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Looking Both Ways


Truck Drivers Expect to be Paid

By John Mueller
Posted Feb 20th 2017 1:50PM

How Much Money Should Owner Operators Expect to Make? How Much Money Should Drivers Expect to Make? Some tips to help you make more.

The main factor in pay is the type of product the trucking company hauls. The Expedited Freight Industry is a specialty niche of the Trucking Industry. It operates very differently in many aspects from typical truckload freight. Flatbed trucking may pay more than Dry Van freight. Household goods movers may make more.

Having a great understanding of the segment of the trucking industry you work in affects pay. Would you go to an LTL company and question how many miles are you going to get a week? Do you think that Expediters work Monday through Friday, 9am to 5pm? If you do not understand how the business segment actually works (not how you think it should work) than you most likely won't make good money. Did you know that semi-drivers hauling Refrigerated (Reefer) trailers may have to pay "lumpers" to unload their trailers? Most reefer drivers understand their industry segment is not "no touch" freight. Expedited freight usually pays very well but experiences fluctuations in business levels due to supply and demand variances from other industries outside of trucking.

Type of equipment operated influences driver pay. Semi-tractors usually pay the highest, straight trucks slightly less, and cargo vans even less. Specialized equipment like such as rigging used to move over-dimensional loads and tankers may pay more.

How much experience the driver has affects pay. Trucking is just like every other industry. If you want to make the big bucks then you will need to work your way up. Like the CEO of a large corporation who started as a mail clerk, or a Safety Director who began their career auditing driver's logs. New, rookie drivers can expect to make $20,000 - $45,000 per year, with about $33,000 being average. Possessing a CDL does not entitle anyone to the same pay as another CDL holder. And remember - there aren't many careers that require little training and, no or limited experience, that pay as much as truck driving. Understand that it is tough to be hired with no experience. How do you get that required experience? Invest your time into a company that is willing to invest it's time into you. Expect to make less than what you think for that first year of driving. Many who consider driving for a living may have unreasonable expectations upon obtaining that CDL. Advertising which enhances driver pay may attribute to this.

Attitude. Be a team player. Maintain that "positive, confident person" attitude. Have the right mindset and keep all aspects in perspective. Be willing to do things that help those around you. You expect others to offer assistance to you on occasion, don't you? ... and isn't nice when someone goes above and beyond for you.

Professionalism. Present yourself as the highly paid professional that you aspire to be. Be professional in your appearance, your speech, and the way you maintain your vehicle. Be professional in the way that you deal with others. WWTPDD? What Would The Professional Driver Do? Want to find out how much money that really professional team makes? – emulate them!

Think as a business person. Even company drivers should make every attempt to reduce costs associated with operating their vehicle. Simple things such as reducing speed, reducing idling time, proper tire inflation and running non-toll roads versus toll roads are just some examples of cost saving measures. Keep the equipment in good shape and Keep it moving. If it ain't moving – the company is not making money and it can't move if it is not maintained. The company cannot pay you more if revenue monies are depleted through waste.

Owner Operator Pay

Being an Owner-operator is running a business. Period. There are no guarantees on pay or success.
Have necessary cash reserves to adequately run your business. Not being well funded from the start will adversely affect your pay. You could be forced to limit yourself because of the lack of cash needed to work. Seeking cash advances from the company will only start a hole that you can easily dig deep - quickly.

The restrictions or limitations that the owner operator chooses to place on the shipments and the driver's availability greatly affect pay. Having to get home in the middle of a week to care for personal business will affect your workweek and your settlement check. Not doing Canadian shipments, loads less than 100 miles, Hazmat, hand unload, or a myriad of other restrictions will reduce your ability to make money. Get it while the getting is good. Don't expect the world to revolve around your schedule. Expediting is cyclical. When freight is running strong it is wise to work as strong. When freight is slow then take a break.

So what do owner operators in Expediting or any other segment in trucking make? Well there is no typical owner operator just as there are no typical Doctors, assembly line factory workers and no typical actors or actresses. Think about this statement. Do all doctors make the same amount of money? Do all factory workers make the same amount of money? Do all actors and actresses make the same amount of money? Some drivers feel that all drivers should make about the same amount of money – which by the way, seems to be the amount of money that the highest paid driver in the industry makes.  Owner Operator average earnings can range anywhere from $35,000 to well over $100,000 after taxes and expenses. Owner operators working as Household Goods Movers, heavy haulers and Expediters – leased onto Motor Carriers can make in excess of a quarter of a million dollars before taxes. That figure may end up being well over $100,000 per year take home with a proper records and good accountant. If you have your own authority and your own customer base you can make more money. You also handle a lot more of the business side (a.k.a. office work). There is a lot you need to know about becoming an owner operator.

Bottom line, it is a business.