Trucking can be a lucrative career. In the United States, truck drivers can make more than $60,000 a year. Of course, there are many factors involved like load type, mileage, experience, and operating mode. Is there long-term potential in truck driving? Yes, definitely.
Bloomberg reports that there is an ongoing shortage of truckers across the United States. It has become so severe that trucking companies are sourcing drivers from abroad. The COVID-19 pandemic has sent demand for goods across the country soaring through the roof while also sending countless workers into early retirement—truck drivers included. Whether you’re just now considering getting into the field or are already an experienced driver looking for new work, now might be a great time to act on it.
How Much Does a Truck Driver Make Annually?
In the United States, the average annual salary for a truck driver is $68,109. Typically, apart from the salary, a truck driver enjoys benefits such as employee stock ownership plans, referral programs, fuel discounts, 401(k), and paid time off.
Ice road truckers can earn anywhere from $30,000 to $40,000 in a quarter, making them some highest-paid truck drivers in the country. Impressive salary aside, ice road trucking can be a dangerous job. Truck drivers who navigate icy roads must be highly skilled to qualify.
Transporting significant amounts of liquid can be difficult, which is why tanker truckers earn an average of $60,000 a year. While some tanker drivers haul hazardous fluids, some deliver liquids like milk or water. To become a tanker truck driver, one will need any of these certifications: an N endorsement (for loads of 1,000 gallons and up) or an X endorsement (N endorsement + hazmat certification).
Annually, oversized load truckers make an average of about $54,000. With the right experience and mileage, this can go up to six figures. However, most companies look for a trucker with a high skill level in shipping extra-large loads (heavy construction equipment or even tiny houses). Of course, such a high level of skill commands competitive pay.
It’s no wonder that the more expensive your cargo is, the more the company will pay to ship it. This perhaps explains why truck drivers for luxury car hauling can earn up to $100,000 a year. Hauling expensive automobiles is a meticulous, fragile task. While certifications might not be required to get assigned to this job, tangible skills and an impressive driving record will be called for.
Starting Your Own Trucking Business with One Truck
The trucking industry is growing, and if you’ve been a truck driver long enough, you might start to consider taking advantage of that growth. Becoming a business owner-operator and starting a trucking company will not be an easy endeavor, but not an impossible one either.
The first step to starting your own trucking company would be to establish your company legally. You can do this by forming an LLC. Doing so protects your personal property as a business owner and will provide you with various tax advantages. There are different business structures, so take the time to understand which suits you best.
Any start to a new business would typically require paperwork—lots of it. The first thing you need (and you should already have this if you’re a truck driver) is driving experience and a commercial driver’s license (CDL).
Of course, you’ll need at least one truck. You have the option to either buy or lease a truck, but do consider your needs before deciding. What is the primary purpose of your trucking company? (This should give you an estimate of what you stand to earn.) Do you have the capital? Sure, starting your own trucking business can pay off, but you might not have the funds ready to make such a substantial purchase. Making a down payment is only half the story; you will have months of amortization to deal with. Consider leasing too, at least for the early years.
As an owner-operator, your trucking company will require business insurance as you try to establish it. You need to get this before the US Department of Transportation can license you. The department requires anywhere between $750,000 and $5,000,000 in general liability and cargo insurance. It might also be wise to retain the services of a truck accident lawyer in case you or one of your drivers are involved in a traffic incident.
Most of the highest-paying trucking jobs involve navigating treacherous terrain or moving difficult or hazardous loads. Expectedly, the more specialized the required skills are for a particular job, the higher it will pay. If you have the right experience, certifications, and grit, the trucking industry will never run out of opportunities for you.