Getting Paid - For Real?

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David D.'s Comment
member avatar

After scanning through all the tags for the forum, I didn't see one about the most important topic of all - the money! I have to tell you, I have been through a lot of "opportunities" in my life, most of them sales-related, where the mantra has always been, "I set my own schedule, I never miss a family event, and look how much money I make! Well, for me, that flexibility to "work when you want" always translated to "work any time you can" and somehow I and most of my fellow salespeople made way less than what I would call "a lot". There are always unexpected hitches and catch-22s that made earning a decent living pretty tough. I enjoyed the work but I never could seem to get ahead.

So this is my question: When a trucking line tells you, "Our drivers earn $50,000 to $80,000 per year!", what does that mean? Newer drivers make less, older drivers make more? The company stars make $80,000 but most others make $45,000? Does it mean you have to "tip" the dispatcher? Does it mean you have to know how to "work the system" and that usually means knowing how to cheat and lie? I've seen all of this in sales.

How skeptical of earnings claims should I be? How do I translate a mileage rate into yearly earnings? Are there ever hidden expenses? Like driving cab where a bad night can mean you pay the company to work because you have to turn in the car with a full gas tank. I've seen it all.

Please, will someone fill me in on the "dirty little secrets" that could make me wish I had thought twice (or 4 or 5 times) about trucking? THanks!

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.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar
Best Answer!

Hey David...anytime you're looking for info on a specific topic use the search engine box at the top of the page. It's awesome. It only searches this website. Type "truck driver salary" and go through the results. There is a ton of great information on it.

The numbers everyone gave above are correct. Expect $32k-$36k your first year, about $40k your second. But you'll get a huge variance between drives sometimes for a variety of reasons.

Three big things that will effect your salary the first year are:

1) That initial training period where you run team with a trainer for a month or two will limit your first year income. You won't make all that much during that period so you'll be a bit limited for your yearly total because of it.

2) You have to learn how companies distribute freight and who gets what. In the beginning they normally won't give new drivers the best freight. You can still get good miles, but not veteran-type miles. You won't be given the best runs or the most important freight from the most important customers until you've proven yourself for a few months. So until you learn how to work the system and prove yourself to the company your miles might be limited a bit.

3) You won't be able to run the miles the veterans can run consistently in the beginning because your mind and body haven't adapted to life on the road and you don't know how to schedule your runs effeciently. So there will be times you'll be too tired to keep running when a veteran might be able to continue on. There will be times you'll mess up your trip planning and run yourself out of logbook hours when a veteran would have scheduled it differently. So basically while you're adjusting to life on the road and learning your trade your going to make a little less money in the process.

Go through our Truck Driver's Career Guide if you haven't already. It's loaded with awesome information and covers topics like How To Choose A Truck Driving Job and How To Choose A Trucking School.

Logbook:

A written or electronic record of a driver's duty status which must be maintained at all times. The driver records the amount of time spent driving, on-duty not driving, in the sleeper berth, or off duty. The enforcement of the Hours Of Service Rules (HOS) are based upon the entries put in a driver's logbook.

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.

David's Comment
member avatar

After scanning through all the tags for the forum, I didn't see one about the most important topic of all - the money! I have to tell you, I have been through a lot of "opportunities" in my life, most of them sales-related, where the mantra has always been, "I set my own schedule, I never miss a family event, and look how much money I make! Well, for me, that flexibility to "work when you want" always translated to "work any time you can" and somehow I and most of my fellow salespeople made way less than what I would call "a lot". There are always unexpected hitches and catch-22s that made earning a decent living pretty tough. I enjoyed the work but I never could seem to get ahead.

So this is my question: When a trucking line tells you, "Our drivers earn $50,000 to $80,000 per year!", what does that mean? Newer drivers make less, older drivers make more? The company stars make $80,000 but most others make $45,000? Does it mean you have to "tip" the dispatcher? Does it mean you have to know how to "work the system" and that usually means knowing how to cheat and lie? I've seen all of this in sales.

How skeptical of earnings claims should I be? How do I translate a mileage rate into yearly earnings? Are there ever hidden expenses? Like driving cab where a bad night can mean you pay the company to work because you have to turn in the car with a full gas tank. I've seen it all.

Please, will someone fill me in on the "dirty little secrets" that could make me wish I had thought twice (or 4 or 5 times) about trucking? THanks!

I think Daniel B has a post on this topic somewhere if not he then Guy does.

I can tell you first year you'll make around 30-32k, there is room for more, but being new to the industry it takes atleast 6 months to start grasping how to make more money. 2nd year you can see around 35-40 and in the 3rd+ years, you'll see around 40-60k.

There's no "tipping" dispatchers. They get paid because you have a job driving. If anything they should Tip us.. (thats just what I think)

Starting out, depending on the company, you'll start out at .28-.30/mile with pay increases again depending on the company. On average you can do 2000+ miles in a week.

Im sitting at 2yrs and make .35/mile and average 2200-3000 week. I see a weekly pay of 700+. I have my good weeks and my bad. Can I make more? yes, I can/could.

"working the system" is something you learn over your first year. How to keep you clock from starting when your at a shipper/reciever is one good way to work the system. doing this means you'll have a full clock to start after you've been loaded/unloaded. having a full clock means more miles you can deliver.

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.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Daniel B.'s Comment
member avatar

Well, to be completely honest. Companies are desperate for drivers and this leads to them taking desperate measures just to get some bodies in those seats. When a truck is sitting there not being used, its still being paid for. So for every week it sits there that's nothing but money lost for the company. Companies are absolutely desperate for drivers and they exaggerate the salary.

You should expect to take home 30-35k your first rookie year. Definitely not anywhere above 40 that's for sure, unless you get super lucky and land a really nice job straight out of school.

Here is my thread about my first year income: Daniel B.'s First Year Income

But I really wouldn't believe what these recruiters tell you. They are hardcore salespeople. And definitely don't trust them when they tell you that you will make more by leasing a truck.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

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

Well, to be completely honest. Companies are desperate for drivers and this leads to them taking desperate measures just to get some bodies in those seats. When a truck is sitting there not being used, its still being paid for. So for every week it sits there that's nothing but money lost for the company. Companies are absolutely desperate for drivers and they exaggerate the salary.

You should expect to take home 30-35k your first rookie year. Definitely not anywhere above 40 that's for sure, unless you get super lucky and land a really nice job straight out of school.

Here is my thread about my first year income: Daniel B.'s First Year Income

But I really wouldn't believe what these recruiters tell you. They are hardcore salespeople. And definitely don't trust them when they tell you that you will make more by leasing a truck.

Daniel, you have all these posts of your book marked or something? shoot I was searching for that and couldnt find it. lol, gonna have to mark all your posts for future reference... lol

HOS:

Hours Of Service

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

double-quotes-start.png

Well, to be completely honest. Companies are desperate for drivers and this leads to them taking desperate measures just to get some bodies in those seats. When a truck is sitting there not being used, its still being paid for. So for every week it sits there that's nothing but money lost for the company. Companies are absolutely desperate for drivers and they exaggerate the salary.

You should expect to take home 30-35k your first rookie year. Definitely not anywhere above 40 that's for sure, unless you get super lucky and land a really nice job straight out of school.

Here is my thread about my first year income: Daniel B.'s First Year Income

But I really wouldn't believe what these recruiters tell you. They are hardcore salespeople. And definitely don't trust them when they tell you that you will make more by leasing a truck.

double-quotes-end.png

Daniel, you have all these posts of your book marked or something? shoot I was searching for that and couldnt find it. lol, gonna have to mark all your posts for future reference... lol

I LOVE THIS SITE!! Having you guys to calm my fears is an amazing blessing! David, when you say 35 cents per mile that reveals one exaggeration I've seen. I notice trucks on the road with recruiting signs claiming 42-48 cents. You said you could make more. What keeps you where you are?

HOS:

Hours Of Service

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

double-quotes-start.png

double-quotes-start.png

double-quotes-start.png

Well, to be completely honest. Companies are desperate for drivers and this leads to them taking desperate measures just to get some bodies in those seats. When a truck is sitting there not being used, its still being paid for. So for every week it sits there that's nothing but money lost for the company. Companies are absolutely desperate for drivers and they exaggerate the salary.

You should expect to take home 30-35k your first rookie year. Definitely not anywhere above 40 that's for sure, unless you get super lucky and land a really nice job straight out of school.

Here is my thread about my first year income: Daniel B.'s First Year Income

But I really wouldn't believe what these recruiters tell you. They are hardcore salespeople. And definitely don't trust them when they tell you that you will make more by leasing a truck.

double-quotes-end.png

double-quotes-end.png

Daniel, you have all these posts of your book marked or something? shoot I was searching for that and couldnt find it. lol, gonna have to mark all your posts for future reference... lol

double-quotes-end.png

I LOVE THIS SITE!! Having you guys to calm my fears is an amazing blessing! David, when you say 35 cents per mile that reveals one exaggeration I've seen. I notice trucks on the road with recruiting signs claiming 42-48 cents. You said you could make more. What keeps you where you are?

That 48cpm claim is also misleading. You see, some companies pay extra for short runs, and for runs in the deep East coast.

So you'll make .48cpm for a 50 mile load in the deep east and that takes 4 hours to do because you'll be bombarded by constant traffic.

But for a long haul load you'll make much slower. It's called a sliding pay scale. So just because you'll make that much doesn't mean it'll actually make you a worthwhile profit.

As always, the company uses the highest number possible for their recruiting to lure drivers. But these numbers are usually unrealistic and and exaggerated.

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.
Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar
Best Answer!

Hey David...anytime you're looking for info on a specific topic use the search engine box at the top of the page. It's awesome. It only searches this website. Type "truck driver salary" and go through the results. There is a ton of great information on it.

The numbers everyone gave above are correct. Expect $32k-$36k your first year, about $40k your second. But you'll get a huge variance between drives sometimes for a variety of reasons.

Three big things that will effect your salary the first year are:

1) That initial training period where you run team with a trainer for a month or two will limit your first year income. You won't make all that much during that period so you'll be a bit limited for your yearly total because of it.

2) You have to learn how companies distribute freight and who gets what. In the beginning they normally won't give new drivers the best freight. You can still get good miles, but not veteran-type miles. You won't be given the best runs or the most important freight from the most important customers until you've proven yourself for a few months. So until you learn how to work the system and prove yourself to the company your miles might be limited a bit.

3) You won't be able to run the miles the veterans can run consistently in the beginning because your mind and body haven't adapted to life on the road and you don't know how to schedule your runs effeciently. So there will be times you'll be too tired to keep running when a veteran might be able to continue on. There will be times you'll mess up your trip planning and run yourself out of logbook hours when a veteran would have scheduled it differently. So basically while you're adjusting to life on the road and learning your trade your going to make a little less money in the process.

Go through our Truck Driver's Career Guide if you haven't already. It's loaded with awesome information and covers topics like How To Choose A Truck Driving Job and How To Choose A Trucking School.

Logbook:

A written or electronic record of a driver's duty status which must be maintained at all times. The driver records the amount of time spent driving, on-duty not driving, in the sleeper berth, or off duty. The enforcement of the Hours Of Service Rules (HOS) are based upon the entries put in a driver's logbook.

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.

Woody's Comment
member avatar

I agree with all the numbers unless you go into Linehaul. You can make 50,000+ even starting out in Linehaul. In some cases considerably more.

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.
David D.'s Comment
member avatar

double-quotes-start.png

double-quotes-start.png

double-quotes-start.png

double-quotes-start.png

double-quotes-start.png

double-quotes-start.png

Well, to be completely honest. Companies are desperate for drivers and this leads to them taking desperate measures just to get some bodies in those seats. When a truck is sitting there not being used, its still being paid for. So for every week it sits there that's nothing but money lost for the company. Companies are absolutely desperate for drivers and they exaggerate the salary.

You should expect to take home 30-35k your first rookie year. Definitely not anywhere above 40 that's for sure, unless you get super lucky and land a really nice job straight out of school.

Here is my thread about my first year income: Daniel B.'s First Year Income

But I really wouldn't believe what these recruiters tell you. They are hardcore salespeople. And definitely don't trust them when they tell you that you will make more by leasing a truck.

double-quotes-end.png

double-quotes-end.png

double-quotes-end.png

Daniel, you have all these posts of your book marked or something? shoot I was searching for that and couldnt find it. lol, gonna have to mark all your posts for future reference... lol

double-quotes-end.png

double-quotes-end.png

I LOVE THIS SITE!! Having you guys to calm my fears is an amazing blessing! David, when you say 35 cents per mile that reveals one exaggeration I've seen. I notice trucks on the road with recruiting signs claiming 42-48 cents. You said you could make more. What keeps you where you are?

double-quotes-end.png

That 48cpm claim is also misleading. You see, some companies pay extra for short runs, and for runs in the deep East coast.

So you'll make .48cpm for a 50 mile load in the deep east and that takes 4 hours to do because you'll be bombarded by constant traffic.

But for a long haul load you'll make much slower. It's called a sliding pay scale. So just because you'll make that much doesn't mean it'll actually make you a worthwhile profit.

As always, the company uses the highest number possible for their recruiting to lure drivers. But these numbers are usually unrealistic and and exaggerated.

Excellent feedback! That explains a lot. Thanks! Just one more curiosity....JB Hunt seems to advertise a salary range with each position they put up. They explain that different types of hauls make different rates, the most outrageous being 50-90,000 annually for intermodal. What do you make of that? Maybe they would never hire a newbie for that?

Intermodal:

Transporting freight using two or more transportation modes. An example would be freight that is moved by truck from the shipper's dock to the rail yard, then placed on a train to the next rail yard, and finally returned to a truck for delivery to the receiving customer.

In trucking when you hear someone refer to an intermodal job they're normally talking about hauling shipping containers to and from the shipyards and railyards.

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.
David's Comment
member avatar

I LOVE THIS SITE!! Having you guys to calm my fears is an amazing blessing! David, when you say 35 cents per mile that reveals one exaggeration I've seen. I notice trucks on the road with recruiting signs claiming 42-48 cents. You said you could make more. What keeps you where you are?

I had a few issues with my last employer, before joining Gordon. The experience I had (over 1 1/2yr ) pretty much ment nothing now so I started out at .32 with GTI and just got a raise up to .35. Its better then sitting at .32 so Im content on it. Im working hard on getting my experience back up as I'm basically a "rookie" now.

Daniels correct on the numbers on the back of trailers... Our Heartland Express trailers say .52 a mile, but thats only for drivers who do the east coast (NY area) and they only run short hauls. less then 200 mile runs. Numbers are miss leading.

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