers $20.00 (per week)

Meals $210.00 (per week)

Misc. $70.00 (per week)

This comes to a total of $300 per week deducted from his pay that he wouldn't be spending at home because in most cases, the family back home is also buying groceries there, doubling the cost. Sad thing is that in some cases the expenses are higher due to the fact that he may need to do laundry or possibly pay to park his truck in a truck stop. You read that right. Some truck stops actually charge the drivers for parking to take their sleep break if they aren't fueling!

Now, let's figure out how much he is making per hour and see how it compares to a local job with hourly pay. If he is driving 2500 miles per week it takes approximately 2 hours on average for every 100 miles so he is driving a total of 50 hours this week. Allowing 3 hours per day for loading/unloading/fueling/truck inspections, etc., that adds another 21 hours per week to his hours worked. Now he has a total work week of 71 hours. At $800 per week that comes to $9.25 per hour plus overtime at time and a half. Sounds pretty good to some. But remember, he has all the extra expenses being away from home that he wouldn't have working locally.

So, what IS the bottom line?

The bottom line comes to this. We won't consider taxes for him because that isn't anything he wouldn't have to pay if he were working locally. So, we'll deduct his expenses as if they have taken out taxes at a rate of 33% since he will pay taxes on the gross pay and his overtime raises his tax bracket.This leaves $536 bring home (before expenses). Deduct the $300 for extra expenses and he has made a whopping bring home pay of $236. What an incredible income! Especially considering his house payment alone is most likely in the $400 to $600 range! Mama better be burning the midnight oil at the local diner or something!

I have always been amazed that people think that trucking is such a well paying opportunity. Are there truckers out there making a decent paycheck after expenses? Sure there are! But most of them have been in trucking for a decade or so or else they were very fortunate to find a well paying company. But there are more of those companies that are of the lower paying category.

And to think that Paul Harvey did a commentary on truckers once and said they, in their daily routine, their knowledge had to surpass that of an airline pilot! Yet they are categorized with the Labor Department as unskilled labor. HUH? I would love to know why the pilots are paid so much more than truckers if their training requires less skill? At least they don't have to deal with idiots that can't tell the difference in a yield sign and a merge sign!

Should you still consider a career in trucking?

Believe it or not, I would say absolutely! But only after you do serious research on the company you plan to work for and ask some serious questions about the pay rate and benefits. I will cover some of those in a future hub.

All in all, I don't regret the 6 years I spent on the road. I have traveled over 48 states and seen sights that most eyes can't even imagine! Not only was my hubby living his dream but we were able to live it together. I wouldn't trade that experience for all the money in the world.

So if you are considering a career in trucking, just make sure that your family isn't totally dependent on your salary alone to survive until you can see how things work out with the company. It just may be the ideal career if you do your homework and have a backup plan!

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Comments 22 comments

About-The-Home profile image

About-The-Home 8 years ago

Keep on truckin'

Bonnie Ramsey profile image

Bonnie Ramsey 8 years ago from United States Author

LOL he is! he is just regional now so I get to stay home and write hubs! Thanks for the comment!


Lissie profile image

Lissie 8 years ago from New Zealand

Interesting - there are an increasing number of women driving trucks and operating other heavy machiner in Australia. The haulage companies are having trouble getting staff because its the same basic licence as that needed on minining dump trucks- working in mine - on a fly in/out basis a trucker in WA could easily be earning A$100,000 and when in camp there are no expenses - all provided except booze

Bonnie Ramsey profile image

Bonnie Ramsey 8 years ago from United States Author

Hi, Lissie!

Thanks for stopping by! We also have an increasing number of women in trucking here in the U.S. And many of our companies claim big earnings for the truckers that don't follow through with their promises. $100,000 would buy a lot of booze! LOL. But then again, would they need to be driving at that point?


WeddingConsultant profile image

WeddingConsultant 8 years ago from DC Metro Area

Hopefully this won't be too off topic, but I was told that truckers and airline pilots have the highest divorce rate because they're away from home for so long. I found this out because my dad is an airline pilot! He's (fortunately) been married to my mom this whole time, but being in that line of work hasn't made things easy. Regardless, I was wondering if you'd heard the same statistic before? And if so, do you think that trucking puts a strain on relationships?

Bonnie Ramsey profile image

Bonnie Ramsey 8 years ago from United States Author

Actually I have heard these statistics and I can certainly understand why. It takes a very special type person with a very strong will in order to keep things going back home while your spouse is on the road (or in the air).

On the flip side, we have an increase in couples driving as a team which is about as bad on a relationship. I was with my hubby 24/7 out there in a very small space. I always said that the couple trucking life would either make or break a marriage. I told the girls that if they ever thought they wanted to marry to go out on the truck together for six months and if, at the end of those six months, one had not killed the other and they still wanted to get married to go for it! LOL

My hubby and I were very blessed in the fact that, although there were times (and still are) that I wanted to pull his hair out and vice versa, it actually brought us closer together. It also gave me a great understanding of the life they live out there. It isn't always peaches and cream!

Thanks for stopping by and posting. That was a very good point. Thanks for asking.


WeddingConsultant profile image

WeddingConsultant 8 years ago from DC Metro Area

Thanks for your answer, Bonnie. I was hoping that my question wasn't seen as being "too forward." Funny that you mention that about being with your spouse 24/7...I recently started working at the same job as my wife, so we're together 24/7 right now! Been doing it for a little over a month now. (So any advice is welcome!)

We decided that whenever I needed "guy time" I could stop everything and ask for it and she'd have to give it to me no matter what. We both agreed to those terms and have been doing well because of it. But yeah, we commute together, work together and are at home together. Not much chance for alone time.

Oh and for the record- we love it. It saves a lot of money to commute together, we both love our jobs and we find that we aren't pulling each other's hair out! Maybe I should give an update 6 months later....haha

Bonnie Ramsey profile image

Bonnie Ramsey 8 years ago from United States Author

LOL it sounds to me like you guys are on the right track. I have also worked in the same company as my (now ex) husband when we were married. The most important thing to remember is that when you go to work, leave all the personal stuff at home. This way, if there was a disagreement before work, you both have time to cool off, reflect and be more calm when you discuss it at home after work. That is, if it needs discussing, I remember a lot of times we'd be all fired up at each other then by the end of the workday, we couldn't even remember what we were fighting about LOL. If you just don't take the disagreements to work with you then you should be fine!


WeddingConsultant profile image

WeddingConsultant 8 years ago from DC Metro Area

haha yeah, we know about arguments where we forgot the original disagreement! Who doesn't?

Thanks for the tidbits of advice Bonnie!

Bonnie Ramsey profile image

Bonnie Ramsey 8 years ago from United States Author

No problem! Hope it is useful to you!

Carolina Crete profile image

Carolina Crete 8 years ago from Crete, Greece

"We decided that whenever I needed "guy time" I could stop everything and ask for it and she'd have to give it to me no matter what." 

 I sure hope your wife takes 'girl time' too whenever she needs it WeddingConsultant :)

Bonnie, enjoyed reading this. I travelled with a trucker boyfriend for a few weeks back when I was young and free. Split up soon after .. lol

Bonnie Ramsey profile image

Bonnie Ramsey 8 years ago from United States Author

Sorry to hear that Carolina. I am glad you enjoyed it. I don't want to misguide anyone who is thinking of trucking as a career but thought that they should be aware of the excess expenses. Many people don't even consider that until it is too late. Thanks so much for stopping in and commenting. Your comments are always welcome!


ikcubod 8 years ago

Miss Bonnie,

I remember back in 72 when trucking companies were trying to get $1 per mile.

When I left the industry in 02 some were still trying to get $1 per mile.


Bonnie Ramsey profile image

Bonnie Ramsey 8 years ago from United States Author

They have increased somewhat since then but unfortunately, they don't pass on a lot of the extra profits to the drivers! Thanks for dropping in and posting. You are welcome any time!


ngureco profile image

ngureco 8 years ago

Wedding consultant says he recently started working at the same job as his wife, so they're together 24/7. All look good for now but in my own opinion I would suggest that if possible you should work in different workstation.

Bonnie Ramsey profile image

Bonnie Ramsey 8 years ago from United States Author


Thanks for stopping by! I can't say that I agree, though as I think that it depends on the people and their relationship as to whether they are able to do this or not. I know many, many couples that have worked together for years without it being a problem. Not to mention all the people who have family businesses. If they can separate their business and personal lives, as my (now ex) and I did, then they should be fine.


compu-smart profile image

compu-smart 8 years ago from London UK

Yes, keep on trucking if you love traveling and driving!:)

Dafapa 8 years ago

Thanks Bonnie for the info. I'm a 25 year old single male, and I've been thinking about trucking for alittle over 2 years now. In fact, I've probably thought it through 1000 times or more. Even after reading your mathmatics, it still sounds like a very interesting career for me. I guess it makes it alittle easier to decide for a single male. Do you have any advice for me?

tinacarla profile image

tinacarla 8 years ago from USA

Thanks for the info there! I am always curious about the trucker salary, You just answered my curiosity!

Leon Bentley 5 years ago

Hi and thanks for this posting on Trucking. Trucking jobs are necessary, but regularly unnoticed in our society. Our nation needs to aid the trucking industry to help keep our country growing.

kada94566 5 years ago

Very good hub, Bonnie, My son is one happy trucker. He had a high paying job as a superintendent of airfreight, than 911. The pressure was on and he got out and got his CDL.

Best thing he ever did. He takes his golf clubs in the summer, and his skis in the winter. This year he went to three opening baseball games. He's got a good life a truckin. I'm glad to see him so happy. And mom loves it too, he's taken me on several great trips. (Jackson Hole, WI, Canada and Texas) Happy Holidays and drive safe. Kay

francisco 4 years ago

I'm starting to do training in a company whene I m done a company is waiting for me I want to take my wife and my daughter is that possible ?my daughter is 8 months old by the time I start my job she will be a year old e mail me if you know the anwser armando_902010@hotmail.com

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