What Type of Truck Driver Makes the Most Money?

Different make big rigs semi trucks tractors with loaded semi trailers standing in the row on truck stop parking lot at early morning waiting for the route continuation time according to the log book

If you’ve considered joining the transportation industry, you may wonder, “What kind of truck driver makes the most money?” Well, driver compensation can depend on several factors, including experience, driving record, level of risk, travel destinations, and the difficulty of the load. 

What Type of Truck Driver Makes the Most Money? Breaking it Down

There are several types of truck drivers. The average pay is usually based on the difficulty and riskiness of a load, along with the amount of travel required. That is why we break down some of the most common types of truck drivers and how much money they make. Many job options are available for anyone interested in becoming a truck driver.

Dry Van Drivers

Dry van hauling is one of the most popular trucking jobs for drivers. These haulers operate semi-trucks with long rectangular traitors. They deliver shipments of easy-to-transport goods, often packaged for them in pallets or boxes. Industries that use dry van haulers include:

  • Beauty
  • Food and beverage
  • Electronics
  • Cleaning products
  • and other consumer goods.

Dry van trucking is used primarily for loads that can not be exposed on a flatbed but do not require climate control. 

How Much Money Can You Make As A Dry Van Driver?

Dry van drivers make around $67,000 a year as the most common type of driver.

Refrigerated Hauler

Just like the name sounds, a refrigerated hauler is when it must remain at a specific temperature during transport. Because of this, drivers must know how to set and adjust the temperature of their trucks, which may need to be specialized.  

How Much Money Can You Make As A Refrigerated Driver?

On average, a refrigerated truck driver makes around $29 an hour, or just barely over $60,000 a year.

Oversized Load Drivers

Oversized load drivers are in charge of transporting dry products or machinery in open-air containers, usually because the size or shape of the cargo makes it too difficult to fit into a dry van. Because of the style of this truck, the transportation is often riskier, and often it is a longer drive than dry van drivers must take. As a result, an oversized load driver may be moving:

  • Construction Equipment
  • Mobile homes
  • Industrial machinery
  • Or other large hauls

Because of the size, drivers must follow additional regulations restricting their routes and the time of day they can move. Some even require an escort team.

How Much Money Can You Make As An Oversized Load Driver?

Because of the size and additional restrictions, these drivers have to have a much higher-than-average skill in maneuvering around the roads. These risks make them more highly compensated than other drivers, ranging around $80,000 a year or $40 an hour.

Tanker / Liquids Driver

This is the most dangerous – and therefore the most in-demand and well-paid – type of truck driving job. Tanker hauling is the transportation of liquids, hazardous and non-hazardous. But, because of how fluids work, something as simple as turning too sharply – a minor annoyance in regular driving – could be a disaster with a tanker driver.

How Much Money Can You Make As A Liquids Driver?

When wondering, “What type of truck driver makes the most money?” the answer in many parts of the country is a liquid driver. However, due to the risk involved, they make an average of over $90,000.

Regional Drivers

Regional freight haulers are a unique area within the trucking industry. Unlike most sectors, these truckers are usually restricted to one area pre-set by the company – within a particular state or area of the country. 

While it does not mean that regional drivers are only going to be doing local driving, it is more likely to have time home as regional drivers than those who travel farther across the country.

How Much Money Can You Make As A Regional Driver?

According to ZipRecruiter, the average salary for a regional driver is just over $70,000. However, this can vary dramatically depending on where in the country a driver is located.

Auto Haulers

This truck driver class uses a truck specifically designed for transporting cars. Considering the weight of vehicles, these truckers are handly heavy loads and must take more care on their drives – which means it is a highly employable skill. In addition, a particularly high-value car – such as a race car, collectible, or luxury vehicle – may be an enclosed truck to keep them safe from the elements during travel.

How Much Money Can You Make As An Auto Hauler?

Due to the extra precautions drivers must take with this high-cost cargo, an auto hauler can earn around $82,000 annually.

Hazmat Driver

A Hazmat driver constantly deals with dangerous materials. As a result, these drivers must be extra cautious. As a hazmat driver, the kind of auto accident a regular driver would consider a minor annoyance could suddenly lead to a severe disaster and possible death.

To be a hazmat driver, individuals must receive an extra hazmat certification to transport these possibly flammable, poisonous, corrosive, or flammable goods. These drivers also may need specialized equipment for their trucks.

How Much Money Can You Make As A Hazmat Hauler?

A hazmat driver makes an average of $61,000 a year, though individuals can earn up to $105,500 depending on the area.

What Type of Truck Driver Makes the Most Money? Start Earning Today with TDI

Truck driving is a very lucrative career right now, no matter what kind of driving. At TDI, all our faculty members are former drivers, meaning they have the real life to answer all your questions – including what type of truck driver makes the most money. 

With TDI, you can have a new career as a truck driver in less than a month. To learn more about starting your truck driving career, contact TDI 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!