Truckers Pay - Minimum Salary

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Alan M.'s Comment
member avatar

Hello all.. I hold a Florida CDL and have 6 months experience over the last 5 years. My trade as a professional Engineer got overbearing for me and I decided a few years ago to make a change. I paid cash for CDL school, got my Hazmat and tanker in an effort to set myself up with the best way to earn. I quickly found out that the pay was terrible.

The inconsistently and the complete control of others getting in the way of earning a living forced me to leave. Dispatchers, Shippers, cancelling of Freight, and sitting in the yard (sometimes for days) waiting for a load. I accepted the fact from the beginning that the pay was not going to be what I was used to in Engineering. That being said.. there where too many times that when I broke down the hours, My son made more than me working at Walmart cleaning floors. I absolutely loved driving the truck and would return tomorrow if the pay structure and ability to earn was fair.

I fear I'll be too old before the industry makes this change (if at all). Is there any opportunities out there with guaranteed minimum pay? I was even willing to accept the 70 hour week, thinking that I could work twice as much and earn at least 75% of what I earned as an engineer.. I was mistaken.. I still think that with the sacrifice of being gone weeks as a Time and the dangers and responsibilities of the driver. The pay would at least, as a minimum be 60-65K per year.. I estimate if I stayed driving. I would have been lucky to earn 45K... Just not enough for the hours and dedication required. Your thoughts?

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.

HAZMAT:

Hazardous Materials

Explosive, flammable, poisonous or otherwise potentially dangerous cargo. Large amounts of especially hazardous cargo are required to be placarded under HAZMAT regulations

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.

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.

Keith A.'s Comment
member avatar

I don't know how any companies that offer minimum pay work, I see it advertised sometimes on other trucks that pass me.

But (and I'm a pretty fresh rookie, only in for about 5 months now) this job isn't an hourly job. It's all performance pay. The more the truck moves the more you make. If you just got your CDL recently, most tanker companies do offer positions that start around 50-60k but when I was looking they like 1-3 years of OTR experience before they'll bring you on.

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.

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.

Garth M.'s Comment
member avatar

I was just looking at my last pay stub, I cleared $2084.50 for the previous 2 weeks. I will probably average $900 clear a week over the year by my best guesstimate. This past pay period was the busiest I have ever been, Almost 70hrs elogged in 5 days and if you count the time before logging in and after logging out I am close to 90 hours. I was totally bagged and looked forward to a good payday so believe it or not I was disappointed with the last pay. I must have jumped a tax bracket lol. But looking back at that time It was a good week and I felt the most satisfied with my performance since I started driving. Mileage is a luxury, I find reloads and mutiple drops to be a large portion of my pay so I look at how many hours I’ve put in to determine how things are going and 70 hours in 5 days is common though my elog does’nt show them. I’m going to celebrate my cdl 1st anniversary on June 6, I’ve been with this company since June 12. I am generally satisfied with my career choice and can see my driver abilities improving consistently which keeps me motivated. I wouldn’t be able to make near this money working for an employer as a carpenter and its all about the money right now.

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.

Elog:

Electronic Onboard Recorder

Electronic Logbook

A device which records the amount of time a vehicle has been driven. If the vehicle is not being driven, the operator will manually input whether or not he/she is on duty or not.

SAP:

Substance Abuse Professional

The Substance Abuse Professional (SAP) is a person who evaluates employees who have violated a DOT drug and alcohol program regulation and makes recommendations concerning education, treatment, follow-up testing, and aftercare.

G-Town's Comment
member avatar

Welcome to the forum Alan.

My initial thought? You gave up way too fast.

Six months of experience doesn't give you anywhere near the knowledge, savey and skill required to be a top performer.

Most of the full time drivers in this forum with 2 years or more of contiguous experience are earning 65-70k per year.

What company did you drive for?

When was the last time you drove?

Rob T.'s Comment
member avatar

I believe the company Susan D. Works for (west side transport) offers a guarantee of $1000 a week. There are definitely requirements you must meet to qualify for the guarantee. However, even at a guaranteed $1000 a week there's a ton of potential to make more than that (52k a year) if you apply yourself to manage your clock

Bobcat_Bob's Comment
member avatar

When I was with West Side Transport they offered a minimum pay, for my region it was $800 a week.

I currently drive Linehaul for Old Dominion they I am on pace to earn over 70k in my first full time year. My take home is 850+ per week on 55 hours or so. I've used almost all 70 hours in 5 days once or twice in 8 months. Most weeks I'm in the 50ish range.

Linehaul:

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.

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.

Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar

Alan, the top drivers in this industry are making $70,000+ per year. But none of them managed to accomplish that the first 6 months of their rookie year, and they certainly didn't quit working at it in such short order.

Here's the thing - and we stress this to everyone all the time - trucking is a performance-based industry. Those who perform the best make the most money. Simple as that. Unfortunately, learning to become a Top Tier Driver takes quite a bit of time.

The fact that you're hoping for a salary guarantee when your salary is based on your performance shows you're not understanding the responsibility you have for making that top salary happen for yourself. Yes, there are companies that guarantee a minimum salary but to be honest that's just marketing. Their salary guarantees are $15,000 - $20,000 less than their top drivers are making.

Trucking Takes Commitment

What It Takes To Be A Top Tier Driver

I did a podcast called Episode 19: You're Getting Career Advice From The Wrong People and I'm going to quote a small part of it here:

Well there's one fundamental truth that you have to understand about the trucking industry. Trucking is a performance-based job. It works a lot like the sports world where the best players get the bulk of the playing time and the highest pay, while the under-performers sit the bench a lot and make far less money.

I would say any system that rewards people based upon their performance is a fair but unequal system. The best performers get the best pay and treatment while the under-performers make less money and get fewer perks. That's fair treatment, but it's certainly not equal treatment.

Now if you're the type that loves a challenge, who loves to compete, and you're excited about getting the opportunity to show people how good you can be then trucking is exactly the kind of thing you're looking for. If you're ready to do whatever it takes to get the job done safely, you're up for the challenge, and you're confident you're going to stand out as a top performer in the end then you're the type of person that's going to thrive in trucking.

Unfortunately most people don't take an ambitious and competitive approach to their career. In fact, many people don't understand that trucking is like that at all. They may have never had a performance-based job or maybe they didn't play competitive sports growing up. They don't really want to compete with the other drivers for better freight and better pay. They don't want to solve tough problems independently or challenge themselves continuously to get better.

A Top Tier Driver who knows what it takes to perform at the highest level can look at any underperforming driver and immediately see why they're falling short of the mark. Ironically, it isn't always apparent to these under-performers that they're causing their own problems.

If you want to make big money in a performance-based industry then you have to learn what it takes to perform at the highest level. If you're looking for a guaranteed salary then you're in the wrong industry in my opinion. People who are highly ambitious, creative problem solvers, and endlessly striving to improve their game are the ones who thrive in trucking.

You left engineering because it became too demanding. You left trucking because you weren't yet performing at a high enough level to make the money you want to make. I've changed careers many times myself so I have no problem with that. But the question is what are you looking for? You don't want the pressure of engineering and you didn't want to stick it out in trucking long enough to get really great at it. I have to wonder out loud if you're looking for easy money? I mean, hey, we'd all love easy money. Unfortunately life normally only presents two choices - make a lot of money the hard way or make very little money the easy way. The dream of easy money is why poor people play the lottery.....and stay poor.

In this industry you have to put in the time it takes to learn your trade and you have to put in the work it takes to make top dollar. There's very good money to be made but you'll earn every dollar the hard way. That's the best anyone can promise you in trucking.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Big Scott (CFI Driver/Tra's Comment
member avatar

First off as was said before, you quit before you started. You have zero trucking experience. At this point most companies would require some sort of refresher training or even start over from the beginning. The only way to make money in this business is to keep the doors closed. I was trained by and work for CFI. While I don't have my first year totals yet, I have grossed over 40,000 so far. I have a friend with the same company who has been out here 3 years and is grossing over 60K per year. The money is out here. Come get it.

Alan M.'s Comment
member avatar

Thanks everyone for The great input.. I somewhat agree with the consensus that I may have quit to soon. However the industry is very deceiving to new people. I give the following example:

43cpm X 2500 (average miles per week) $1,075 x 52 weeks = 55,909 per year..

The above was what I thought I could make. However, nobody informs you that there will be weeks that there is less than 500 miles, truck breakdowns, cancelled loads, live unloads that take all day, and slow freight weeks.. (All of these things, the driver is expected to take the non-payed hit) some weeks I managed to go over the average miles... but never enough to make up the difference

I subsidized my first 3 months but even with this.. I couldn't make a consistent pay check. Please keep in mind that I'm a hard working go-getter type.. I was never late with a load and did everything possible to earn. I made myself avialible and did'nt try and go home very often.

The financial burdens at home became too great to overcome. It could be that I was expecting to at least break 60K. Working 70 hours a week, I didn't think that was too much to ask for... My hats off to the great drivers that make this sacrifice everyday. Trucking is the only job I'm aware of that puts the financial responsibility on the driver when freight is slow or the mechanical failure of the truck (owned by the company) breaks down.

As an engineer, if my computer breaks down at work.... It's my employers responsibility to repair this and I'm still getting paid while waiting for that to happen.

I respect and appreciate everyone's input.. I'm absolutely honest and miss driving the semi.. I had one of the greatest trainers and keep in touch with him to this day..

I don't really want to list the company I worked for by name.. the company and the people are great.. I don't really blame them for my inability to make it.. I feel that it's the Industry and its structure that makes it difficult..

If this wasn't true.. their would be no so called "shortage of Drivers". I'm waiting for the day that the drivers are paid well and consistently.. perhaps this day will not come soon... until then, I'm keeping my feelers out and trying to stay informed.

One more thing.. I'm a licensed private pilot.. I bring this up becuase of this fact

In the state of Florida.. I'm REQUIRED to renew my medical license every 2 years in order to keep my class A CDL..

As a pilot. If I don't renew my medical to use my flight privileges, I don't loose my License... I just need to renew it when I want to fly again.. This makes no sense to me... Just government making idiotic rules.

Your thoughts are always welcome!

Thanks again

Alan

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.

CPM:

Cents Per Mile

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

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

OOS:

When a violation by either a driver or company is confirmed, an out-of-service order removes either the driver or the vehicle from the roadway until the violation is corrected.

PackRat's Comment
member avatar

500 miles a week? Who did you work for?

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