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Understanding Truck Driver Compensation

Understanding Truck Driver Compensation

Understanding how truck drivers are paid can be beneficial for prospective and existing truck drivers. A Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) is a basic requirement for truck drivers, but those looking for a larger paycheck could increase their chances by adding endorsements on top of this. A HazMat endorsement for instance can authorize drivers to haul hazardous goods and get a higher pay per mile. 

Learning about the various types of truck driver pay such as hourly pay, pay per mile, and special incentive pay can help drivers maximize their monetary rewards. 

How Do Truck Drivers Get Paid?

Several factors can impact how truck drivers are paid. Some of these include location, number of miles driven, CDL qualifications, type of goods hauled, haul range, and years of experience as a truck driver. 

Types of Truck Driver Pay 

Most often, truck drivers are paid a fixed amount per mile that they drive on company time, typically expressed in cents. Other companies pay truck drivers a base salary or a certain rate per hour. Understanding other terms used can help individuals better understand a truck driver paycheck. 

Base Pay

There are different types of base payment methods for truck drivers that make up the bulk of their salary. This includes pay per mile, hourly, salary, and pay per load. On top of these base salaries, they may also get paid bonuses or specialty pay. 


Like many other industries, hourly pay is one of the methods by which truck drivers are paid. This type of pay is more typical for intrastate delivery companies who drive their goods from point to point in areas under 150 miles from their main base, like warehousing businesses. Typically, truck drivers can expect frequent stops, and loading and unloading of goods. 

Pay Per Mile

One of the common methods of how truck drivers are paid is pay per mile or cents per mile (CPM), which is based on how many miles they drive for the company. There are different types of mileage pay for drivers. 

It could be based on practical mileage or the number of miles based on the most direct path between your start and end address. 

Alternatively, it could also be based on household goods miles (HHG), based on the most direct path between the post office zip code in the origin city and the post office zip code in the destination city. 

Hub mileage or actual miles uses the odometer to track the number of total miles driven including stops and route changes. Finally, sliding scale pay is another way to track routes in given ranges. 


On the other hand, truck drivers that are paid on a salary basis are given a more stable truck driver paycheck since it isn’t based on hours or miles. A flat rate is given to them at the start of the job, and they will typically earn this amount on a weekly basis. 

Pay Per Load

Truck driver pay per load is quite rare for most drivers. Drivers are given a fixed amount for every load they deliver, regardless of distance or hours. Some industries that use this method of payment are oil and gas companies and agricultural firms. 

Additional Truck Driver Pay

In addition to base salaries and truck driver pay per load, there are other ways that a driver can increase their pay. 

Per Diem

Per diem pay is given on a daily basis, per mile, or as a percentage. It is a form of reimbursement for truck drivers that spend money on a place to stay, meals, and other incidental expenses they might incur. This comes with a lot of benefits during tax season. 

Detention and Layover Pay

In the event that a truck driver is delayed at a shipper or receiver, they may get detention pay. Layover pay is something that can be given to truck drivers who need to wait between loads if the delay is beyond their control. This can be beneficial for truck drivers who are paid by the mile.

Some companies also provide additional breakdown pay when truck incidents happen on the road and drivers cannot log miles because of this. 

Stop Pay

Stop pay is given to truck drivers who need to make several stops, generally excluding the first or last destination. This compensates for the time that drivers can’t log miles on their logbooks, since a large number of deliveries means more time spent stopped and fewer miles logged. 

Special Incentive Pay

Truck drivers may earn extra money on top of basic roles. This can include difficult locations, hauling hazardous materials, making border crossings, or fulfilling duties that are out o the ordinary. Some examples include tarp pay for flatbed drivers and truck drivers hauling refrigerated goods. To add to this, truck drivers who have earned endorsements such as HazMat, Tanker, Doubles/Triples, or TWIC cards can generally net larger salaries and bonuses over time. 


On top of truck driver pay per load, truck drivers can also receive additional income through bonus pay. Although it varies per company, some companies provide bonus pay for positive inspections, safe truck driving, and fuel use. Companies can also provide added hiring bonuses, referral bonuses, performance bonuses, and on-time delivery bonuses. 

Bonus pay can increase truck drivers’ income by around several thousand dollars every year depending on the company you choose to work with. 

Team Driver Pay

Unlike solo drivers, team drivers can get a slightly higher truck drivers salary per mile. They share the same rate compared to solo company drivers. A team driver might earn a higher income since they can drive more miles as a team. 

Usually, drivers split mileage pay evenly but some drivers might have a different per-mile rate. They may also get bonuses for mileage targets or for a more extensive driving experience. 

Owner Operator Pay

Owner operators typically get paid percentage pay as a form of income. Usually, they decide on which percentage of the linehaul or gross revenue of the load to receive without the fuel surcharge. Loads with a higher gross revenue net greater payout for the driver. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some frequently asked questions people have about truck drivers salary per mile, annual salaries, and more. 

What is the highest paying truck driving job?

Although it may vary, one of the highest paying truck driving jobs in the United States is from Walmart. They have a large fleet of trucks and pay company truck drivers an average of $87,000 on an annual basis. 

What is the lowest salary for a truck driver?

Although it varies, the lowest salary for a truck driver is an entry-level salary of $39,000 yearly. However, there are plenty of factors that affect a truck driver paycheck. 

Is being a truck driver worth it?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, truckers earn a median annual wage of $48,310 per year or $23.23 per hour, which is slightly below average. However, there are plenty of ways to improve a truck drivers salary per mile. 


Overall, truck drivers can earn a good income based on the distance they drive, hours worked, and other qualifications. On average, drivers earn around $48,310 on an annual basis, while Over The Road (OTR) drivers who haul freight over long distances earn on average nearly $64,000 per year. 

On the other hand, getting hired to join a private fleet can increase truck driver income dramatically. For instance, truck drivers for large companies like Walmart can earn around $87,000 in their first year. Signing bonuses, retention bonuses, referral bonuses, and safe driving bonuses can also add several thousands of dollars to an annual income. 

Read on to learn more about signs that indicate you may be a good truck driver on Assured Standard today! 


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