How much do you earn as a truck driver? Would want to double your income? This is every employee’s dream. Everyone wants to earn a higher salary and live a better life.
The need for better pay is the reason why people move from one company to another. How can you increase your salary as a trucker?
Well, your salary depends on your level of experience, training, mileage, and employer. The Bureau of Labor estimated that truck driver earn an average salary of $39,400 every year.
The statistics were released in 2010 and hence the amount has increased over time. The truth is that the US economy depends on the trucking industry.
The industry generates about $300 billion every year and employs close to a million drivers. About 70% of all goods in the US are transported using trucks.
Hence, it is unlikely that you will be unemployed if you join the industry. The greatest challenge for truck drivers is not getting a new job but increasing their salary. Keep reading to learn how you can earn a higher salary as a trucker.
- Increase your level of experience
Employers consider your level of experience when determining your salary. When you apply for a new job, the employer will ask about your experience. The most experienced drivers earn the highest amount in the industry.
Many drivers wait until they get a formal job to start working as a truck driver. Look for a place to volunteer after your training. When you get your first job, you will have some experience to show.
If you have been working as a driver, look for opportunities to drive different trucks.This will depend on your level of training. Go back to training for all types of truck if you have to but gain experience with different trucks.
- Get endorsements on your CDL
Some trucking jobs do not require a CDL. Hence, many truck drivers work for years without it. Unfortunately, this limits the types of jobs you get and your salary.
Take a CDL exam first to get your license. That is only the first step. You need different endorsements on it so that you can work in different fields. Most carriers that use specialized trucks require specialized truck drivers.
When you get different endorsements, you can transport different kinds of goods. Hence, you will increase the number of job opportunities you can get. A general CDL enables you to drive a truck with a single trailer.
You will not make much money with that. A double and trailer endorsement enables you drive trucks with multiple trailers. You can get endorsement for tanker vehicle to transport liquids.
Another endorsement you can add to your CDL is hazardous materials endorsement. As the name suggests, you will be allow to carry hazardous materials.
The mileage covered every day or month determines your net income. If you are just driving within your state, you may not earn much. Try to get an inter-state endorsement so that you can transport goods across borders.
You can also get an air brake endorsement to drive trucks with air brakes. The secret is to consider the type of trucks that the best employers in your state use. Get endorsements that will enable you to get a job in any of the best carriers in your state.
- Improve your sales abilities
You may be wondering, why do I need sales abilities as a trucker? Working as a trucker means that you deliver goods from your employers to the supplier or customers. Hence, you professionalism influences how the customers and employer perceive you as a trucker.
Truckers spend much time on the road. That does not give you a reason to be untidy and rude to the people you interact with daily. Learn to sell yourself as the most competent truck driver. Take a shower daily and be smartly dressed at all times no matter the goods you transport.
Be kind to the customers or suppliers and ensure you deliver goods on time. The customers will give a positive report to your employer. You can easily get a better job with a better pay when you learn to handle customers well.
- Learn how to operate different machinery
Your specialization is driving different trucks. However, your skills should not be limited to driving. Identify complementary skills that will improve your competitiveness as a driver.
For instance, learn how operate machines at your employer’s site. If you work in for a construction company, do not spend all your time in your truck.
Learn how to operate machines especially loading equipment and heavy haulers. Learn how to operate a skid loader or container loaders. Other skills that will help you increase your income are truck repair and maintenance.
You do not have to wait until your truck goes to a mechanic to notice mechanical problems. You can take short courses to learn how to repair and maintain trucks. With such skills, you can negotiate for a better pay as you apply them at your work place.
- Look for a job that pays per mile
Does your employer pay you per hour? If yes, consider looking for another job where you can be paid per mile. Why is this important?
When you are paid per miles, you can plan your routes such that you cover more miles daily. You know the routes that have heavy traffic and the times of the day to avoid those routes.
Most trucks have route optimizers to help you spend less time on the road. Learn how to use the optimizers to your advantage based on your routes.
Another advantage of being paid per mile is that you can work longer hours and earn bonuses. Some companies have bonus schemes to encourage their drivers to increase their weekly and monthly mileage.
If your current schedule is not overwhelming, you can put in a few more hours every week. Combining extra hours with route optimization will help you increase your basic salary and bonuses.
You may spend more time on the road but you will achieve your goal of earning a higher salary. If you do not have a job at the moment, look for opportunities that pay per mile. You will have an opportunity to earn a between salary from the start of your career.
- Become an OTR driver
Earning a higher salary may require you to make some sacrifices. If you are a regional driver, consider getting the necessary certification to become an over the road driver.
Regional drivers earn an average of $50,000 while OTR drivers earn between $50,000 and 90,000. The actual salary will depend on your level of experience and training.
The downside of working as an OTR driver is that you spend more time on the road. You will occasionally be away from your family for weeks and sometimes month.
In addition, you need to improve your driving skills to remain safe. You must remain keen on the road even after driving for thousands of miles.
The bright side is that your family will have a better life when you make the sacrifice. You can earn even more when you are paid per mile as an OTR driver.
- Look for jobs in top companies
You have a role to play in increasing your level of skills and experience. However, your employer can only pay you based on the company performance.
Established companies earn higher revenues every year. Hence, they pay their drivers higher salaries and give allowances and benefits. Every driver dreams of working in such companies.
Hence, you must realize that the competition for jobs is very high. The requirements are also high and so you need to get all the CDL endorsements you can get.
You may be lucky to find a job in a top company after your training. However, sometimes it takes years of working in other companies to qualify for jobs in top companies.
The secret is to keep sending your applications to the best employer even as you work for small companies. When you get a job in a top company, you enjoy benefits such as stock option, medical insurance covers, and longer vacations.
The benefits should entice you to keep trying your luck and improving your skills.
- Improve your reputation
Sometimes you can focus more on increasing your mileage or number of hours and forget your reputation. Employers consider your reputation when hiring you.
Your reputation goes beyond your skills, experience, and CDL endorsement. Safety is very important to carriers. You must learn to follow safety regulations when you are on the road. Notice any changes in regulations across states and follow.
Your goal should be building a reputation of the safest or most careful truck driver in your category. Careless drivers are costly because of damaged goods and trucks.
Learn how to increase your speed on the road without endangering your life or damaging the truck. While you want to work for longer hours and earn more, you must allocate enough time to rest.
Do not take too many unnecessary risks on the road. You are in a better position to get well-paying job with a good reputation.
- Specialize in driving dump trucks
Many drivers want to earn a higher salary but work in a clean environment. Most of them want to deliver consumer products across towns and cities. You cannot be choosy when you want increase your salary.
If you have worked in the trucking industry for some time, then you know dump truck drivers earn higher salaries. As you increase skill and experience level, think about the requirements for dump truck drivers.
This job will require you to transport construction materials most of them time. You will also spend much time in construction sites loading and off loading materials. You must be careful as a dump truck driver because you rarely drive on a level ground.
Your truck may topple if you are not keen. As you gain experience, it becomes easier to balanced a loaded truck on an even ground. The good news is that your salary will also increase as you gain experience.
- Work as a reefer truck driver
An alternative to working as a dump truck driver is working as a reefer truck driver. The drivers earn a higher salary than others do because they carry sensitive materials.
You will realize that in the trucking business the nature of materials you carry matters. Any drive can transport normal goods like dry foodstuffs, furniture, and clothing.
However, it takes a specialized and careful to transport delicate items safely. Hence, such drivers earn a higher salary. When you work as a reefer truck driver, you have to keep truck of the temperature of the goods. You make several stops to ensure the temperature of the load is right.
The good news is that such drivers always have goods to transport. The scale is already higher for reefer truck drivers. However, you can increase your pay further by increasing your mileage.
- Start your own trucking business
You may have spent several years driving other people’s truck for a living. You have to follow their rules and regulations to retain your job.
You also have to follow the work schedule given. You can earn higher and choose your working hours by starting your own. The scale of the business will depend on the amount of money that you have.
You can buy one truck and become an owner operator. You get your own clients and determine the type of goods to transport. You choose your routes and can go for as many tips as you can handle per week. Owner operators earn between $150,000 and $250,000.
The amount is three times higher than the earnings of general truck drivers. You will spend a lot of money buying the truck but you will earn it back. As you expand, you can buy more trucks and hire other drivers to work for you. You must dream bigger than just working for the top companies.
The greatest concern among employees including truck drivers is their net income. Many can bear with severe working conditions as long as the income is high.
You can earn a higher salary as a truck driver if you know the tricks of the trade. You do not have to work under severe conditions to earn better. However, you will need to make a few adjustments and sacrifices. Increase your level of experience by driving different types of trucks.
You need endorsements on your CDL to drive different trucks or carry some specialized goods. In addition, you can specialize in jobs that pay higher than general trucking jobs. Dump truck drivers and reefer truck drivers earn higher salaries.
The alternative way to earn higher salary as a trucker is becoming an owner operator. You can triple your earnings when driving your own truck. Do not settle for a low pay when you can earn higher and live a more comfortable life. The secret is to improve your skills and explore as many opportunities as you can in your state.