There is a number of factors that can influence your paycheck as a truck driver. How much can you make as a trucker in 2021? What type of trailer and position should you choose? You can find the answers below and compare truck driver salaries in 2021 on the main job platforms.
How much do truck drivers make?
There are two main factors that are connected to a certain extent – a type of trailer you haul and the position you hold (local, regional or OTR).
Types of trailers to choose:
- Dry van
- Specialty loads (Intermodal, Autohauler, Over-Dimensional loads, Livestock, Ice trucking)
The first three are the most popular and the truck driver doesn’t need to have any special endorsement to haul them. You just need to have a valid CDL class A license.
Dry van trailer
Dry van is the most common type of freight transportation in the United States. This type of trailers is so popular thanks to its suitability for shipping all non-perishable consumer goods. Dry vans are available for truckload and less-than-truckload shipment types. These trailers are fully enclosed and sealed to protect the shipment from any external influence.
Truck drivers need to have CDL class A license with no additional endorsement to haul this type of trailer.
Most of the drivers start their trucking career from a dry van type of trailer. Experienced truck drivers choose dry vans because of less stress and safer job. In addition, there is a wide range of companies to choose from.
Refrigerated trailers are similar to standard 48’ or 53’ dry van trailers but they have temperature regulation tools. This type of trailers includes both refrigerators and freezers, and they are primarily used to transport food.
Hauling a Reefer means making more money but at the same time it leads to additional responsibilities. Reefer drivers are responsible for cleaning the trailer after every load, they need to control the temperature and check cooling equipment.
Most drivers jump to Reefer after a few years of Dry Van experience when looking to diversify and better pay. Reefer jobs are usually presented by regional and over the road positions. Drivers often have to work odd hours and drive at night. That could be hard. Moreover, a long time for loading and unloading is common.
Flatbed driving is considered to be one of the most adventurous types of trucking. Hauling oversized loads requires a high level of maneuvering and other special skills. This often leads to higher rates than for dry van hauling.
Flatbed drivers are required to do some physical work as a part of their daily routine, such as secure the loads with traps. Drivers are responsible for securing loads properly and this could be extremely complicated and dangerous. Poorly secured freight is a threat not only for the driver but for other motorists as well.
Tanker truck driving jobs are usually the highest paying jobs on the road. Unlike Dry Van, Reefer or Flatbed, hauling a tanker requires endorsement. It could be N or X endorsement, where X endorsement combines tanker endorsement with HAZMAT endorsement.
Hauling Tanker could be dangerous and needs special skills. Tanker drivers get such advantages as higher pay, faster loading and unloading. Tanker jobs are often regional or local, so drivers have better home time.
How much do truck drivers make in 2021?
Based on job platform’s statistics the average annual salary in the US is $64 270. This number is based on the data that job platforms have collected within 1 to 3 years.
Taking into consideration the pay raise that took place in summer-autumn 2020 and in spring 2021, the average salary for truck drivers in 2021 reaches $78-85K per year.
At Brite Logistics OTR truck drivers earn 83-91K per year for Solo drivers and 180-215K for Teams.
Truck driver salary statistics
According to Indeed the average salary of an OTR truck driver is $77 442. These salary estimates are based on 5,9K salaries submitted anonymously to Indeed by over the road truck driver employees, users, and collected from past and present job posts on Indeed in the past 36 months.
According to Zip Recruiter, the national average salary for OTR truck drivers is $63 888.
Glassdoor tells us that the average base pay for OTR Truck drivers is $50 396 and most job offers lie between $35-45K per year.
Most of the jobs you can find on job platforms are Dry Van jobs. Reefer and Flatbed jobs are often supposed to be highly paid, but according to the ads on top job platforms like Indeed, it’s not so unequivocally. You can find ads where reefer drivers can earn $1000 per week while dry van drivers are offered $2000 per week.
The tendency shows that the bigger carrier is, the lower salary drivers get. Truck drivers go to big trucking companies for job security and benefits. The drivers ready to take some risks, choose small newly born companies with 1 to 5 trucks to get higher pay.
The best option is to look for a middle-sized carrier with a good balance of pay and benefits. At Brite Logistics you can earn decent money and get a bunch of benefits like insurance, 401(k) match, or corporate discounts.
You can bump into ads promising unrealistic pay and miles, like 0.8 cpm and 4000 miles per week for a solo driver. In this case there is always a risk of not getting your paycheck, driving with violations or losing your job at any moment.