Truckers Pay - Minimum Salary

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Alan M.'s Comment
member avatar

With all due respect, I belive your sports analogy is not a true comparison... If one is placed on the bench when the performance is good.. That person is being held back.. also, most players enter with a contract with a salary minimum, this would include aspectations of performance when given a enough field time.. Its impossible to show what your made of if never given the opportunity..

Thanks

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

Old School's Comment
member avatar

With all due respect Alan, we thought maybe you were looking for help and advice from successful truck drivers. Everything Brett said was spot on. Apparently you just wanted a place to vent. Truckers usually hold themselves back, not the company. The company needs their drivers moving freight. In fact they need it badly. Consequently the ones who prove themselves reliable at keeping the team in the winning column get utilized effectively and efficiently. There are very few first year rookies who have what it takes to be counted on like that. You were still in the learning curve, but you didn't push through to the point where your potential became obvious to the folks who were above you in the chain of command.

Susan D. 's Comment
member avatar

The pay commitment thing... Had way too many new drivers showing up that thought they wouldn't have to work and it would just be handed to them... Wrong. So now the pay commitment varies according to how long you've been employed there.. new drivers with no experience I think are starting at $800-850. It was only $900 a week back when I started. The big caveat is.. no refused loads, no late pickups or deliveries (that are blatantly your fault..no excessive breaks (like a 14 hr instead of a 10- unless your appointment times allow for it) and OMGosh, you must be available for work. Terrible isn't it? Lol.. if you manage your time correctly and work a full shift every day, you'll easily exceed any pay commitment. I know I always did even as a brand new rookie.

I believe they're currently offering a 6k sign on bonus.. or they were recently. Even brand new drivers who need company training are getting that.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Rainy D.'s Comment
member avatar

I dont know where you worked because i get break down pay and a hotel paid for when the truck is in the shop. i get layover pay when loads get screwed up. i get detention pay for sitting in a dock more than 2 hours and sleep during that time. My company pays for all the rrpairs, as they should. i get safety and on time delivery bonuses, fuel bonuses and more.

If you saw the cpm times the average miles per week came to $55k, then why would you expect to earn "at least $60k per year"? that makes no sense. As an engineer surely you took math classes in college.

there is no way a company is going to give a good driver only 500 miles per week.

were you OTR or some sort of regional?

Regional:

Regional Route

Usually refers to a driver hauling freight within one particular region of the country. You might be in the "Southeast Regional Division" or "Midwest Regional". Regional route drivers often get home on the weekends which is one of the main appeals for this type of route.

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.

CPM:

Cents Per Mile

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

Alan M.'s Comment
member avatar

I thought I could make above the average miles to earn the 60K... Thanks for the math check!

The 500 miles only happened once... buy still the average (going back to the math) would substantially lower the overall average.

Truthfully.. I believe that all truckers are underpaid

I dont know where you worked because i get break down pay and a hotel paid for when the truck is in the shop. i get layover pay when loads get screwed up. i get detention pay for sitting in a dock more than 2 hours and sleep during that time. My company pays for all the rrpairs, as they should. i get safety and on time delivery bonuses, fuel bonuses and more.

If you saw the cpm times the average miles per week came to $55k, then why would you expect to earn "at least $60k per year"? that makes no sense. As an engineer surely you took math classes in college.

there is no way a company is going to give a good driver only 500 miles per week.

were you OTR or some sort of regional?

Regional:

Regional Route

Usually refers to a driver hauling freight within one particular region of the country. You might be in the "Southeast Regional Division" or "Midwest Regional". Regional route drivers often get home on the weekends which is one of the main appeals for this type of route.

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.

CPM:

Cents Per Mile

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

Alan M.'s Comment
member avatar

Old school

Thanks for your 2 cents.. I do respect folks with experience, only a young fool would make that mistake.. your correct, some of this was venting .. but most of who I'm about is really trying to get help with how I can get back with pay I can live with.. That may not be possible with my lack of time in trucking... I have several years of experience working in my industry.. I wouldn't expect someone new to be making my salary on the first 6 months....

but to be fair... there is no 90+ % turnaround in my industry.. so something is wrong with the initial pay in trucking.. In order to get young/new people in trucking (and more importantly "to stay") something will have to change. If this change means additional pay for experienced drivers currently working in order to pay new Drivers more, than that would be a great thing for those who have earned it..

Respectfully,

Alan

With all due respect Alan, we thought maybe you were looking for help and advice from successful truck drivers. Everything Brett said was spot on. Apparently you just wanted a place to vent. Truckers usually hold themselves back, not the company. The company needs their drivers moving freight. In fact they need it badly. Consequently the ones who prove themselves reliable at keeping the team in the winning column get utilized effectively and efficiently. There are very few first year rookies who have what it takes to be counted on like that. You were still in the learning curve, but you didn't push through to the point where your potential became obvious to the folks who were above you in the chain of command.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Old School's Comment
member avatar
most of who I'm about is really trying to get help with how I can get back with pay I can live with

The way you do that is to commit yourself to this, and give yourself the time to develop into the kind of driver that reaps the rewards. You're so focused on your perceptions of faults within the industry that you can't see why you fell short. You're still blaming the company or the industry.

Now I'll be the first to say this career is not for everyone. You just may be the type person who doesn't embrace the lifestyle and therefore is going to feel slighted or maligned. I've seen a lot of people who can see nothing but negatives as truckers. Those folks never do this at the highest levels. They sometimes stay with it, but not very successfully.

Here's a couple of articles on the subject of making good money as a truck driver. Check them out and see if they might help you understand it a little better.

Show Me The Money!

Successful Truck Drivers Operate Like Business Owners

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar
but to be fair... there is no 90+ % turnaround in my industry.. so something is wrong with the initial pay in trucking..

To be fair, you're the 90% turnover in our industry, are you not? You came in, didn't make the big bucks right away, and quit. I don't see that as a problem with the trucking industry. So to keep you around you feel that companies should pay you way more than you're worth based on your production?

You have to remember, all of us veteran drivers went through the same things you were going through and we stayed the course, learned our trade, and become well paid, successful drivers. To make $40,000 - $50,000 your first year in a new industry with such a high learning curve is a pretty nice salary, especially when you consider you can get Paid CDL Training.

See, this is the kind of thinking that happens when people hear there's a huge demand for truck drivers. Suddenly they get this big ego that makes them think they're holding all the cards and the world should roll out the red carpet to please them, even if they're still rookies who have produced very little in the way of value.

Trucking doesn't pay rookies based on their potential because there's no way to tell if someone is going to pan out or not, and in fact almost no one ever does. You stuck it out for a few months, anyhow. That's more than many people do.

Those who stick it out and dedicate themselves to it go on to make fantastic money and do indeed get the red carpet treatment.

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

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

There's something else I forgot to mention. Successful people in any walk of life focus on making themselves better. Those who don't get very far focus on what they perceive is everyone else doing everything wrong. Every truck stop and trucking terminal is infested with terminal rats who are derailing trucking careers. If you listen to their way of seeing the world and become poisoned by their finger-pointing your career will be doomed, and so will your happiness.

If you instead stop blaming the industry for what you perceive as its shortcomings and focus on your own success you'll develop into a Top Tier Driver that makes fantastic money.

To everyone out there trying to make a go of this career, keep in mind that no one ever complained and blamed their way to the top. If you want to be successful at this you have to knuckle down and put in the time and the effort it takes to reach a high level of performance, just like in sports.

Also, be careful who you listen to. Find people who are highly successful at trucking and listen to what they say about making yourself better. Just because someone has a lot of experience in trucking doesn't mean they've had a lot of success, nor does it mean they're going to give advice that will help you be successful.

Use the filter I mentioned to weed out good advice from bad. If someone just wants to talk about how lousy the trucking industry is then you're obviously talking to the wrong person. If someone wants to talk about what you can do to make yourself a better driver, you're listening to the right person.

Don't Take Career Advice From The Wrong People

Terminal:

A facility where trucking companies operate out of, or their "home base" if you will. A lot of major companies have multiple terminals around the country which usually consist of the main office building, a drop lot for trailers, and sometimes a repair shop and wash facilities.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

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

I think your biggest issue is apples to oranges. You are comparing your pay of a white collar skilled position with a blue collar unskilled labor position. Trucking pays well for a BLUE COLLAR UNSKILLED LABOR job. White collar positions requiring years of academic achievement will always pay more. There is no college degree required for becoming a truck driver. The jobs you need to compare trucking to are the forklift operator, the dock worker, flipping burgers at the Burger King, working an assembly line at a factory, etc... you place a value on your work based on your demand as an educated, white collar worker. It is not the same. Until you can forgo that silly notion, you will not and can not be satisfied with the possible earning potential. Trucking will never pay what you currently believe you are worth.

In short, until you are ready to forgo what you think your worth is and are truly ready to leave behind the mindset of college educated white collar work and are ready to evaluate this job at the level what it is. You can not and will not be satisfied with its compensation package.

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