Editor’s note: This is an updated version of a post originally published on Sept. 17, 2015.
I frequently get asked, “How much does a truck driver make?” Or more specifically, “How much does an average truck driver make?”
Generally, my response is that there aren’t many “average” drivers since everyone’s circumstances are unique.
The next question I get is better: “Well, then what should my earning expectations be?” Now that’s a great question! It’s important to set realistic expectations for starting a truck driving career, while understanding that drivers at Schneider can quickly climb the pay ladder.
Good News: The Job is Only New Once
When you first start as an inexperienced driver, there’s a natural learning curve and lots of questions. It can take a few months to start refining the art of efficient time management, which will ultimately impact your truck driver pay potential. It’s important to stay focused on the fundamentals of safety, trip planning and asking for help when needed.
The capability levels in our example below factor in the learning curve. You will get increasingly efficient over your first few months.
What are Experienced Drivers Tracking?
Successful drivers often set goals and track their results over time. From what I’ve heard over the past 35-plus years in this industry, successful drivers track the following factors that lead to better truck driver pay:
- Average miles per work day – This will vary by driving opportunity, type of freight and region, but the example below is the average (over 12 months) miles per driver per day for Van Truckload Over-the-Road drivers. The miles vary day-to-day, but over time the number smooths out.
- Working days – Successful drivers set a target for revenue-generating days. Most find 73 revenue days per quarter works well, leaving 18 days off duty.
Successful experienced drivers focus on improving their productivity during working days rather than working more days (though that option is available, too). Here are nine tips to maximize miles from Schneider’s highest mileage driver.
Alright, So How Much Does a Truck Driver Make?
Here’s a truck driver pay example drawn from actual driver fleet averages and capability expectations, starting as an inexperienced driver within our Van Truckload Over-the-Road fleet:
|Hire date||March 30, 2018|
|Miles per driver per day||405|
|Working days per quarter||72.8|
|Miles per quarter||29,484|
|Performance pay ($.04/mile)*||$4,730.40|
|Accessorials: stop-offs, load/unload, ect||5%|
*The annualized Performance Pay takes into account the varied number of days and working days in each quarter.
Factoring in Schneider’s improved performance pay and automatic annual increases, plus the latest Van Truckload pay increase, here is what that truck driver pay would look like for the driver above hired today:
|Date||Earning timeframe||Earning potential||Capability level|
|March 30, 2018||Start to 3 months||$8,909.41||70%|
|July 1, 2018||3 to 6 months||$11,613.13||80%|
|October 1, 2018||6 to 12 months||$29,062.40||100% Capability|
|End of first year||Year 1 total||$49,584.94|
|April 1, 2020||Year 2 total||$60,608.25|
|April 1, 2021||Year 3 total||$61,849.98|
|April 1, 2022||Year 4 total||$63,091.71|
|Future earnings potential||$69,300.36|
How to Earn Even More
Again, it’s important to emphasize that the above is an example of averages within our Van Truckload Over-the-Road fleet.
You have the power to increase your earnings, and Schneider has many Over-the-Road drivers earning much more. Here are ways you can add to the above:
- Drive more miles per day and/or work more days – up to $79,000 per year
Our top-performing Van Truckload Over-the-Road drivers are hitting this amount, and the freight is available throughout the year to pull it off.
- Choose a different freight type, like Tanker jobs hauling liquids – up to $82,000 per year
The added level of expertise and special handling required for certain freight types means higher earning potential. Schneider has a huge variety of options to choose from as you start your career, and you can switch to different freight types throughout your career with Schneider.
- Team up with a driving partner – up to $85,000 per year each
Team drivers are able to rack up more miles while hauling premium freight, leading to the highest earning potential in the company.
Ultimately, truck driver pay boils down to what you want out of your driving career and understanding the trade-offs with each opportunity.
But Wait, There’s More …
In addition to the above mileage, performance, annual increase and accessorial truck driver pay, you can also get:
- A sign-on bonus — on many positions (e.g. limited-time Team bonuses up to $30,000)
- Unlimited referral bonuses – up to $3,000 for each company driver or owner-operator you refer who joins Schneider
- Health benefits – medical, dental and vision insurance, plus flexible spending options
- 401(k) – a leading plan with company match
- Paid orientation – top training
- Paid time off – the flexibility you need
- Driving school tuition reimbursement – Up to $7,000, paid at $200/month
- Paid CDL training and refresher course – options with up-front payment
- Credit for Military Experience – higher starting pay if you’ve served
- Free amenities – a nationwide facility network with parking, showers, laundry and more
- More – learn about all driver benefits
Ready to join the Schneider family?
Explore all driving jobs near you and apply to join our Schneider fleet.
Do you have any questions about truck driver pay at Schneider, a top-paying carrier according to the National Transportation Institute?