Check Out the Best Paying Cities for Truck Drivers

Atlanta Skyline

As a truck driver part of the perk of your job is you get to travel to and from cities across the US on a regular basis. Your month might include driving from Bangor, Maine to Los Angeles, California, and along the nation’s highways, byways and rural routes.

While you haul loads from coast to coast, the thought of moving to one of the friendly or bustling cities you see may become a real consideration. However, you need to know if you can earn more as a truck driver when working for trucking companies elsewhere. Before you decide to switch trucking jobs do your research. Several big cities throughout the US are well-known for having better paying trucking jobs, while other cities have a bad reputation for low paying loads. Thankfully the best paying cities for truckers are scattered from the eastern seaboard to the Pacific Northwest, giving you plenty of options in terms of living and driving conditions. Take into consideration the top paying haul types among the better paying cities, as well, to place yourself in the ideal trucking location for your job preferences.

Pay Ranges of Truckers in the US

When you look at how much money you will earn as a truck driver, being a seasoned veteran of the road does not necessarily equate into a larger salary. Heavy truck driving is an industry that is unusual in this respect. While most jobs lead to bigger paychecks based on seniority, truck driving as a career starts out strong by paying rookies around $40,000 a year. After a couple of years behind the wheel you will increase your pay, but not by much. For example drivers who have up to 10 years of over the road experience are earning a median annual salary of $42,000—only a couple of more thousand than when they started. What about the drivers who are well seasoned with a million or so miles under their belt? These drivers are averaging an annual salary of $49,000. So you can expect to see a growth in your trucking salary by approximately $10,000 over the course of your trucking career.

This affects drivers in a couple of ways. First of all, you can know that as soon as you learn how to get your CDL and are behind the driver’s seat as a truck driver, you are earning a substantial annual salary. This is a great boost for individuals interested in getting into a growing career where they can bring home the bacon from Day One. At the same time, if you want to earn more as a trucker, then you have to bank on something other than your seniority and over the road mileage.

You need to consider living in a city and state where truck drivers make more money. By choosing a better paying city as your home base you can increase your pay by up to 18 percent in comparison to the national average for truckers. That equates to the ability to increase your annual salary by more than $7,500, while driving the same number of miles yet from a different city. In 10 years, that boost in annual pay is worth a whopping $75,000, so it’s definitely something to consider.

Top Paying Cities and States for Truck Driving Jobs

As a tractor trailer truck driver who is searching for a better paying city for your truck driving jobs, you are in luck. There are several cities throughout the US that are paying above the national average for truck drivers. Consider the data for the following well-paying cities:

  • Truck driving jobs in Chicago pay 18 percent more than the national average for a median pay of $50,205 a year, which is $7,569 over the national annual salary for truckers.

  • Seattle, WA trucking jobs pull in 16 percent greater pay, for an annual median salary for truckers at $49,327, for $6,691 greater than the national average.

  • Houston, TX trucking jobs earn 12 percent more than the rest of the nation, giving truck drivers an annual median salary of $47,936, at $5,300 over the national average.

  • Denver, CO trucking jobs are paying 9 percent more than the national average, for annual trucking salaries of about $46,553, or $3,917 more than other cities.

  • Indianapolis, IN truckers earn 8 percent more for an annual median salary of $46,253 at $3,617 above the national average

  • Truck driving jobs in Atlanta have an average annual salary of $44,290, 4 percent more than other cities. That is $1,654 above the national average for truckers

  • Philadelphia, PA trucking jobs bring in 2 percent more than the national average for jobs along with an annual median salary of $43,669, at $1,033 more than the national average

  • Truck driving jobs in Los Angeles, CA offer truckers the exact national average median with 0 percent difference at $42,537

From the bottom of the line with LA trucking jobs to the top of the totem pole of jobs in Chicago, you have quite the range in pay differences. Keep in mind that each of these cities offer a wealth of job opportunities for truckers. Whether you are employed by a trucking company or working as an owner operator you are going to find plenty of work in these major cities. That is a plus for truckers trying to earn more money. Additionally these cities are famous for being central hubs of transportation or import/export of goods.

Why These Cities Rank Highest

Chicago, IL is a huge fixture in both export/import and domestic transportation. In addition to having the busiest airport in the world at O’Hare International, Chicago is also home to the Port of Chicago. This has been the second busiest harbor and port location in the US since the beginning of colonialism, second only to the eastern seaboard’s NY harbors. As a result, truck driving jobs in Chicago, IL are in high demand and they are better paying than in any other city in the US. Second up is Seattle, WA offering another portside location that leads to great volumes of imports and exports. Truck driving jobs in Seattle are vital to the economy of the Pacific Northwest, which is famous for lumber, seafood and fresh produce. Rainer cherries and Washington State apples are just a few of the beloved foods that come out of the Seattle area, thanks to the work of truck drivers. Houston is the other top paying city for trucking jobs that lies near the coastline, and benefits from the export/import economy that drives trucking jobs.

 

Denver, Indianapolis and Atlanta do not have ports to attract a great number of goods in and out of their borders. However, these cities are famous for being regional hubs of industry. As a result, truck drivers who live near these major urban centers can find well-paying routes and loads, ranging from oversized trucking jobs to tanker loads to hazmat hauling opportunities. If you do not want to live within the city limits of the best paying cities for truckers, consider setting up your home base in the suburbs. This grants you the close proximity of working in and out of these great paying locations. At the same time you can typically find more affordable housing and utilities in the outskirts of a major city. As a trucker interested in earning more money, saving wherever you can is going to keep more money in the bank for you.

A Typical Trucker’s Salary

When looking for a trucking job in one of the better paying cities, you can expect to bring home a sizeable paycheck each week. However, that is not the only way you may be getting paid. Many trucking companies, big and small, provide various forms of income to truckers. This can help you increase your overall income, even though you aren’t going to see the increased wages in your weekly check. For example, you may receive profit sharing bonuses at the end of the fiscal year. This is typical among smaller trucking companies, as a way to attract truck drivers to jobs that have limited routes and haul types.

For larger trucking companies, such as JB Hunt Transport, Con-way Trucking and Schneider Trucking, you can expect to see things like bonuses based on your performance. For example, if you are maintaining a low fuel mileage and getting loads delivered on time regularly, you may be eligible for a bonus, if the trucking company offers such perks. Speak with your human resource department to see what types of bonus programs are available to you. Another way you may be able to increase your income is through retirement funds. If your trucking employer offers a 401K program in which they match your contributions consider taking them up on the offer. This can be a great way to make your money grow, while helping you stash some cash for your post-trucking years.

Haul Types that Pay More

When you are searching for better paying cities for truckers, consider that certain haul types are going to pay more in certain cities. This is a way to help you narrow down the cities you are thinking of moving to in order to bring home a bigger paycheck. Start by looking at the better paying haul types. See which haul types you already pull, and then consider whether or not these are going to be in demand in the city where you are thinking of moving to. Here are some haul types and their annual salaries based on national averages to give you an idea of the better paying haul types:

  • LTL drivers $84,000

  • Regional trucking jobs $67,000

  • Flatbed trucking jobs $60,000

  • Auto hauler jobs for truckers $59,000

  • Tanker loads for truck drivers $55,000

  • Local drivers $55,000

  • Household goods and straight truck drivers $54,000

  • Dry bulk pneumatic drivers $53,000

  • OTR truck driving jobs $53,000

  • Team drivers $51,000

  • Reefer trucking jobs $46,000

  • Dry van loads $44,000

  • Truck driving schools drivers $35,000

  • Boat haulers $34,000

For truck drivers interested in hauling in and out of port cities, such as Chicago and Seattle, expect to find trucking jobs involving reefer loads, flatbed loads, and boat haulers. On the other hand, trucking loads out of the Midwest and South may include tanker loads, such as from the oil fields of Texas, or flatbed loads from rock quarries in Georgia. Determining which load types are best suited for you as a trucker, in coordination with the cities where these are most likely to be located, will help you make the best choice in choosing a top paying city for truckers as your new home.

Other Ways to Earn More Money as a Trucker

If you are stuck in a rut with your trucking career and want to increase your earnings, consider looking into the haul types you don’t typically pick up. For example, if you are not endorsed on your CDL to handle tanker loads or hazardous materials, opt to get these endorsements on your Class A CDL. This will greatly increase your chances of earning more money as a trucker. Another way to increase your salary is to pick up all types of loads including oversized loads, boat loads and auto hauling jobs. Expand your horizons as a trucker and pick up new load skills in the process. You will expand your services and learn about new, possibly more profitable, ways to haul loads as a truck driver.

If you have only worked OTR jobs, think about picking up regional loads for a period of time. Maybe you would be better suited at hauling local loads where you get the chance to learn routes quicker, while being at home more often. Finding the best paying trucking jobs is only going to benefit you if you are happy and satisfied where you are living and working. Determine how to make the most of your truck driving career so you can live the life you want to, rather than working solely for a paycheck.

Earn More Money With Financial Planning for Truck Drivers

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As a truck driver you aren’t often dealing with the duties of accountants, unless it’s tax time. However, there is much to be said about getting your finances in order as a trucker. When you look into truck driving jobs consider the benefits of profit sharing, 401k programs, and financial planning. These can substantially increase the amount of money you make per mile or per load.

 

Profit Sharing for Truckers

When choosing who to work for as a trucker, you have a few options. You can become an owner operator, drive for a national trucking company, or go drive for a smaller trucking company. There are pros and cons for each route you could take during your truck driving career. While larger companies can offer several perks including great benefits, starting bonuses, excellent pay and consistent hauls, smaller companies often fall short. Profit sharing is geared at smaller trucking companies that are trying to entice truckers to drive for them, such as for local trucking jobs. Through this form of compensation, smaller companies can give truckers something they aren’t going to find at larger companies that are already attractive enough to new drivers. Here’s how profit sharing works:

  • Profit sharing distributions are used as rewards for drivers.
  • At the end of the fiscal year, a trucking company with a small pool of drivers shares a portion of their annual profits.
  • This tactic is used as a benefit to attract new hires.
  • The trade-off for fewer routes and limited hauls of smaller companies is the benefit of profit sharing, also referred to as end of the year bonuses.

Smaller company owners benefit from being able to keep operational costs down. So while their drivers are traveling fewer miles and completing a smaller number of hauls, these companies are paying less across the board, such as with truck maintenance, fuel costs, running expenses and dispatching. Using profit sharing these smaller companies are capable of attracting truckers and keeping their business afloat. Furthermore these companies are increasing engagement and the loyalty of their drivers. If you are interested in driving for a smaller trucking company, look at profit sharing as perks available before you sign the dotted line to commit to a new company. Additionally, profit sharing can greatly increase your annual earnings. Therefore, find out if this program is part and parcel of your new employer so you can plan accordingly to whether or not you will be receiving an end-of-the-year bonus in lieu of increased weekly paychecks.

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Trucking Companies’ 401k Plans

When planning ahead for your financial future, you need to take into consideration what you are going to do when you retire. Several of the national trucking companies including Con-way Freight, Schneider Trucking, JB Hunt Transport and CR England offer a 401k option for their truck drivers. This is an excellent benefit that can help you increase your salary, while saving for your future. What is a 401k?

  • This is a commonly utilized retirement savings plan.
  • It is typically sponsored by your employer.
  • You are able to take a portion of your paycheck and add it to a savings account before taxes are taken from your pay.
  • The amount you are allowed to contribute is typically capped, such as at 25 percent of your salary.
  • When you file taxes you may be eligible for a tax break thanks to your contributions to your retirement account.
  • Your employer typically matches a certain percentage of the amount you save, i.e. they may invest 50 percent of the amount you pay in to your retirement account.
  • You are not taxed on the saved money until you withdraw the money from your retirement account.

There are a couple of different types of 401k accounts you can sign up for, depending on what is available from your employer. These include:

  • Traditional
  • Roth option
  • Safe Harbor
  • Simple
  • Solo

Another term to understand before choosing a trucking company 401k package is vested. To be vested means you are able to keep all of the money you’ve invested into a 401k account at a trucking company if you decide to leave the job or are terminated as an employee. Most trucking companies require you to be an employee for at least 5 years before your account is vested. Before committing to a particular 401k plan, do your research to determine what the best plan is for your long term retirement goals. For example, if you are in your early 20s you have much more time to invest in your retirement savings, and you can choose a more traditional 401k. However, if you are a seasoned truck driver needing a retirement plan, your best bet is a more aggressive 401k.

Trucking Company Retirement Plans

When deciding which trucking company to work for compare their retirement plan options. For example, if one trucking company offers to match your 401k contributions at 2 percent, while another will pay you 50 percent, both for the same amount that you are paying in, you would stand to earn a lot more money for your retirement with the 50 percent plan. Making your money grow exponentially, without increasing the number of hours you are behind the wheel, is the best plan for anyone hoping to earn more money as a truck driver. To give you a perspective on how much trucking companies are offering in 401k benefits, here is a summary of some of the best paying trucking companies.

  • Werner Enterprises sponsors a 401k plan for truckers over the age of 21 whom have worked for six consecutive months with this trucking company. They will match 3 percent of your contribution. You have the ability to invest in stock, aka investment funds, as part of a more aggressive 401k plan. Your plan is fully vested once you have worked with Werner for 5 years.
  • Schneider Trucking provides two types of 401k programs for truckers, a Roth 401k and a pre-tax traditional 401k. Truck drivers can work either part- or full-time and receive access to this retirement program. You can contribute up to 6 percent of your pay to your 401k, and Schneider will match you at varying rates. For instance, if you contribute 1 to 4 percent of your paycheck, the company will contribute 50 cents for every dollar you put into your 401k. If you contribute 5 or 6 percent, they will match you dollar for dollar. For example, if you contributed $3,000 in a year, they would also contribute $3,000, doubling your retirement investment.
  • CR England offers truck drivers enrollment into their 401k program after they have been working for the company for a year. They match up to 3 percent on your contribution, which can be up to 10 percent of your paycheck. How much is this? If you contribute $50 to your 401k CR England will contribute $1.50.
  • Truck drivers for JB Hunt can begin contributing to a 401k plan as soon as they begin work. However, you won’t receive any employer matching until you’ve worked at JB Hunt for a year. Then they will match up to 50 percent of what you contribute, and you can contribute up to 6 percent of what you earn. To be vested you have to work at this company for at least 5 years.

Finding a trucking job with a company that offers a substantial 401k program is a great way to help you with financial planning. Every trucker needs to think ahead to their future. What better way to do this than by opening a retirement account that allows you to increase your money, in some instances doubling it?

 

Financial Planning for Truckers

Financial planning is important whether you are working for a smaller trucking company that offers profit sharing, or you are building your retirement fund through a larger trucking company’s 401k plan. However, as a truck driver you are unlikely to have a finance background. Of course you could always find a professional financial planner to create a cohesive fiscal future for yourself. In the meantime there are some steps you can take on your own that will help you go in the right direction:

  • Make a list of your financial goals, short and long term. Do you want to retire at a certain age? Are you interested in building your dream home? Do you have kids entering college and in need of financial assistance? Decide what you will need and want to spend money on in the future. Be realistic, though; save your pipe dreams for your pillow.
  • Write down your income for the next year based on your projected wages, investments, etc. Think of everything, such as your end-of-year bonus from profit sharing. Then list your assets including your retirement account, tractor trailer if you are an owner operator, your house, etc.
  • Make a list of your debts including projected interest amounts, and determine how to reduce your debts wherever possible.
  • Compare your cash flow to your debt amounts.
  • Determine how much money you will need to meet your goals, and set a deadline for achieving each financial goal.
  • Figure out ways to increase your income as you decrease your debts so you can meet your money goals. For instance, you may want to increase contributions to a high-matching 401k to meet a retirement goal. If you want to really boost your profits, consider speaking with an investor or financial strategist to figure out ways to invest and expand your income in a more aggressive manner.

As a truck driver you are in a position to earn a substantial income. Yet if you work with financial planning you can turn your weekly paychecks into sizeable investments that will help you make even more money.

An In-Depth Look at the US Truck Driving Career Outlook

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When starting a truck driving career it is a wise idea to look at the projected job growth and expansion for the truck driving industry. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) showcases facts and figures related to trucking career outlook. These projections are estimated based on the economic need for truck drivers, as well as heavy and tractor-trailer transportation. Given that truck drivers are the main source of transportation for getting goods delivered in every state of the US, in most economic situations the demand for truckers will rise.

Truck Driving Career Reviews

According to a recent article by NPR, truck driving is the most common job in almost every state in the US as noted in a survey of jobs held by Americans from 1978 to 2014. Even when most jobs, from car parts manufacturing to food production, are being handled overseas and imported, truckers still run the roadways. Drivers are protected against losing their jobs to outsourcing, since truck driving is one industry that cannot be done outside of the US. Additionally, truck driving jobs cannot be automated with the use of robots. Truck driving career advice follows suit that trucking jobs in the US are going to continue to grow, which is also reported by the BLS.

Truck Driving Career Outlook

The BLS reports that truckers operating heavy trucks and tractor-trailer trucks can expect their jobs to hold strong in the next couple of decades. From 2012 to 2022 the number of jobs in the heavy truck driving industry is projected to see an increase of 11 percent. A few things are affecting this projection. First of all, as senior drivers step up to retirement age they are leaving the job market open for new truck drivers. At the same time the number of qualified long-haul truckers is not expected to meet the demand, as noted by the BLS. This is due to the nature of the job. Truck drivers need to be well trained, well equipped, and well prepared for the rigors of the roads. A trucking job is not a piece of cake, which is why the industry pays so well for entry level positions. For truckers who want to make a successful go of a truck driving career in heavy and tractor-trailer trucking, they should be prepared for:

  • The trucking lifestyle of living on the roads, away from home and their families in most cases
  • The time spent behind the wheel of a truck in a sedentary position
  • The need to continue training and learning on the job in order to keep up with the growth of the industry
  • The demand to be a hard worker who is trustworthy and reliable

Fortunately for those truckers who are truly fit for the role of being a truck driver, there is a great prospect of having a steady truck driving job in the next few decades. Whether you are interested in truck driving as a second career, or you are starting out fresh in the workforce as a trucker, you have a promising job market to look forward to in at least the next decade.

Truck Driving Career Opportunities due to Economic Growth

While the rest of the world is still reeling from an economic recession the US is on the uphill climb out of a long period of unstable job markets, declined spending and low interest rates. For truckers all of this equals to greater job security. When the American economy grows more and more goods are in demand. Families are back to building their dream home, increasing their weekly food budgets, and enjoying recreation and entertainment. What does this mean for those who have a truck driving career?

  • Truckers who are working in the construction industry are going to see a boom in business as builders are back at the job sites in full swing.
  • Suppliers to department stores, malls, grocery stores and specialty boutiques need truckers to transport goods to and from retailers.
  • Companies are moving from stagnant sales to expansive growth, which trickles down to the truckers who work for these companies by hauling loads.

Given that truck drivers are responsible for transporting the majority of all items from oranges to Apple computers across the US and to ports for overseas shipping, the trucking industry is ready to grow with the economy.

Fuel Cost Concerns: Rail Versus Tractor-Trailer Deliveries

One of the only concerns that could affect the trucking industry is the rising cost of fuel. Trucks depend on diesel in order to make deliveries. When the fuel price goes up, the cost of moving freight increases as well. One alternative for shipping goods is to move them via railroads. Yet the maintenance and usage of rail systems have declined in the last few decades. Additionally the cost of moving goods short distances within the continental US remains much more affordable when done by tractor-trailers or heavy trucks. This means that even when the diesel prices are at all-time highs, rail costs cannot beat the cost of hauling goods by big rigs.

Another benefit for trucks is the ability to get goods delivered in a much shorter time frame in comparison to railroads. When dealing with a rail service you have to go through multiple points before making a delivery. Someone has to move the goods on and off the rail carts, and trucks must still be used to actually make the delivery from the train tracks. It is more convenient and cost effective to use a tractor-trailer from the get-go to haul goods within the US. For instance, if you want to get a perishable load of strawberries from California to a grocery store vendor in Massachusetts before the berries begin to rot, time is of the essence. At this time there is not a cheaper, faster or more convenient method of transporting goods in the US that beats tractor-trailer deliveries.

Specialized Truck Drivers for Oil and Gas Industries

Those drivers who want to know how to make the most of advantages of a truck driving career, opt for specialization. For example, one of the most promising areas of truck driving to increase in the next decade is in the oil and gas industries. Mining and fracking sites for oil and natural gas are booming, especially in the Midwest in North Dakota. However, as the need to have natural resources in the US become more substantial there will be an even greater demand for truck drivers capable of hauling oil, gas and equipment related to these industries. Drivers will need to move machinery, rigs, storage facilities and construction equipment to and from sites where mining is carried on. For truck drivers who want to get in on this modern day mining action, which can pay substantially well than most long-haul loads, you need to get:

  • Tanker endorsement aka T endorsement
  • Hazardous materials endorsement aka H endorsement
  • A tanker and hazardous materials combo endorsement aka X endorsement

When you are endorsed to pull a tanker you are set to move gas, propane and oil, along with any other liquids. Additionally the hazardous materials endorsement will allow you to move these liquids, which are considered hazardous. You need to have the combo endorsement to get hired on to just about any mining crew. Some trucking companies that are in great need of drivers will be willing to work with you as you get endorsed for one of these CDL endorsements, but you are better off trying to get hired with the X endorsement on your CDL. Furthermore, an endorsement is one thing, but experience is far more impressive. If you are interested in working in the mining industry, look at similar jobs outside of the Midwest mines that can offer you experience in this sector:

  • Hauling propane to residential and commercial customers
  • Transporting sewage for plumbing or septic services
  • Moving water in a tanker truck for agricultural businesses
  • Working as a winch and water truck driver for local fracking sites
  • Hauling oil for marine mining rigs

If you are interested in increasing your truck driving career salary, then specialization is the way to go. You will make yourself more marketable as a long-haul trucker, which will translate into more load opportunities that pay better. Keep in mind that mining for oil and gas is a boom at the moment, which may not always be the case. Stay in touch with the changes in the trucking industry by keeping up with the latest in truck driving career issues via:

  • Reading truck driving magazines
  • Checking out trucking blogs
  • Staying on top of the national news

As the world of trucking evolves with the next big boom you will be prepared for the changes. Maintain your truck driving career opportunities by constantly improving your trucking skills. Take on increasingly challenging hauls, and pick up routes that are out of your typical driving area. Every day behind the wheel you are gaining invaluable trucking experience, so make the most of your time by varying your hauls whenever possible. By staying sharp and expanding your abilities as a trucker you will be more flexible toward changes in the industry, which are bound to happen in the future.

Job Outlooks for Truckers for Dry Van Truck Loads

While tractor-trailers and heavy trucks dominate the industry, there are a variety of trailer types that a trucker can take on for loads. These have various outlooks for job growth in the trucking industry. The most common trailer type involves dry van truck loads. This type of trailer is an enclosed box trailer that is ideal for hauling loads that need to be protected from the elements, i.e. wind, rain or sun. A dry van does not have to be refrigerated, and it is the most popular style of trailer for truckers who are just starting out in the industry due to the decreased cost of dry van trailers compared to reefer trailers. If you are interested in working with a dry van truck you can expect the job market to increase in your favor for the shipment of dry goods including paper products, appliances, shelf stable foods and home furnishings.

Expansion of Heavy Equipment Hauls

The construction and mining jobs are projected by the BLS to increase by 12 and 4 percent respectively from 2012 to 2022. For truckers this equates to increased heavy equipment hauls. Oversized equipment, earth movers, cranes and rigs will need to be moved constantly from worksite to worksite, whether for construction or mining crews. As a result those truck drivers with experience working with heavy equipment hauls will have the advantage when working for these industries. Truckers who want to haul oversized loads will not need to have a special endorsement to do so. However, they will need to prepare for the regulations and restrictions accompanying an oversized load transport involving heavy equipment. An oversized load permit must be obtained from the local city government where the load is being picked up. Typically a shipper or dispatcher will have the permit lined up for a driver so to reduce wait time on getting permitted for loading and delivery.

Growth of Refrigerated Truck Loads

Refrigerated truck loads make up the majority of perishable food deliveries in the US. Produce ranging from fresh peaches to vine ripe tomatoes must be delivered in peak condition to grocers across the nation. In order to make this happen on a daily basis truck drivers utilize refrigerated truck trailers aka reefer trucks. Given the expansion of the US economy more families are able to afford to eat healthier, which translates into an increase in the demand for fresh fruits and vegetables. To stock stores with the freshest foods straight from farms, truck drivers with experience with refrigerated truck loads are in high demand. Truckers willing to take on the task of hauling perishable produce are paid better for loads, given that the loads arrive without extensive rotting, a risk reefer trucks take.

Team Driving Job Outlook

As the trucking industry increases in demand with the growing economy there will be an increase in the number of team drivers on the road. A truck operated by a team of drivers is capable of covering twice as many miles per day than a single driver. As a result, companies interested in moving larger amounts of freight are more likely to go with team drivers to make their deadlines. If you are interested in increasing your truck driving job opportunities consider taking team driving jobs. You will set yourself apart from singles, and you will theoretically be able to make more money than a solo driver. Keep in mind you will have to be on the road for weeks at a time, which can be difficult for some drivers who have families or homes. Also team drivers require truckers to work and live within close quarters, which can be a stressful situation for some personality types. Before committing to a team driving situation make sure you can trust and relate to your teammate.

Truck Driving Career Advice

As you are searching for useful truck driving career info that will help you decide whether or not you want to start a truck driving career, weigh the pros and the cons of the industry. If you are interested in getting started in an industry with projected growth that is sure to have plenty of jobs available to you in the next couple of decades, then trucking is the place for you. Other benefits of choosing truck driving as a career include:

  • You don’t need to have any work-related experience to start a trucking career.
  • Job training is short-term and can be completed with trucking school or via training on your own.
  • You don’t need a high school diploma or college degree to start trucking, just a CDL in an applicable class, i.e. Class A CDL, Class B CDL or Class C CDL.

The cons of choosing a trucking job are often avoidable. For example, health concerns of truck drivers include high blood pressure due to stress, fatigue due to lack of sleep, and weight gain due to poor nutrition. All of these health concerns can be managed by a trucker given they have the desire to take care of their health. If you are a person who enjoys solitude, the outdoors, traveling and driving you have a strong aptitude for trucking. According to O Net American Job Center Network, those individuals who have the following traits are more likely to succeed in the trucking industry:

  • Truckers thrive in realistic environments, such as with hands-on problems and solutions, as opposed to artistic environments
  • Truckers are those who work best in conventional workplaces with set rules and procedures

If you have what it takes to be a trucker—you are dependable and have self-control, attention to detail, integrity, stress tolerance, and independence—then you are in luck with the great truck driving career outlook in the US.

Trucking Skills That Increase Pay Rate

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When it comes to earning a living, truck driving is an industry offering great pay. Rookie drivers fresh out of truck driving schools earn substantially more for their first year of trucking compared to other entry level jobs. However, not all trucking companies and salaries are created equal. So how do you increase your pay rate? Driving skills give you advantages over your fellow truckers, which equates to better paying truck driving jobs for you.

CDL and Endorsements

One of the first requirements of any trucker is to get a CDL. While the Class A CDL will let you start driving a big rig for loads, you are limited to a straight box truck with lighter loads. Typically this is for regional trucking jobs and LTL haulers. You aren’t going to make as much money with this type of CDL. If you want to earn more straight away, get your Class B CDL. This gives you the freedom to haul pretty much everything including flatbed loads, oversized loads, reefer trailers and auto hauling jobs. Being an OTR driver further adds to your ability to pick up jobs, both better paying and with greater flexibility for haul types. However, don’t stop at a Class B. Get endorsements including:

  • Hazardous materials endorsement
  • Tanker endorsement
  • Combo endorsement

A hazmat endorsement allows you to pull hazardous loads, such as chemicals, natural gas or explosives. These jobs pay substantially more due to the higher degree of training and risk involved. As for the tanker endorsement, this is required for you to pull tanker loads of liquids, gases or other unstable materials. For truckers wanting to increase their pay, the best route to take is to get both endorsements. In doing so, you are giving an X on your CDL, which indicates a combination endorsement for hazmat and tanker loads. You boost your chances for higher paying loads substantially, given you can haul everything from petroleum to chemical waste across the country.

OSHA Safety Training and Forklift Certification

Improving your skills gives you an advantage when searching for trucking jobs. If you are interested in getting hired by trucking companies, such as JB Hunt, Con-way Freight or CR England, getting certified in certain skills increases your chances to get hired and earn more money. OSHA, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, is the best source of safety training and compliance. If you complete an online or onsite training program by an OSHA approved trainer or instructor, then you know you are getting the most reliable training available. Here are some of the training and certification programs via OSHA that are best suited to help truckers:

  • Powered industrial truck safety training, which includes forklifts and other machinery used at loading docks
  • General hazards safety training, i.e. hazard communication training
  • Prevention of heat related illnesses in outdoor work environments

But what if you use lumpers at locking docks or you only pull dry van loads so you aren’t responsible for tarping and strapping out in the elements? Through OSHA certified training you are prepared to handle an emergency situation, whether you are directly involved or not. For example, if your lumper has flipped a forklift during loading, you will be trained to provide assistance that could save a load or a life. Safety training and certification gives you the skills needed to go above and beyond with your truck driving jobs. Furthermore, trucking companies tend to appreciate a truck driver willing to go the extra mile with their job. Whether through safe driving bonuses or by granting better paying trucking jobs that require greater attention to safety, truckers with safety training and certification stand to earn more money.

Sales

Truck drivers tend to look at their jobs as out of the office, solo ventures. However, you are still dealing with customer relations on a load by load basis. You are the one delivering the goods and handling the handovers between suppliers and customers. As such, it is a good idea to work on your sales abilities. While you are not selling the goods you deliver, unless you are a regional driver selling foods door-to-door, you are selling your trucking abilities. Truck drivers who want to earn more money have to take a look at themselves from the customer’s point of view. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Do you wear your Spongebob pajamas when making drops?
  • Are you against taking showers while on the road?
  • Do you forget your manners and social graces when dealing with customers?

All of these lead to lower pay for truckers. After all, if you have a difficult time dealing with customers when making deliveries, the chances of getting the better paying jobs that require truckers on their best behaviors are slim. Your ability to sell yourself as a trucker is the easiest and most rewarding aspect of your job. Don’t sell yourself short or your paycheck will suffer.

Job Site Delivery

Delivering loads, whether you focus on dry van loads or reefer loads, is your main duty. Dropping off loads hours after their due date, or losing loads due to a failure to tarp and strap, will cost you significantly. This is the most important part of your job, so do it well. After building your reputation as a truck driver whom can make deliveries on time and in perfect condition, you are primed and ready to request better paying jobs or even a pay raise.

Heavy Machine Operation

Truck drivers with experiences on construction sites, farms or as diesel mechanics have a notch on their belt that only comes through working in these industries. If you have worked in industries involving heavy machine operation make note of this with your employer or trucking company. These skills are substantial, whether you are hauling heavy equipment loads or oversized equipment. Knowing how to handle a skid loader that has shifted on your flatbed trailer due to heavy winds on the highway will put you a step ahead of your truck driver competition. Understanding how heavy machinery operates, based on your years working as a diesel mechanic, gives you the advantage of knowing what to do if an oil or gas line on a piece of heavy equipment you are hauling comes undone while on route to a delivery. Many of your life and work experiences stand to aid you when working as a truck driver, whether you are an OTR trucker or you prefer to take regional trucking jobs. However, your skills working with heavy machinery will give you the best bang for your buck.

How Much Money Do Truckers Earn With Flatbed Hauling?

flatbed-truck-on-road

As a truck driver, pulling a flatbed trailer is one of the most common types of hauls. First of all, a flatbed is less costly at start-up and to maintain in comparison to enclosed trailers, such as reefer trailers, tankers, or dry vans. Furthermore truckers who pull a flatbed can find jobs ranging from oversized loads to heavy equipment hauls. A flatbed does require more manual labor in comparison to other haul types, such as dry van loads. For example, with a flatbed load you are required to tarp and strap the load in certain conditions. You are required to stop and check your straps periodically in accordance with the DOT, which involves planning ahead. If you are interested in driving a truck OTR or regionally with the main type of hauls being flatbed trailer hauls, here is what you can expect to earn throughout the US.

 

West Coast Flatbed Hauling Pay

For drivers who live along the Pacific coast, or OTR drivers who are interested in hauling out of the West coast, the pay range is the second highest in the nation. For example, here are two of the most popular cities on the West coast where you are most likely to find loads for flatbed trailers:

  • $85,000 in Los Angeles, CA
  • $86,000 in Seattle, WA

Keep in mind that this is the median pay rate per year for a truck driver who is hauling flatbed loads in these cities. As a result, the pay is on target for regional drivers. OTR drivers that haul in and out of LA and Seattle may not earn this much unless they are predominately hauling to and from these regions. Also, if you live in Seattle or LA you can account for the high cost of living, particular in the LA area. Therefore it is important to consider the costs versus the pay when thinking of moving to these Pacific coast locales in order to become a flatbed truck driver.

Northeastern Flatbed Truck Drivers

 

The highest paying city listed in this article is New York City, which pays an average median rate of $108,000 for flatbed truck drivers. While this pay figure looks outstanding, there are several factors to keep in mind. New York City is one of the busiest and most expensive cities to live in–in the entire nation. In fact, NYC is the most populated city in the US, with more than 8.5 million residents living in only 305 square miles. If you are currently living in NYC, then you can attest to the busy environment of this global power city. If you are thinking of moving to the city in order to find high paying jobs as a flatbed trucker, consider living on the outskirts as a way to be able to balance the high cost of living with your high pay rate. In comparison to nearby Philadelphia, NYC costs far more to call home, as noted by the following comparisons between the two:

  • Groceries cost 18 percent more in NYC than Philly
  • Housing is an outrageous 225 percent more expensive in NYC
  • Utilities are 12 percent more costly in NYC
  • Transportation costs 18 percent more in NYC
  • Healthcare costs are 14 percent higher in NYC

By the time you factor in the increased cost of living for cities in the northeast, you can easily make a comparable rate in less crowded cities than NYC. Another factor to keep in mind is the increased stress level of making flatbed trucking deliveries on the always packed NYC streets. If you are unaccustomed to driving in NYC, consider taking a trip there prior to moving there for work so you can get a feel of the hectic pace of the traffic.

A bit further down the pay scale is Philadelphia, where truckers pulling flatbed trailers earn an estimated median of $83,000 per year. While this is much lower than neighboring NYC, Philly has a much smaller population of approximately 1.5 million. For drivers who want to live in the Northeast while scoring regional flatbed loads to and through NYC, for a chance to earn more per load, Philadelphia is a nice alternative.

Flatbed Haulers in the Midwest

 

Living in the Midwest has its advantages for flatbed trucking jobs. First of all, the geographical location is prime for making the most of routes on both sides of the Mississippi. Secondly, states here are predominately known for industrial agricultural. This equates to lots of heavy equipment loads and machinery hauls, both of which involve flatbed trailers. Hay haulers need a flatbed trailer, and can be spotted driving throughout the Midwest, both during harvest seasons and in winter months when cattle need a regular supply of hay due to the cold and snow-covered plains. However, deciding where to live when hauling out of the Midwest makes a world of difference on your pay check. For starters, compare two of the biggest cities in the Midwest:

  • $95,000 in Chicago, IL
  • $65,000 in Sioux Falls, SD

heavy-equipment-hauler

As you can see, truckers in South Dakota’s most populated city are making $30,000 less per year, on average, compared to the bustling port city of Chicago. Of course the cost of living in Chicago is far greater than Sioux Falls. According to CNNMoney, living in Chicago compared to Sioux Falls means an increase across the board, as noted in the following increase percentages:

  • 8 percent increase on groceries
  • 45 percent more for housing
  • 33 percent higher for transportation

Once again, having a $30,000 a year increase in pay is offset by the higher costs of living in Chicago as compared to the neighboring Midwestern economic hub of Sioux Falls. Also, while there are more trucking jobs in Chicago, you can expect a greater amount of competition.

Southern States for Flatbed Trucking

 

Along the southern border are states that benefit from the export and import via Mexico, as well as the Gulf coast. Texas is a massive state for truckers to live in, both in size and hauling opportunities. Thanks to an economy bursting with oil, cattle and agriculture, Texas is well established for flatbed haulers looking for jobs. Louisiana is another Gulf coast state that is on the rise after Hurricane Katrina wiped out the majority of its industries. However, today you can earn nearly as much living in New Orleans as you can living in Dallas:

  • $81,000 in Dallas, TX
  • $70,000 in New Orleans, LA

 

Flatbed Haulers in the Southeast

 

Flatbed truck drivers interested in making the most of crates of citrus, loads of power boats, and construction materials should high tail it to the Sunshine State. Keep in mind, however, that Florida and its panhandle are slightly isolated from the rest of the nation. This means your loads will be limited to regional, in order to make a decent living. Compare the annual median pay for flatbed trucking jobs in Atlanta and you might consider moving a little further north. Here are the pay medians:

  • $71,000 in Orlando, FL
  • $99,000 in Atlanta, GA

As noted Atlanta offers almost $30,000 more in pay per year. The cost of living for these two metro areas are not that different. Therefore, your decision should factor more into the environment. Would you prefer to live near the beach in Florida, or near the Appalachian Mountains in Georgia? Finding the perfect place to call home as a flatbed truck driver should involve more than just moving to a place that offers a high wage range. You want to be able to enjoy your livelihood on your days off the road, so you can rest up and recharge before you next flatbed load.