My 6-Month Pay Summary As A Rookie Flatbed Driver

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The Persian Conversion's Comment
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Well tomorrow I receive my 26th paycheck as an OTR flatbedder, and having noticed the recent influx of questions regarding pay expectations, I've decided to add my earnings to the forum for future reference.

I'm not sure how typical my figures will be (I have a feeling they're probably a little bit on the right side of the bell-curve), so please take them with a grain of salt. But I believe for someone who is motivated, meticulous, hard-working and dedicated, these types of numbers are probably very achievable for any rookie flatbedder.

A little bit of preliminary info:

I have only included my 6 months of driving, not any of my training time before that, because training pay can vary so wildly from company to company. I wanted to give a snapshot of only my solo OTR time.

This 26-week period covers all time (OTR time, home time, 34-hour restarts, the week of downtime I had after my accident, etc.)

I was paid $0.38/mile for all trips except my very first one, for which I was paid $0.37/mile (my passport had not come in yet, and the company I work for offers a $0.01/mile raise once you have your passport). I am paid for all "practical" miles, loaded or empty.

Additionally, here is a summary of the extra pays I am entitled to:

- $25 every time you tarp a load, another $25 when you untarp.

- $25 for each extra stop (This goes up after a certain amount of stops, but I've never gotten that high so I'm not sure what the difference is).

- $100 when you cross the border into Canada.

- $125 for O/D loads.

- Fuel bonus equal to half of all savings over 6.0mpg. This means they calculate how many gallons you should have used at 6.0mpg, compare that to how many you actually used, multiply by a standard average price, and however much you saved, you get half of that.

- Short haul pay (on loaded miles only): For trips under 300 miles, you get an extra $0.25/mile. For trips 301-400 miles, an extra $0.20/mile. And for trips 401-500 miles, an extra $0.15/mile.

- $15/week cell phone reimbursement.

- Detention pay on a case-by-case basis.

- IRA match up to 3%, which I have taken full advantage of.

The company also offers several great monetary health benefits which I have not incorporated into this summary (for example, they pay 100% of my premium and 40% of my family's, they contribute $500 to my flex spending account, etc.). I just figured I'd mention this, as it is significant.

Also, I did not incorporate my sign-on bonus ($500) since again, this can vary wildly.

And finally, $0.15/mile out of my total $0.38/mile is considered per diem (non-taxable).

So without further ado, here are the 26-week totals for a variety of different categories, as well as a weekly average in brackets next to them.

TOTAL PRACTICAL MILES: 71,971 [2,768]

TOTAL LOADED MILES: 64,528 [2,482]

TOTAL EMPTY MILES: 7,443 [286]

--------------------------------

TOTAL MILEAGE PAY (pay just for miles driven): $27,333.33 [$1,051.28]

TOTAL TARPING PAY: $1,500 [$57.69]

TOTAL EXTRA STOP PAY: $450 [$17.31]

TOTAL BORDER PAY: $200 [$7.69]

TOTAL DETENTION PAY: $150 [$5.77]

TOTAL O/D LOAD PAY: $125 [$4.81]

TOTAL SHORT HAUL PAY: $653.30 [$25.13]

TOTAL FUEL BONUS: $827.07 [$31.81]

TOTAL CELL REIMBURSEMENT: $390 [$15]

TOTAL IRA MATCHING CONTRIBUTIONS: $573.39 [$22.05]

--------------------------------

TOTAL GROSS INCOME: $32.202.09 [$1,238.54]

TOTAL PER DIEM: $8,763.15 [$337.04]

TOTAL TAXABLE INCOME: $23,438.94

--------------------------------

Here are my outgoing expenses on each paycheck. For tax purposes, I've claimed 4 deductions (it should be closer to 10, but my wife prefers to keep the number low):

TOTAL HEALTH INSURANCE PREMIUMS: $898.61 [$34.56]

TOTAL FEDERAL TAX PAID: $887.24 [$34.12]

TOTAL STATE TAX PAID (IDAHO): $417 [$16.04]

TOTAL SS TAX PAID: $1,207.11 [$46.43]

TOTAL MEDICARE TAX PAID: $282.32 [$10.86]

--------------------------------

TOTAL NET PAYCHECK: $27,312.00 [$1,050.46]

*Note: If you do the math, the net paycheck probably doesn't add up exactly to "the gross income minus expenses." This is because I did not include little things like cash advances/reimbursements, my own IRA contributions deducted from each paycheck, my contributions to my flex spending account, etc.

So there it is, 26 weeks in the financial life of a rookie flatbed driver. I hope this helps some people make whatever decisions they're trying to make.

OTR:

Over The Road

OTR driving normally means you'll be hauling freight to various customers throughout your company's hauling region. It often entails being gone from home for two to three weeks at a time.

Per Diem:

Getting paid per diem means getting a portion of your salary paid to you without taxes taken out. It's technically classified as a meal and expense reimbursement.

Truck drivers and others who travel for a living get large tax deductions for meal expenses. The Government set up per diem pay as a way to reimburse some of the taxes you pay with each paycheck instead of making you wait until tax filing season.

Getting per diem pay means a driver will get a larger paycheck each week but a smaller tax return at tax time.

We have a ton of information on our wiki page on per diem pay

The Persian Conversion's Comment
member avatar

Oops, I just realized that the TOTAL NET PAYCHECKS actually does include the $500 sign-on bonus even though I said I wasn't incorporating that. Oh well, you guys can figure it out.

For additional reference, here is the weekly breakdown of net paychecks, to show the wild fluctuations that are possible:

WEEK 01: $1,099.18

WEEK 02: $334.73

WEEK 03: $1,273.30

WEEK 04: $1,577.50

WEEK 05: $1,027.29

WEEK 06: $1,302.87

WEEK 07: $734.49

WEEK 08: $1,023.51

WEEK 09: $633.12

WEEK 10: $132.10

WEEK 11: $1,599.77

WEEK 12: $1,006.13

WEEK 13: $1,407.74

WEEK 14: $1,148.28

WEEK 15: $1,382.98

WEEK 16: $855.43

WEEK 17: $513.08

WEEK 18: $471.23

WEEK 19: $1,452.27

WEEK 20: $1,442.90

WEEK 21: $1,234.07

WEEK 22: $602.43

WEEK 23: $1,286.00

WEEK 24: $1,016.07

WEEK 25: $879.94

WEEK 26: $1,375.59

Also, I'm not sure if I made this clear in the last post, but these are "net" paychecks, which means they are what I get after deductions to my IRA & my flex spending account, and after all taxes and health insurance premiums are paid.

Robert B. (The Dragon) ye's Comment
member avatar

Nice :) Glad to see you're doing well and if you're ever at Kone elevator in West Chester, Ohio, we might run into each other. The company I drive for hauls out of there quite a bit and I see those big blue KW's there all the time.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Justin G.'s Comment
member avatar

Thank you man, how much would you say you spend on food per week?

Justin G.'s Comment
member avatar

Hey Man I just wanted to ask what exactly mean by meticulous?

The Persian Conversion's Comment
member avatar

Nice :) Glad to see you're doing well and if you're ever at Kone elevator in West Chester, Ohio, we might run into each other. The company I drive for hauls out of there quite a bit and I see those big blue KW's there all the time.

I haven't been there yet, but I am in Ohio today, making a delivery in Ashtabula this morning then picking up aluminum extrusions in Miles. Maybe we'll pass each other or something!

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
The Persian Conversion's Comment
member avatar

Thank you man, how much would you say you spend on food per week?

I haven't really kept track, but if I had to guess I'd say maybe around $50-75 a week? Maybe less? I usually stock up on cheap food before I leave... frozen burritos, deli meat, bread, canned soup, drinks, cereal, chips, etc. And I usually have to find a Walmart to restock at least once while I'm out.

On long hard days when I don't have the time or energy to cook or prepare my own food, I might grab a $6-8 meal from whatever fast food joint is accessible. This happens maybe twice a week on average. If I'm at a truck stop and have enough reward points, I may use those.

And on reset days I occasionally treat myself to a sit down meal that might run around $15.

So it all depends on your eating habits. If you eat out all the time, you could easily spend over $100/week. If you never eat out and only eat cup-o-noodles for every meal, you'll spend a lot less. Either way is hard, I think the best way is just to find some balance.

As far as your other question, by "meticulous" I just mean paying close attention to detail. This helps you maximize your logs, impress your dispatchers, make deliveries early, etc.

Dispatcher:

Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.

TWIC:

Transportation Worker Identification Credential

Truck drivers who regularly pick up from or deliver to the shipping ports will often be required to carry a TWIC card.

Your TWIC is a tamper-resistant biometric card which acts as both your identification in secure areas, as well as an indicator of you having passed the necessary security clearance. TWIC cards are valid for five years. The issuance of TWIC cards is overseen by the Transportation Security Administration and the Department of Homeland Security.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Justin G.'s Comment
member avatar

Thanks you man! I really appreciate it.

Dennis R. (Greatest Drive's Comment
member avatar

Flatbed pay should go up faster,than most other specialized hauling,and the experience gained,is pretty much free to the driver.Nothing beats experience..just wish I would have got into trucking,sooner in life,flat seems like a great niche.

Dennis R. (Greatest Drive's Comment
member avatar

double-quotes-start.png

Nice :) Glad to see you're doing well and if you're ever at Kone elevator in West Chester, Ohio, we might run into each other. The company I drive for hauls out of there quite a bit and I see those big blue KW's there all the time.

double-quotes-end.png

I haven't been there yet, but I am in Ohio today, making a delivery in Ashtabula this morning then picking up aluminum extrusions in Miles. Maybe we'll pass each other or something!

Highly recommend the drive along the lake,from bula to conneaut,if your heading east. Route will be under one hour,you can rejoin 90 in conneaut.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
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