Have you found yourself wondering, “How much does a Class A CDL driver make?” Would you like to learn more about CDL average pay so that you can maximize your earning potential? Interested in becoming a professional truck driver, but not sure which positions offer the best compensation?
If you said, “Yes!” to any of the above questions, then this guide is for you. Below, you’ll find a rundown of Class A CDL pay. We’re going to discuss the average salaries of CDL drivers and how you can get paid more as a professional driver. Additionally, we’ll go on to outline the eight highest-paying CDL jobs out there.
What Is a Class A Truck Driver?
A Class A truck driver carries a Class A commercial driver’s license (CDL), which is the highest class of license you can obtain. A Class A CDL allows you to drive a broad range of commercial vehicles, including semi-trucks and trailers with a gross vehicle weight in excess of 26,001 pounds.
To help you learn more about Class A CDL pay, we have answered some frequently asked questions below.
What Is the Average CDL Class A Truck Driver Salary?
In the United States, the average Class A truck driver’s salary is approximately $57,000 annually or about $27.84 per hour. The top 10% of earners may bring in $86,000 or more per year. However, your exact earnings will vary based on factors such as the state you work in, your experience, and the type of equipment you transport.
What State Pays CDL Drivers the Most?
According to Zippia, the top five states for CDL driver salaries are as follows:
- North Dakota – Match Now
- Wyoming – Match Now
- Indiana – Match Now
- Illinois – Match Now
- Michigan – Match Now
When creating their list, Zippia adjusted the actual average salary of drivers based on the cost of living in each state. While some other states may pay a higher nominal salary, these wages were offset by a higher cost of living.
How Can I Get Paid More as a CDL Class A Truck Driver?
If you would like to get paid more as a CDL Class A truck driver, then you may want to:
- Become an owner-operator.
- Get additional endorsements
- Move to a state that pays better
- Switch employers
Keep in mind that you will likely need to acquire some experience before you can obtain a position with a top-paying employer or relocate.
Factors That Affect a Truck Driver’s Salary
Several factors may influence your salary as a Class A truck driver, including the following:
The region where you operate can significantly impact how much you earn. For instance, several states in the Southeast United States pay drivers slightly less, on average, than other regions.
Type of Equipment
The type of equipment you use will also impact your salary. For instance, drivers who haul equipment on flatbeds typically earn less than those who deliver refrigerated goods. This difference is likely because unloading refrigerated goods is more time-consuming and labor-intensive.
Drivers with an abundance of experience will usually have a higher earning potential than newer truckers. Offering experience-based pay is a common practice across many industries, including the supply chain and logistics space.
Many companies, especially over the road (OTR) businesses, pay drivers by the mile. The better your per-mile rate and the farther you drive, the more you will earn. However, drivers are only allowed to spend a certain number of hours behind the wheel each day.
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), truckers can drive 11 hours after spending 10 consecutive hours off duty.
To fill vacancies and attract talented drivers, some businesses will offer premium pay. However, one of the best ways to earn more as a CDL driver is to strike it out on your own as an owner-operator. Once you get established, you can earn significantly more than drivers who work for private companies.
8 Highest-Paying Jobs for Class A CDL Drivers
The 8 highest-paying jobs for Class A truck drivers are as follows.
An owner-operator is a CDL driver who owns their own truck and contracts their services out to logistics companies. Owner-operators can earn over $200,000 per year.
However, a large portion of that money will be used to buy fuel, maintain the truck and trailer, and cover other business expenses. Still, many drivers prefer going the owner-operator route because of the freedom and independence it offers.
Ice Road Drivers
As their title implies, ice road drivers travel over frozen bodies of water like rivers, ponds, or lakes. Ice road driving is incredibly dangerous, as truckers must contend with avalanches, blizzards, accidents, limited visibility, and cracking ice.
Due to the dangerous nature of this work, drivers can earn up to $80,000 in a single season of three to four months.
In the trucking industry, an oversized load is a load that surpasses the maximum size or weight thresholds for hauling equipment. Oversized loads travel on flatbeds or specialized trailers.
Because hauling oversized loads requires a higher level of skill, drivers typically receive better compensation than they would if transporting normal freight. The top 2% of oversized load drivers can earn in excess of $90,000 per year.
Specialty Vehicle Haulers
A specialty vehicle hauler transports cars, trucks, and unique vehicles to various businesses. The average annual earnings for a vehicle hauler total approximately $57,000. Top earners can bring in over $70,000.
A hazmat tanker driver must have a Class A CDL and a “hazmat endorsement.” This endorsement indicates that they have been trained to safely haul hazardous materials, including fuel and chemicals. Hazmat drivers can earn upwards of $80,000 per year.
Massive companies like Amazon and Walmart have their own private fleet of trucks and trailers. These businesses do not outsource logistics needs, but instead, transport products using their in-house team of drivers.
Private fleet positions often pay much better than standard logistics companies. For instance, the earning potential for a Walmart driver is approximately $110,000.
Mining Industry Drivers
Truck drivers working in the mining industry are responsible for hauling important minerals like coal or phosphate. On average, these drivers bring in approximately $58,241 annually. More experienced drivers can earn upwards of $90,000.
A team driver works in tandem with another CDL holder. The two truckers will drive in shifts to deliver loads sooner. While one driver is enjoying their mandated off-duty time, the other person can rack up miles. Each member of an experienced driving team can earn six figures annually.
Why So Much Variation in CDL Pay?
Now that we have answered the question, “How much does a Class A CDL driver make?” you may be wondering why there’s so much variation within the trucking industry. The truth of the matter is that there’s no easy answer to this question.
That’s because the variations in CDL Class A salary can be impacted by many factors, including the company you work for, where you drive, how many hours you log, and the type of freight that you haul.
If you’re interested in becoming a professional driver and want to maximize your Class A CDL pay, take time to explore these highly compensated positions.