Schneider Truck Driver Pay Pt. 2: Average Earnings Expectations

By Pat Lilja Sep 17, 2015
Average Driver Pay Earnings Expectations

This is the second in a two-part series taking a closer look at Schneider’s truck driver pay and benefits. In part one, Angela Fish, Schneider’s Vice President of Compensation and Benefits, described what makes Schneider’s benefits package unique. In part two, Pat Lilja, Schneider’s Senior Business Transformation Partner for Driver and Owner-Operator Compensation and Hire-to-Pay Processes, will give an overview of what truck drivers should expect to earn on average.

Truck drivers frequently ask what the average driver makes. Generally, my response is that there aren’t many average drivers, since everyone’s circumstances are unique.

The next question is about what their earnings expectations should be. Now that’s a great question! It’s important to set realistic expectations for starting a truck driving career, but drivers at Schneider can quickly climb the pay ladder.

Good news: The job is only new once

Early on, as an inexperienced driver you are challenged by the transition. The job is big — many hours alone, paid by the mile, hundreds of questions and everything is new. It’s important to stay focused on the fundamentals of safety, trip planning and asking for help when needed.

It’s a steep climb, but within a couple of months many of the challenges have been conquered and your career choice is coming into focus.

Successful drivers often set goals and track their results over time. While tracking is usually a month at a time, many drivers set goals seasonally, based on business cycles and weather. When you are an inexperienced driver, there is no substitute for experience. Based on what I’ve heard over the years from successful drivers, the items listed below are important.

What are experienced drivers tracking?

Average miles per work day. This will vary by driving opportunity, type of freight and region, but the table below is the average miles per driver per day for the Van Truckload Midwest Regional fleet.

For the last 12 months, this driver averaged 397 miles per working day. The miles vary day-to-day, however, over time, the number smoothes out.

Another key lever is “working days.” The number of working days is an important factor that determines earnings. Trucking is, by its nature, unpredictable. Delays caused by weather, customers, traffic, etc., can be frustrating and wreak havoc with good scheduling. Successful drivers set a target for revenue generating days. Most find 73 revenue days per quarter works well. That leaves 18 days off duty.

Successful experienced drivers have a few pointers to improve productive working days versus working more days:

  • When possible, take a shipment en-route through the house when going home. It gives you time off without time down waiting for a shipment when coming back into service.
  • When there is no shipment through the house, plan on being assigned to a shipment sometime Sunday. Nothing is more unproductive than waiting at the house for an assignment on Monday morning when you could be 300 miles down the road.
  • Deliver as early as possible and as close to your Estimated Time of Arrival (ETA) as possible. ETA ensures that the customer isn’t surprised by a late/early arrival. In addition, as a driver, the next shipment is tailored based on your empty time and hours of service. Experienced drivers always make setting an ETA look easy. In most cases, they learned the hard way. While using the trip planning tools isn’t a guarantee, it is something that partially replaces experience.

Where will you be in the future?

Example: Inexperienced Driver
Hire Date Sept 17, 2015
Miles per driver per day 397
Working days per quarter 72.8
Miles per quarter 28901.6
Bonus @ $.02 per mile $1907.51
Accessorials: stop-offs, hand loads and unloads… 5%

*This is only an example and numbers will vary, but this example is drawn from actual driver fleet averages and capability expectations.

Don’t let easy money slip through your fingers. With our pay-for-performance model, many bonus packages have a working days and ETA component. Based on your scores for “percent days worked” and “ETA to first delivery,” there are real earning opportunities. They are part of the quarterly and annual pay for performance scorecard and pay.

The chart on earnings demonstrates what an average driver would earn based on what is available in the freight network.

Remember, your success and good fortune as a driver is our success. Together we make this company, this industry and this economy great.

Earnings based on performance
10/1/2019 Third Anniversary $57,051.76
10/1/2018 Second Anniversary $53,410.16
10/1/2017 Year 1 to 2 $50,982.42
End of year one Year 1 total $41,028.71
4/1/2016 6 to12 months $24,277.34 100% capability
1/1/2016 3 to 6 months $9,346.78 80% capability
9/17/2015 Start to 3 months $7,404.59 70% capability

*This is only an example and numbers will vary, but this example is drawn from actual driver fleet averages and capability expectations.

Do you have any questions about Schneider’s overall truck driver compensation package?

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About the Author

Pat Lilja, Senior Transformation Partner for Driver and Owner-Operator Compensation

Pat has been with Schneider for 36 years, and is currently Senior Transformation Partner for Driver and Owner-Operator Compensation and Hire-to-Pay Processes. He works to ensure accurate and timely compensation that is market competitive and performance based, designed to attract and retain driver associates. He has held several other roles, including Regional Operation Director, Director of Van Operations Support, Director of Pay Services and Operation Center Manager.

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