How Do Truck Driver’s Make Money?

Truckers can make money for driving.  Also, truck drivers can make extra money for doing various different kinds of tasks that do not include driving.  Tasks that include physical labor, extra stops, or extra duties that are not part of the normal activity of driving.

Within these general answers lies a multitude of detailed different answers.  To know everything, even the unbelievable methods of making money as a trucker.  You must read this entire article!

How Truckers Make Money While Driving?

There are 4 ways truck drivers make money while they are driving a semi truck and trailer.  Normally these 4 ways depend more on the distance the truck driver travels.  Let me explain:

Within the trucking industry, there are 4 basic genres of truck driving.

Local Truck Driver – Typically this type of truck driver could go home every night.  Many local truck drivers are also home for either part of the weekend or the entire weekend.  Local truck drivers usually make their money on a per hour basis.

From the time they punch a clock to the time they punch off the clock.  Everything in between is paid for to an extent.  Some of these local truckers may make money from a set gross amount of the load pay instead of receiving an hourly wage.

Photographed by Big Truck Pictures

Regional Truck Driver – Regional Truckers tend to make their money normally by a per mile basis.  Many times this per mile pay is not actual miles, but instead, it may be from a bird’s eye view.  Basically meaning that look a map, draw a line between the origin and destination and that’s the paid distance in miles.

However, the above is not always the case.  At times there are regional drivers who make their pay by a percentage of gross from the load, or at times similar to the local trucker.  In the method of a set gross amount of the load pay.

Over The Road (OTR) Company Driver – OTR Truckers tend to make their money mostly by the per mile standard and in many cases very similar to that of a Regional Truck Driver.

The above 3 types are based on how company employed truck drivers make money.  Here is the last type:

Photographed by Big Truck Pictures

Owner Operator (O/O) – O/O’s make their money either by the load, a percentage the gross amount of the load or by the mile.  In some instances, O/O’s have been paid by the move or run as a set amount.  This is normally for transporting a trailer that is going maybe a 100 miles or less.

To sum up the above, truck drivers make money by driving a semi truck by 1 of 4 ways.  Normally truckers are only paid 1 way for driving.  If a trucker wants to be paid by the mile for example. Most likely the same trucker will not be given a salary and or a percentage of a load.


How Truckers Make Money While Waiting?

You heard the question correctly.  Truck drivers can make money by simply waiting for a customer to complete either loading or unloading a trailer of freight.  However, there is a catch.

That catch being, most trucking companies give the customer on average  2 hours to complete the task of loading or unloading.  If within this time frame this cannot be accomplished.  From this point forward, the truck driver can start earning extra money.

This extra method of making money is from a term called “Detention Time”.  Depending on if your a company trucker or an owner-operator will determine how much money you make from the detention time.

When detention time starts, it is rounded down to the nearest quarter hour.  At a rate based off an hour of time.  So if your a truck driver, and you have been waiting to be loaded for 4 hours and 35 minutes.  Your detention time would be calculated at 2 hours and 30 minutes of time.

If by chance a trucker is delayed for 24 hours or more.  Then detention time may not count for the 24 hour period of time.  That’s only because at this point a new term is introduced, “Lay Over Pay”.

Lay Over Pay is for a couple of different reasons.  Trucking companies know they will have a hard time collecting 22 hours of detention time from a customer.  Even though Lay Over Pay pays a higher amount based on how it is calculated, it is considerably less than a trucker making money from 22 hours of detention time.

However, the hours after the Lay Over Pay, could be calculated at a Detention Time rate.  Lay Over Pay is based on a full day of sitting rather than by an hourly basis.

Another way that truck drivers make money from Lay Over Pay is when the trucking company has the company truck driver sit at a location for 24 hours or more with no work to do.

O/O’s on the other hand at times set their own rates or go from a company standard that tends to be higher than what company drivers receive.


Make Extra Pay By Securing Freight!

Some trucking companies will pay the trucker a little bit of extra money for securing the freight.  With some that haul furniture, they call this blanket wrapping, which not only protects the freight from other freight on the trailer.  Also, it makes the freight more compact so that less movement equals more secure.

With flatbed haulers, many times this may come in the form of tarping.  Which ultimately is meant to help protect the freight from mother nature and acts of god to a degree.   While this is usually the main reasoning for tarping.

It’s not the only reason when a tarp is pulled over freight that is already secured.  This in a way can also act as a net, which adds just a little bit more to the securement of the freight itself.

In some areas of trucking, it is not the securement of freight, but at times it may be the testing of the freight to make sure it is not polluted like in some cases with hauling crude oil.  By securing the safety of the product could mean a little extra cash in a truckers pocket, or wasted time taking it to a different location as hazardous waste.

In some instances like in auto transportation.  At times a customer will pay extra to have their vehicle secured with straps instead of chains.  The difference here is that straps normally only go around the top of the tire and down to the platform.  Then with a couple of hooks and a ratchet is tightened down.

With chains, there are several different types of hooks, though the most commonly used is the T hook or the J hook.  Which slide into a specific spot located on each end of the frame on both sides of the vehicle.

Some makes and models are not built with these hole securement cutouts.  Once slotted into the correct location, the ratchet which is built onto the trailer or truck is tightened with a tie bar.


Truck Drivers Make Extra Money From Assisting!

From time to time a truck driver may be asked to assist in the loading or unloading process. This could include:

  • counting product
  • counting skids
  • making new stacks of product on new skids from single skids of the product taken off of the truck driver’s trailer
  • Applying any stickers of bar codes or product stickers that contain the product description to the skid of products.
  • Shrink wrapping a skid by hand with the shrink wrap hand roller.

Some of this is pretty easy and simple, especially the counting of products and things on this nature.  Where it becomes doing serious physical labor, is when the loading or unloading of an entire trailer is a must.

At times the trucking company may be willing to pay for “hired laborers” at an increased rate.  The trucking company also at times would prefer the truck driver to do the physical labor when possible.

Since it would cost the trucking company less.  If the trucker is up for it, this could be another method used for the truck driver to add to their paycheck.

Pro Trucker Hack: Before any truck driver volunteers to do extra work, they should always consult with their dispatcher or whoever could be responsible for adding the extra pay to their paycheck.


Can Truckers Make Extra Money From Having Multiple Stops?

Many motor carriers offer their company truckers additional pay for extra stops.  This is considered “Extra Stop Pay.”  This is calculated at a company rate, which normally does not include the origin or the destination.

Though it does include everything in between these two locations.  Even if there are 2 stops in the middle that are a mile apart from each other.

Outside of this, yet similar, is that some trucking companies will pay extra if the truck driver is willing to travel to areas that are high risk or tend to have large time delays.  I’m not sure if Chicago or Los Angeles traffic is more hectic during rush hour.

What I do know, is that some of the trucking companies that service the railroad yards with intermodal containers in these areas.  At times may pay the truck driver extra for just entering the rail yard with a loaded container for delivery.

The trucking industry average tends to be about 2 maybe 3 additional stops on these types of loads.  Most of this type of freight is considered Less Than Truck Load (LTL).  At times a trucker may get half of their trailer loaded at a full rate.  Which still leaves the other half that could be used to haul additional freight.  Under these types of circumstances, most company drivers may not make extra pay from these types of loads.

Though for an Owner Operator, they would make their pay from all loads of freight loaded onto or into their trailers.  Which in some form or way could be called extra pay from my viewpoint.


Extra Endorsements On A CDL Could Make A Trucker More Money!

The type of freight you can haul could also bring a truck driver extra pay.  The most common type of freight to haul is Common Commodities or freight of all kinds.  On a bill of lading, this is normally referenced as nonperishable goods.  This is how most truckers make the basic normal pay.  Though that’s not to say some of these truckers don’t make a lot of money.

Adding endorsements to your CDL usually comes with a fee.  Depending on the endorsement will determine the fee associated with the addition of the endorsement.  These fees can vary from $25.00 up to a couple hundred bucks.

Check with your local State Commercial Driving Licensing Branch to gain a better understanding of the fee’s associated with these endorsements.

(H) Hazardous Material’s Endorsement:

Back when I started truck driving, having a hazardous materials endorsement on your commercial driver’s license did not pay anything extra.  This was more than 19 years ago.

I had my hazmat endorsement for maybe my first 5 years and I did not make any extra money from it in the sense of “this is a hazmat load so we are going to pay you, Michael, $0.05 per mile more”.  Instead, what it did provide for me was the ability to keep turning the wheels and driving miles.

Which equals not sitting like others without a hazmat endorsement and me making more money because of less wait time in certain areas.

In today’s time, I am a bit envious.  Only because most trucking companies now provide an additional amount of money to the truck driver in addition to their regular pay rate for transporting a hazardous materials load while having the hazmat endorsement.

Even though usually this increase is normally only a few pennies extra per mile.  The miles can quickly add up.  Even if it’s only a penny for example. A 1,000 miles is an extra $10.00.  Now, most trucking companies offer more than a penny extra per mile to their company drivers for this endorsement when hauling a hazardous materials load.

On average I find this increase during this type of haul to be right around a nickel.  If we include doing this once a month over the course of a year.  Well, we can see how quickly it adds up.  Especially if this type of freight is hauled more often than what is described here.

(N) Tanker Endorsement:

If a truck driver was to also obtain the tanker endorsement.  These two endorsements when combined together, can help any trucker increase how they make money. Which also receives its only symbol on your commercial driver’s license (X) when combined together as a tanker and hazardous materials endorsement.

Instead of just hauling liquids like milk, or water and a bunch of other liquid things that are not considered hazardous materials.  This opens up freight like fuel, oil and a significant more types of liquid hazardous materials to transport.

Including the tanker endorsement with having the hazmat endorsement will help the trucker make additional money.  Sometimes these two can go hand in hand.

(T) Doubles Endorsement:

Photographed by Big Truck Pictures

Truckers that haul two shorter trailers together is considered doubles.  In some states, these small trailers can be as long as regular trailers.  Check with your state’s department of transportation to understand which types are allowed in your state.

One pup (short 20′ trailer) could be a hazardous load, and the other pup could be a nonperishable load.  Or combine this with the triples endorsement which is allowed in some areas and not allowed in other areas.  Could help a truck driver make just that much more money.

(T) Triples Endorsement:

In a sense is a lot like the doubles endorsement. The difference is instead of having 2 trailers being pulled.  There are a total of three being pulled.  Though this still falls under the same symbol when it comes to being licensed.

In a sense, depending on the area of trucking a truck driver is within, possibly having the majority of the endorsements could be a great way for how truckers make their money.


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About Michael : Semi Truck Driver

I have been a semi truck driver for approximately 20 years. Throughout this time I have been taught a lot of different things from a lot of different people through the years. I've also learned a lot of things from my own mistakes. With all of this in mind, allow me to share with you what I have been lucky enough to learn.

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