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Road Warriors: The Highest Paid Heavy and Tractor-Trailer Truckers in the USA

Updated on December 19, 2011

Heavy and tractor-trailer truckers drive vehicles with a capacity of at least 26,001 pounds of gross vehicle weight and require a commercial driver’s license. They must plan their own routes often through long interstate distances, transporting freight such as furniture, produce and automobiles. They must deliver their goods on time while still following Department of Transportation rules that mandate maximum driving times and minimum rest periods. Their salaries depend on employer and location according to the U.S. Department of Labor.


The over-1.4 million heavy and tractor-trailer trucker drivers in the U.S. make mean salaries of $18.97 per hour or $39,450 per year.

  • The lowest-earning 10 percent receive a mean $11.89 per hour or $24,730 per year, while the best-paid 10 percent get a mean $27.64 per hour or $57,480 per year.
  • This compares to a mean $15.45 per hour or $32,140 per year earned by light truck and delivery services drivers, and $13.02 per hour or a mean $27,070 per year for driver/sales workers.
  • The average heavy trucker makes only 88 percent of the average $21.35 per hour or $44,410 per year earned by all 127 million workers in the country.


The industries hiring the most tractor-trailer and heavy truckers are the following:

  1. General freight trucking contains over 35 percent of the jobs at an average $19.76 per hour or $41,100 per year.
  2. Specialized freight trucking has 13 percent of the positions with average wages of $18.60 per hour or $38,690 per year.
  3. Grocery and related product merchant wholesalers hires four percent of truck drivers at a mean $20.93 per hour or $43,530 per year.

The drivers with the best pay are in the following industries.

  1. The U.S. Postal Services shows means of $25.98 per hour or $54,040 per year.
  2. Couriers and express delivery services average $25.92 per hour or $53,900 per year.
  3. Spectator sports have mean wages at $24.77 per hour or $51,530 per year.


The states with the most jobs for heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers are the following:

  1. Texas, the second most populous state, has over 8 percent of the jobs at a mean $17.86 per hour or $37,150 per year.
  2. California, the most populous state, contains over 7 percent of the truckers with average wages at $20.03 per hour or $41,660 per year.
  3. Pennsylvania, with 4 percent of the work has means at $19.88 per hour or $41,360 per year.

The states with the best salaries are as follows:

  1. Alaska, where the cost of living and wages are high, shows means of $23.20 per hour or $48,250 per year.
  2. Nevada averages $22.34 per hour or $46,470 per year.
  3. New Jersey has mean salaries of $21.09 per hour or $43,860 per year.


City population correlates with trucker employment as follows:

  1. Chicago, Illinois, the nation’s third most populated city, shows the most jobs with 32,860 earning a mean $21.83 per hour or $45,400 per year.
  2. Los Angeles, California, the nation’s second most populated city, has 27,470 jobs making a mean $19.41 per hour or $40,380 per year.
  3. Houston, Texas, the fourth most populated city, contains 26,860 workers earning a mean $18.22 per hour or $37,890 per year.

For salaries, cities rank as follows:

  1. Fairbanks, Alaska, has mean wages of $25.56 per hour or $53,170 per year.
  2. Danville, Illinois, averages $25.15 per hour or $52,320 per year.
  3. Racine, Wisconsin, has means of $24.26 per hour or $50,470 per year.


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    • MarleneB profile image

      Marlene Bertrand 

      5 years ago from USA

      Great information. For all the work that they do, it seems like truck drivers should be paid a higher salary. But, I guess that would mean a higher price for the goods they transport. My neighbor is a retired trucker - a little ol' lady whose load was lumber. She has some exciting stories about the industry and her life on the road. I admire her and other truckers who give up so much of their lives just to make sure the goods get delivered on time.

    • Ddraigcoch profile image


      6 years ago from UK

      To be fair, whilst I would love a wage like that, I don't think it is that much for long distance truckers who endure a lot on their job.

      Thank you for writing this article, as being from the UK this was new information for me.

    • b. Malin profile image

      b. Malin 

      6 years ago

      I've always had the uttermost respect for these "Road Warriors"...not an easy life on them and their families...Very Interesting and such an Informative Hub Alocsin. Thanks for sharing! I've voted In both categories.


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