FAQ: Truck Driver's Pay & Salary Types

Last Updated: Mar 21, 2017

Truck Driver's Salary - Frequently Asked Questions

How much money do truck drivers make?

Generally, first-year truck drivers can expect to make around $42,000, and after 3-5 years OTR driver's salary pretty much tops out at $55 - 65k for top performers.

What kinds of trucking jobs pay the best?

Very specialized jobs like car-hauling, logging, event tour drivers, or cattle-hauling can be especially lucrative. Flatbed drivers, as well as linehaul or LTL drivers, do especially well, though there may be more physical effort required in these types of jobs.

What is the most I can make as a truck driver?

Most normal truck driving jobs will top out at $65,000 or so, while specialized gigs like driving for NASCAR or touring music artists could top $100k, reportedly.

How are truck drivers paid?

Most over-the-road drivers are paid cents-per-mile. Some companies do offer percentage pay. There are many additional incentives offered in many jobs, like extra stop pay, tarping pay, layover, etc.

How important is starting truck driver pay?

To some people, it's very important. Keep in mind that there are always trade-offs with companies that offer particularly high or low starting salaries to new drivers. Know what you are looking for in a company before making starting salary your main criteria. Things like benefits and perks, home time and route offerings, pet policies, etc., are all part of the decision making process.

Will I be paid during CDL training and company training?

Most companies will not start paying you until you have your CDL and/or start the on-the-road company training phase, though every company has a different timetable for this. Some companies, like Roehl, will get you in the truck as soon as possible, and pay you as an employee from day 1.

How does team pay work?

In normal team driving scenarios, the truck is paid per mile for the total number of miles driven, and the two drivers split it.


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.


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.


Less Than Truckload

Refers to carriers that make a lot of smaller pickups and deliveries for multiple customers as opposed to hauling one big load of freight for one customer. This type of hauling is normally done by companies with terminals scattered throughout the country where freight is sorted before being moved on to its destination.

LTL carriers include:

  • FedEx Freight
  • Con-way
  • YRC Freight
  • UPS
  • Old Dominion
  • Estes
  • Yellow-Roadway
  • ABF Freight
  • R+L Carrier


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.


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.


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.

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