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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.

Important Facts About Truck Driving

Job Outlook (2019-2029) 2% (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 2020, the BLS reported that the lowest ten percent of heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers took home hourly wages of $14.74 or less an hour. PayScale.com published that, as of January 2021, an entry-level truck driver may earn an hourly wage ranging from $13.65 to $23.30 an hour; the median hourly rate was reported as $18.10 an hour.

Salary by Industry

According to the BLS, truck transportation services employed the greatest number of long-distance truck drivers in 2020. Roughly 848,030 truck drivers worked for truck transportation. Also in 2020, merchant wholesalers of nondurable goods employed 83,120 persons, warehousing and storage employed 70,190. The average annual salaries earned in each of these industry categories were reported by the BLS as follows: truck transportation, $49,420; merchant wholesalers of nondurable goods, $51,420; and warehousing and storage, $50,330.

Wages by State

The BLS lists the top five states with the highest average hourly wage as of May 2020. The list reflects total industry averages, not just entry-level averages. The top five states are, in order:

  1. Alaska ($28.70)
  2. District of Columbia ($26.61)
  3. New York ($26.58)
  4. Wyoming ($26.44)
  5. North Dakota ($26.23)