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Training American Truckers since 1963

  • Writer's pictureMarc Bacani

What is an average CDL driver salary?

Updated: Mar 12


CDL driver salary

The trucking industry is the backbone of global commerce, facilitating the movement of goods across vast distances. Within this industry, various types of truck drivers play vital roles in ensuring timely and efficient deliveries. Apart from the allure of the open road and the sense of adventure, compensation is an essential factor that determines a driver's choice of specialization. In this blog post, we will delve into the average truck driver salary for different types of drivers, including over the road drivers, local drivers, team drivers, and owner-operators.

Over the Road Drivers

Over the road (OTR) drivers, also known as long-haul drivers, traverse extensive distances and spend extended periods away from home. OTR driving typically involves transporting goods between states or even across the country. Compensation for OTR drivers can vary based on experience, company, and the nature of the haul. On average, OTR drivers earn an annual salary ranging from $45,000 to $80,000. Factors such as mileage pay, bonuses, per diems, and experience-based incentives contribute to the overall compensation package.


Local Drivers

Local truck drivers, in contrast to OTR drivers, operate within a limited geographic region, making frequent pickups and deliveries within a specified radius. While local drivers generally have more consistent schedules and are closer to their homes, their compensation may vary depending on factors such as the region, company, and the type of cargo they transport. On average, local drivers earn an annual salary between $35,000 and $60,000. Additional benefits may include healthcare coverage, retirement plans, and paid time off.


Team Drivers

Team driving involves two drivers sharing the driving responsibilities for a single truck, allowing for continuous operation and shorter delivery times. Typically, one driver rests while the other drives, ensuring minimal downtime. Compensation for team drivers can be quite competitive due to the increased productivity they offer to companies. On average, team drivers earn an annual salary ranging from $60,000 to $100,000. This figure may fluctuate based on the team's efficiency, experience, and the company's pay structure.


Owner-Operators

Owner-operators are independent truck drivers who own their trucks and operate as their own business entities. They may work as subcontractors for shipping companies, brokers, or directly with customers. While owner-operators have greater autonomy and potentially higher earning potential, they also bear additional responsibilities such as truck maintenance, fuel costs, and insurance. Owner-operators' income can vary significantly based on factors such as contract terms, market demand, and operational efficiency. Annual earnings for owner-operators can range from $50,000 to well over $150,000, depending on these factors.

Conclusion

Truck driving offers diverse opportunities for individuals seeking a career in the transportation industry. Compensation for truck drivers varies depending on the type of driving they engage in. Over-the-road drivers, local drivers, team drivers, and owner-operators each have their unique compensation structures and associated benefits.

While these figures provide a general idea of the earning potential for each category, it's important to note that individual circumstances, such as experience, company policies, and market conditions, can influence the final income. Ultimately, choosing the entry-level trucking specialization should consider a balance between compensation, lifestyle preferences, and long-term career goals.


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