What Is the Average Entry-Level Wage for a Truck Driver?

Different types of truck drivers in the United States have different average entry-level wages. Read on to learn more about the entry-level salaries and wage information for tractor trailer truck drivers. Schools offering Driver Training degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Important Facts About Truck Driving

Job Outlook (2016-2026) 6% (for all heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers)
Entry-Level Education Postsecondary non-degree award
On-the-Job Training Short-term on-the-job-training
Similar Occupations Bus drivers, railroad workers, taxi drivers and chauffeurs
Licensing Commercial driver's license required

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Median Hourly Wages

Wages vary for tractor trailer truck drivers, as do the methods in which those wages are paid. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov) reports wages for the lowest to the highest earners in any given occupation. The amount of experience is one factor that strongly influences the wages earned by a truck driver, although education and training, specifics employers, location, and industry are influential, as well.

In May 2019, the BLS reported that the lowest ten percent of heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers took home hourly wages of $13.54 or less an hour. PayScale.com published that, as of June 2019, an entry-level truck driver may earn an hourly wage ranging from $12.91 to $22.22 an hour; the median hourly rate was reported as $17.40 an hour.

Salary by Industry

According to the BLS, truck transportation services employed the greatest number of long-distance truck drivers in 2018. Roughly 880,710 truck drivers worked for freight trucking services. Also in 2018, non-metallic mineral product manufacturing companies employed 68,770, and merchant wholesalers of nondurable goods employed 80,780 persons. The average annual salaries earned in each of these industry categories were reported by the BLS as follows: truck transportation, $46,230; non-metallic mineral product manufacturing, $43,280; and merchant wholesalers of nondurable goods, $47,730.

Wages by State

The BLS lists the top five states with the highest average hourly wage as of May 2018. The list reflects total industry averages, not just entry-level averages. The top five states are, in order:

  1. Alaska ($27.71)
  2. District of Columbia ($25.37)
  3. North Dakota ($25.04)
  4. Nevada ($24.48)
  5. New York ($24.26)

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