Article: Why Walmart Pays Its Truck Drivers 6 Figures

Topic 33795 | Page 1

Page 1 of 3 Next Page Go To Page:
Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar

There was an article released by Zerohedge called, Why Walmart Pays Its Truck Drivers 6 Figures.

One interesting take is that the company is pushing hard to increase the size of its fleet, and to do that, they're lowering their minimum requirements. Some drivers at the company are concerned that Walmart will lower wages or bring in lower-quality drivers, both of which would produce more turnover and make the fleet less productive.

Walmart's high pay for drivers has always been interesting to me. If you want the best of the best, you have to pay for it, and historically, they did just that. But do you need the best of the best? Do you need to spend that much more money on drivers than most companies do?

Walmart's take is that truck drivers, who only make up 1% of the company's employees, have a more dramatic impact on how well the company runs than most employees. You can get away with cutting wages to greeters or cashiers because, as individuals, they don't have much of an impact on the company. But one driver alone can have a major impact on how multiple stores will run, so investing in high-quality drivers means putting your money where it matters most.

I'll be interested in Turtle's take on this.

Here are the major points. It's a long article:

  • Walmart is known for its loyalty from truck drivers, with some having long careers with the company.
  • Walmart offers attractive compensation for truck drivers, with the potential to earn up to $110,000 in the first year, well above the industry average.
  • The company employs around 14,000 truck drivers and has added 5,800 drivers in the past five years.
  • Walmart's focus on supply chain and distribution has been a key factor in its success.
  • The company's distribution strategy involves building distribution centers before opening stores, ensuring timely product delivery.
  • Walmart's supply chain is different due to its size, mix of grocery and general merchandise, and a large, private fleet of trucks.
  • Truck drivers play a crucial role in ensuring products are on shelves on time, impacting the shopping experience.
  • Walmart's decision to pay top dollar to its truck drivers is driven by their significant impact on the company's operations.
  • Walmart has recently changed its truck driver hiring policies, allowing associates to participate in a 12-week driver training program.
  • Some truck drivers believe Walmart could attract more drivers by raising pay and worry about the changing trucking approach.
  • The ongoing debate in the trucking industry regarding the "truck driver shortage" is mentioned.
  • Walmart has hired nearly 6,000 new drivers in the past five years, indicating the need for more drivers.
  • The associate-to-driver program may be a way for Walmart to have more control over training its truck drivers and ensure they align with the company's culture.


Operating While Intoxicated

Turtle's Comment
member avatar

Obviously I'm biased, but it seems to me the company's approach to hiring and retaining drivers is one of common sense. The supply chain, distribution, and logistics networks are all the most vital facets of the business model. Without skilled reliable drivers, every other facet suffers.

When I was in onboarding/orientation, one of the managers explained the philosophy of the driver culture here at Walmart. He explained it in a way that broke it down into its most basic form.

Basically, Walmart is not a transportation company. It doesn't derive it's profit from moving goods from point A to point B, unlike most carriers. Instead, the focus is on the customer. If Mrs. Jones walks into a Walmart and doesn't see her favorite coffee, cat food, or flavor of Pringles on the shelf, she'll go down the road to [insert competitor's store], and you've potentially lost her forever. That is simply unacceptable. The shelves can never be allowed to go empty. Therefore, the driver's job is the most important in the company. It isn't uncommon for me to go 200-300 miles to just drop off one or two pallets at a single store.

When a store dedicates most of its floor space to sales, leaving precious little room in the back for stock, the daily or sometimes hourly distribution of product is vitally important. Such is the importance of a driver who can get it there in one piece and on time.

In another thread, Rob T. mentioned how private fleets tend to operate in this fashion, and driver compensation in those fleets is always on the upper end of the scale. It just makes sense to have the best of the best and pay them for it.

With the way I love my job and the compensation package attached to it, it's still baffles me that we aren't at capacity with our drivers yet. My DC alone still wants upwards of 50 additional private fleet drivers.

As for hiring and training new drivers from the supply chain associates, I'm not real concerned about it. The standards and requirements are still very strict, from what I understand.


A partition or separator within a liquid tank, used to inhibit the flow of fluids within the tank. During acceleration, turning, and braking, a large liquid-filled tank may produce unexpected forces on the vehicle due to the inertia of liquids.


Hours Of Service

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

This is very much of interest to me as the idea of applying at Walmart is a possibility.

Some of the info about driving for Walmart I’ve encountered in my research says the 100,000 or more gross for the first year is not necessarily accurate. Is that a reliable number?

Turtle's Comment
member avatar
Some of the info about driving for Walmart I’ve encountered in my research says the 100,000 or more gross for the first year is not necessarily accurate. Is that a reliable number?

I did $101k my first calendar year, and that was before the fleet-wide driver pay increase that rolled out in Feb '22. That was also when I was running a lighter, lower paying schedule that gave me an extra day off every other week.

If you can't bust 100k in a year you aren't even trying.

BK's Comment
member avatar

Another question for Turtle.

Does Walmart value drivers with reefer experience or is there a demand for reefer drivers at Walmart? Or do all drivers pull both reefer and dry van?

I appreciate all the “inside” information!

Dry Van:

A trailer or truck that that requires no special attention, such as refrigeration, that hauls regular palletted, boxed, or floor-loaded freight. The most common type of trailer in trucking.


A refrigerated trailer.

Turtle's Comment
member avatar

They only care that you're a safe driver. You will pull both dry and reefer as a WM driver, so experience in one or the other doesn't matter. In fact, if you recall I was a flatbed driver, and had never pulled a van at all before coming here.


A refrigerated trailer.

Turtle's Comment
member avatar

Another factor to consider when asking why Walmart pays so much, or attempts to attract the best drivers:

With Walmart consistently ranking as one of the safest fleets, one has to realize that is due to the safe practices of it's drivers. So you have to wonder: How much money are they saving by reducing costs associated with accidents, equipment damage, lawsuits, and loss of product? Not to mention the bad press they would receive in the public's eye (remember Tracy Morgan and the 90 million payout?)

I'm not a mathematician or statistician, but one would think the huge losses incurred by accidents would be far greater than the relatively low cost of paying for the best drivers.

Davy A.'s Comment
member avatar

Interesting, I read this article today shortly before Brett posted about it. I too have had thoughts many times about trying out for WM. Im very frequently at the Loveland CO DC. I do a ton of Sams loads from the DC to Stores. Im guessing though that Sams are very different from Walmarts.

Some of the things that have held me back are assumptions on my part. I assumed that at least in the beginning, assuming that you make the cut, You will be slip seating to some degree in trucks? Also, again, its an assumption from reading Turtles diaries, that its seniority based as far as assignments and work goes?

I also wonder if there is as much flexibility and latitude given at WM compared to where Im at. Its somewhat an unspoken thing, but for all the vagueness and lack of direction at Knight, it works well for me, I have complete freedom to schedule, revise schedules, interface with the customers, freedom to bill almost to rediculous levels on ancillary pay because its all terminal specific decisions, and in that, Im at the top of the roster which is entirely performance based. Basically as long as our numbers are up, were safe and easy to work with, we can do no wrong there. Theres only a handful of high performers at my terminal and we get rewarded nicely. Its a very comfortable and secure niche. But then again, am I challenging myself? I would think it would be more challenging to work at WM, thus why the pay is higher.


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.

Turtle's Comment
member avatar

I'm going to try to squeeze in a proper response over the next few hours when I have a chance, Davy. So bear with me, I'll get back at ya.

Turtle's Comment
member avatar
Im guessing though that Sams are very different from Walmarts.

No, in fact there are no differences that I've seen, at least not in the mechanics of it. We show up, either drop and hook or live unload, then back to the DC or backhaul vendor. Rinse, repeat.

I assumed that at least in the beginning, assuming that you make the cut, You will be slip seating to some degree in trucks?

I think this may be the biggest hang-up people have about coming to Walmart. As a result, Walmart has dropped the slip seating policy for the most part. However, there are still times when you will switch trucks, but never in the middle of your week.

Certain schedules, called "programs", have 3 drivers sharing 2 trucks. Go back to my diary where I outline the different programs. They come up for bid annually, and are often taken up by senior drivers. There are some advantages to these programs, such as a 3-day weekend instead of a 2-day. The disadvantage, in my mind, is you empty your truck at the end of your week, and one of the other drivers in your program hops in for his or her week. When you return following your weekend you hop in the 2nd truck for your 2nd week. Next week you hop back in the first truck again, and so on. It's Walmart's way of keeping those two trucks running 7 days a week, even though you yourself are only working 5 days.

That said, the majority of schedules, at least at my own dc, are regular 5-day schedules. You go home at the end of your week and your truck sits there until you come back. I'm on such a schedule, and can count on one hand the amount of times someone else has driven my truck in the last 4+ years. But there are those times. Like if someone has to put their truck in the shop, and needs a different truck for a day or two, management may put them in my truck while I'm at home on my weekend. It's very rare though. Most of the time they will put you in an unassigned truck temporarily.

There have been times when my truck wasn't out of the shop when I returned after a weekend. So management puts me in a temporary truck for my full week. I can hop back in my truck when it comes out of the shop midweek, but I always opt to just stay in the temporary truck for the full week. Who wants to keep moving their stuff around?

So that's a long way of saying slip seating doesn't really happen, not in the traditional definition. To be fair, I can only speak for my DC in Johnstown, and our sister DC in Marcy. Other places may be different, but I doubt it.

its seniority based as far as assignments and work goes?

Yes, schedule and route bids are annual, and seniority-based. As far as "routes" go, there are really only a few that are considered choice. I believe those routes were created to simply award the long time drivers of 20+ years, and rightfully so in my opinion.

Other routes are reserved for home daily daycab drivers. Those routes are also usually taken up by senior drivers. I live a little too far away for a daily commute to be feasible, so they aren't desirable to me anyway.

We also have Long Island routes where the driver serves the island stores every day, and those come with a $50 daily bonus for dealing with the traffic and hassle down there. I want nothing to do with that mess, so again I don't even bid on it. It's surprising how many drivers want that extra money. They can have it.

Those three examples, along with the programs mentioned above and other random routes, make up only a small percentage of the available bids at my dc. The vast majority of bids are for what they call 5-day driver and only determine the start day of your week. You will not be on a set route, and can deliver to any store within our network. Obviously a Monday start day will give you the weekend off, so those bids are the most desirable.

I also wonder if there is as much flexibility and latitude given at WM compared to where Im at.

I guess that would depend on what you consider to be flexibility, and how it applies to you on a daily basis. A better question may be to ask how necessary is flexibility when you drive for Walmart.

Everything is taken care of for us. The loads are planned and loaded well in advance. There is practically zero wait time necessitating a schedule change. You get your paperwork, deliver the load, come back and do it again. Even the backhauls are a breeze. Most are drop and hook, and even at the live loads we are given priority. This goes back to the power mentioned in the article that Walmart has in it's supply chain. Rarely do I sit at a shipper more than an hour. If I know I'm facing a 2-hour-ish wait, a simple call to dispatch will get me pulled off that load. They don't want us sitting around. They want us rolling, moving product, and making money.

My flexibility comes in the form of setting my Estimated Time of Departure (ETD). The ETD is the time that you expect to complete your entire trip and be ready to leave the gate with your next one. I enter/update my ETD at every stop along a trip. The planners use that info to accurately set up your next trip long before you get back. If you want extra time upon your return to shower, grab something to eat, or shoot the breeze with other drivers, simply add that into your ETD. It doesn't get a whole lot easier.



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.

Drop And Hook:

Drop and hook means the driver will drop one trailer and hook to another one.

In order to speed up the pickup and delivery process a driver may be instructed to drop their empty trailer and hook to one that is already loaded, or drop their loaded trailer and hook to one that is already empty. That way the driver will not have to wait for a trailer to be loaded or unloaded.


Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.


Operating While Intoxicated

Page 1 of 3 Next Page Go To Page:

New Reply:

New! Check out our help videos for a better understanding of our forum features

Links On TruckingTruth

example: TruckingTruth Homepage

Upload New Photo
Please enter a caption of one sentence or less:

Click on any of the buttons below to insert a link to that section of TruckingTruth:

Getting Started In Trucking High Road Training Program Company-Sponsored Training Programs Apply For Company-Sponsored Training Truck Driver's Career Guide Choosing A School Choosing A Company Truck Driving Schools Truck Driving Jobs Apply For Truck Driving Jobs DOT Physical Drug Testing Items To Pack Pre-Hire Letters CDL Practice Tests Trucking Company Reviews Brett's Book Leasing A Truck Pre-Trip Inspection Learn The Logbook Rules Sleep Apnea

0 characters so far - 5,500 maximum allowed.
Submit Preview



Why Join Trucking Truth?

We have an awesome set of tools that will help you understand the trucking industry and prepare for a great start to your trucking career. Not only that, but everything we offer here at TruckingTruth is 100% free - no strings attached! Sign up now and get instant access to our member's section:
High Road Training Program Logo
  • The High Road Training Program
  • The High Road Article Series
  • The Friendliest Trucker's Forum Ever!
  • Email Updates When New Articles Are Posted

Apply For Paid CDL Training Through TruckingTruth

Did you know you can fill out one quick form here on TruckingTruth and apply to several companies at once for paid CDL training? Seriously! The application only takes one minute. You will speak with recruiters today. There is no obligation whatsoever. Learn more and apply here:

Apply For Paid CDL Training