OTR Salary At 5 Year Mark.

Topic 14440 | Page 1

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Brad S.'s Comment
member avatar

Hi, I am in the very early stages of looking at making a change to a truck driving career. I really have no idea how serious I am about it at this point, but can say I have enjoyed reading the stories and blogs on this website quite a bit. I never realized there was such a varied group of people in the trucking industry and it has been really interesting reading about your experiences. I'm a 43 y/o social worker right now. I can see from reading the forums that the first year can be difficult from a salary standpoint for OTR drivers. I am single and could withstand a few rough years financially while I gained experience. I was wondering how much the pay could potentially increase by the 5 year mark. I'm sure there could be greatly varying experiences with this and would love to get some input from the OTR veterans about how they were doing around the 5 year mark compared to when they started. Thanks.

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.

Alex H.'s Comment
member avatar

Hi, I am in the very early stages of looking at making a change to a truck driving career. I really have no idea how serious I am about it at this point, but can say I have enjoyed reading the stories and blogs on this website quite a bit. I never realized there was such a varied group of people in the trucking industry and it has been really interesting reading about your experiences. I'm a 43 y/o social worker right now. I can see from reading the forums that the first year can be difficult from a salary standpoint for OTR drivers. I am single and could withstand a few rough years financially while I gained experience. I was wondering how much the pay could potentially increase by the 5 year mark. I'm sure there could be greatly varying experiences with this and would love to get some input from the OTR veterans about how they were doing around the 5 year mark compared to when they started. Thanks.

I would also like to know this. I know pretty much everyone starts out at around the $35,000 mark. But I wonder how much one would make after a few years of driving.

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.

OldRookie's Comment
member avatar

A lot of the companies post, on their Web sites, their pay scales. From those, you can figure out what your CPM may be over the years. I say "may be" because like everything... those pay scales may change at any time. In general, based on the pay scales I have seen, you may expect a 1 cent increase per year in your CPM.

Keep in mind, there are a number of factors which will determine "how much money you make" in this industry. A driver making 35 cents per mile could easily out earn a driver making 45 cents per mile. Why that is true is more than I am going to explain here. Keep researching the industry, you'll figure it out.

CPM:

Cents Per Mile

Drivers are often paid by the mile and it's given in cents per mile, or cpm.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

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

My company starts you at .37/mile, max at year 5 would be 45.5/mile I believe. Obviously an 8.5 cent difference. We are all driving the same average miles per month so the math is easy. I must admit I've never worked in a field where they increase your pay by 1 cent and expect you to feel like something important has happened.

Dm:

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.
G-Town's Comment
member avatar

Welcome to the forum Brad.

Like Old Rookie aptly stated, your income is dependent on many, many elements. In summary it's all about mileage, not sitting for prolonged periods of time, and getting runs that will keep you on the Interstates. The other factor is experience. As you build it; proving yourself to be dependable, reliable, safe, and efficient, your Driver Manager (DM)/Dispatcher will load you up with as much as you can handle. Top performance and building trust with your DM takes time and will not happen overnight.

First year is very, very challenging. Money becomes secondary to learning safe operation and effective clock management. With very few exceptions everyone struggles in the beginning. A reasonable expectation is between 35-40k for your first year. Year five? 65-75k is very possible. I know there are many drivers on here earning in that range that haven't hit their five year mark, including me. Truck Driving is all about performance. Pure and simple. If you learn how to be a performer during your first year, year 2-5 should be financially rewarding.

Review of the following links will provide you a good base of knowledge and help to set reasonable expectations. The third link, High Road Training is a fool-proof computer-based program designed to assist a student to pass all of the exams required for the CDL Class A permit.

Good luck and let us know if you have any additional questions.

CDL:

Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.

Interstate:

Commercial trade, business, movement of goods or money, or transportation from one state to another, regulated by the Federal Department Of Transportation (DOT).

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.

Dm:

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.

Driver Manager:

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.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Gary E.'s Comment
member avatar

I'm in year 2. The key for me was research, research and yes more research. I started out with Prime making about $800 per week but out for very long periods at a time. I stuck it out, served my time but all the while I was researching the best possible opportunities out there. I now run the "Gravy Train" with a co-driver. Midwest - West, same route, same drop yards, drop n hook both ends, home every weekend and scrape in $80,000 😜 This was the job I always had in my mind ( never thought I would find it though, I must admit) and would not settle for compromise, in fact my financial target was $60,000. That's why I call it the "Gravy Train". Best of luck to you.

Dm:

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.
Alex H.'s Comment
member avatar

I'm in year 2. The key for me was research, research and yes more research. I started out with Prime making about $800 per week but out for very long periods at a time. I stuck it out, served my time but all the while I was researching the best possible opportunities out there. I now run the "Gravy Train" with a co-driver. Midwest - West, same route, same drop yards, drop n hook both ends, home every weekend and scrape in $80,000 😜 This was the job I always had in my mind ( never thought I would find it though, I must admit) and would not settle for compromise, in fact my financial target was $60,000. That's why I call it the "Gravy Train". Best of luck to you.

80k? Wow, are you an O/O?

Dm:

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.
Old School's Comment
member avatar
80k? Wow, are you an O/O?

Alex, unfortunately Garry left out a lot of information on his post.

I'm assuming, from reading what he did say, that he is a company driver, probably doing some sort of a line-haul type job. He dropped a few clues we can go by like "same drop yards" and "drop n hook both ends." That all sounds like a line haul situation to me. Hopefully he will see your question and fill in the blanks for us.

These line haul jobs are unique and usually pay very well, they are also only available in limited demographics - in other words: location is key for the driver. He is very fortunate to land such a job and I'm sure he realizes that.

Line Haul:

Linehaul drivers will normally run loads from terminal to terminal for LTL (Less than Truckload) companies.

LTL (Less Than Truckload) carriers will have Linehaul drivers and P&D drivers. The P&D drivers will deliver loads locally from the terminal and pick up loads returning them to the terminal. Linehaul drivers will then run truckloads from terminal to terminal.
Old School's Comment
member avatar

As to the original question, as others have stated, it is a little difficult to put a good solid number to it. I would say that most drivers are going to be in the 45,000 - 50,000 dollar range. There are always exceptions, and you must keep in mind that the nature of this business is to reward the top producers with the top pay. As far as CPM rates go, they don't tell the whole story when it comes to your actual pay. Generally at the five year mark you will have reached top pay in this industry - it tops out fairly quickly. Where the drivers with initiative and drive come out on top is by being able to outperform their peers by getting things done, like moving their delivery times forward, managing to be the first in and the first out, managing their logs so they are efficiently operating under the rules.

I have hundreds of stories that illustrate how I beat the odds at various shippers and receivers by just working a plan to be ahead of the other guys. It's not that hard to do, but you've got to make some sacrifices and stay on top of your game to keep things moving in the right direction. Here's a small example: I was dispatched 3,650 miles this week - more than anyone else on this account. While I may be making the same CPM rate as some of the other guys I will still make more money because I got more done. Why would my dispatcher load me up so heavily when there are others here who may have only had 2,200 mile for their work week? It is simply a matter of confidence - he knew that I would get it done. He was confident that I could manage my hours so that I would not be stranded somewhere complaining that I didn't have enough hours to make it. I had a tight schedule with multiple stops that all needed to be finished on a Friday, or else I would be sitting all weekend waiting for Monday to get here - he knew that I was not about to let that happen, and that effectively sets me up for being back at our dedicated customer first thing Monday, available for the next set of loads going out. Dispatchers love the guys who "git er done." They will rely on them heavily, and they will hold back on the guys whose track records make them a little nervous. I had to drive all through the night almost every night this week to make all this stuff come out right, but that is what it took to make it happen. That is how you will end up making a decent salary in this business - be the guy who makes things happen.

Shipper:

The customer who is shipping the freight. This is where the driver will pick up a load and then deliver it to the receiver or consignee.

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.

CPM:

Cents Per Mile

Drivers are often paid by the mile and it's given in cents per mile, or cpm.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Alex H.'s Comment
member avatar

double-quotes-start.png

80k? Wow, are you an O/O?

double-quotes-end.png

Alex, unfortunately Garry left out a lot of information on his post.

I'm assuming, from reading what he did say, that he is a company driver, probably doing some sort of a line-haul type job. He dropped a few clues we can go by like "same drop yards" and "drop n hook both ends." That all sounds like a line haul situation to me. Hopefully he will see your question and fill in the blanks for us.

These line haul jobs are unique and usually pay very well, they are also only available in limited demographics - in other words: location is key for the driver. He is very fortunate to land such a job and I'm sure he realizes that.

Thanks for the info!!

Line Haul:

Linehaul drivers will normally run loads from terminal to terminal for LTL (Less than Truckload) companies.

LTL (Less Than Truckload) carriers will have Linehaul drivers and P&D drivers. The P&D drivers will deliver loads locally from the terminal and pick up loads returning them to the terminal. Linehaul drivers will then run truckloads from terminal to terminal.
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