What Is the Average Pay for a Truck Driver? CDL Compensation Rates

Truck driving is extremely lucrative, especially in certain specialities, but you may be asking, “what is the average pay for a truck driver?” On average, across the United States, truck drivers make 70,000 to 80,000 dollars a year. 

What Is the Average Pay for a Truck Driver? CDL Compensation RatesMany variables go into answering, “what is the average pay for a truck driver?” Keep reading to find out how you can join the ranks of the many truck drivers who are in demand and well compensated. 

Compensation Types

1.Per Mile

In the trucking industry, most drivers get paid per-mile. Since October 2020, the wage per-mile has grown 10%.

To maximize mileage, truck drivers travel until they reach the Department of Transportation’s driving limit of 8 hours. After 8 hours, drivers rest for their mandated 30 minutes, and then drive another few hours. Meaning, drivers will often work 12 hour days to cover maximum ground. 

2.Freelance / Owner-Operator

New drivers have many companies to work for at a per mile rate. But another popular employment path for truck drivers is becoming a freelance owner-operator. As an owner-operator, you partner with trucking companies as an independent business.

While owner operators have more expenses for equipment and truck maintenance, and must also take out funds for tax purposes, there’s also increased compensation. On average, owner-operators can earn anywhere from 70,000 to 150,000 dollars a year.


Truck drivers are rarely paid a set salary independent of how much hauling they do. However, some companies prefer this model because it affords their employees more stability. 

Often companies with a set salary for truck drivers will pay slightly below the industry averages but include generous benefits packages. Meaning, salaried compensation may be a better choice for those wanting insurance for their family and 401k plans. 

Average Pay By Specialty 

Asking someone in the trucking industry, “what is the average pay for a truck driver?” will result in another question: “what are they driving?” 

Compensation for certain types of loads increased dramatically. However, to drive specialty products, truckers need advanced licensing and multiple years of experience. From easiest to hardest, below is a list that answers: “what is the average pay for a truck driver by specialty?”

First-Year Trucking

The typical beginner CDL is Class A. Most states require a clean driving record, that you be 21 or older, road and paper tests, and a physical before you get a Class A CDL. 

The average annual salary for entry-level truckers depends on where you are and in which state you’re licensed. In 2021, truck drivers with less than one year of experience averaged 60,000 dollars.

Team Driving

As mentioned above, drivers usually get paid per mile. Meaning, if you and a friend are both entering the truck driving business, team driving is an option that maximizes mileage and money! Working on opposite shifts for continuous movement, team drivers report salaries up to 110,000 dollars a year per person.


Shipping hazardous materials can earn truck drivers up to 90,000 dollars a year. To drive hazmat trucks, drivers need advanced endorsements however. To earn a hazmat endorsement, drivers must:

  • Be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.
  • Have a valid medical examiner’s certificate and commercial driver license (CDL) in the state where you’re applying for a Hazmat endorsement.
  • Pass the Hazardous Materials Endorsement Knowledge test.
  • Obtain a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) criminal background check.
  • Pass a DMV vision test.

Once these steps are completed, a hazmat endorsement on your CDL means you’ll be legally qualified to transport any hazardous material, including chemicals, gases, flammable and explosive materials. 

Oversized Hauling

Everyone’s been stuck behind an oversized vehicle on the highway. Did you know operating an oversized vehicle requires special licensing? In fact, each oversized load requires special permits. 

Oversized haulers make on average 90,000 dollars, but they do have to maintain top-of-the-line records of their load permits and licensing. 

Ice Road Trucking

Seen the show Ice Road Truckers? Then you know hauling in frigid conditions is especially dangerous. However, ice truckers make the annual trucking wage of 70,000 dollars in just a few months. 

Though some roads are only ice-cladden for certain months of the year, many ice truckers have business in Alaska year-round. Meaning they make 70,000 dollars a few times over. 

The List is Endless

Other specialties include: 

  • Flatbed Trucking
  • Refrigerated Freight Driving
  • Light Load Freight Trucking

All of these specialties and more make 10,000 to 15,000 dollars more than beginning truck drivers. 

Get Good Compensation with a CDL from Truck Driver Institute

Before you can earn the answer to, “what is the average pay for a truck driver?” you’ll need a CDL. Get a Class A CDL with Truck Driver Institute in just 3 weeks!

Truck Driver Institute both prepares drivers for the road and connects high-paying companies with recent Truck Driver Institute graduates. Truck Driver Institute boasts an 80% job placement rate for its graduates. Steps towards truck driving on the open road include:

  1. Pre-hire CDL job screenings. This pre-screening takes place before your training even begins. Truck Driver Institute will ensure you’re qualified to work in the industry before you step foot in a classroom.
  2. Job placement during CDL classes that ensures quick onboarding once certified. In fact, Truck Driver Institute will create an employment plan that’s tailor-made to your situation, skills, and career goals. 
  3. Post-graduation job placement offering continuous assistance throughout the many years of your trucking career!

Truck Driver Institute offers several financing options as well as accepting military GI Bill ® benefits, state funding, carrier-paid tuition, and a scholarship for self-paid applicants.

Ready to make over 60,000 a year? Contact Truck Driver Institute today!

Get Started

Get your Class A CDL in our friendly, supportive CDL training program. TRAIN with experienced instructors – multiple good-paying, secure job choices with benefits available for eligible graduates. EARN $700 – $1000+ / week to start as a truck driver. Get started today by filling out the form below. We look forward to hearing from you!