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What do truckers actually earn?
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 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!