Driving a truck for a living can be a good way to make a decent income. There are certain types of truck-driving jobs that are more lucrative than others. If you are thinking about becoming a truck driver, the following jobs are among the most lucrative in the industry. The job that you pursue may depend on whether you want daily home time or if you prefer to drive over the road.
Truck driving can be a great career choice if you have a GED or high school diploma and want a good job that doesn’t require a substantial investment in higher education. When you choose one of these truck-driving careers, you can enjoy a good income that allows you to meet your needs. A more lucrative truck-driving position may make it likelier that you will earn the type of living that can help you to become financially comfortable.
Dump Truck Driver
Dump truck drivers haul loads of materials such as gravel, dirt, or coal and are often employed in the agricultural or construction industries. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the median annual salary for dump truck drivers is $34,000 per year, which means an average hourly rate that ranges from a low of $11.69 per hour up to $20.69 per hour.
Under the hours-of-service rules, dump truck drivers may work up to 60 hours during a seven-day period. The working hours are generally during the day, meaning dump truck drivers can enjoy time at home at night and on the weekends, and the drivers are typically employed locally.
To become a dump truck driver, you will need to complete a three- to a seven-week commercial driving course and obtain your class B commercial driver’s license in order to drive straight dump trucks up to 10,000 pounds of gross vehicle weight. You will need to get your class A commercial driver’s license to drive larger trailer-tractor dump trucks, which allow you to haul more material at one time. These larger dump trucks are those that have a gross vehicle weight of greater than 10,000 pounds.
Hazmat drivers are in the business of hauling hazardous materials, which are substances that have been deemed to be harmful to the environment and to health. Because of the dangerous nature of the substances that are transported by hazmat drivers, they earn among the highest salaries in the truck driving industry. Hazmat drivers can expect to earn a median annual income of $54,000, and some experienced Hazmat drivers earn as much as $82,000 per year at trucking companies such as Schneider.
In order to become a Hazmat driver, you will need to have your Class A CDL. You will also need to get a Hazmat endorsement. If your job will require you to drive tankers, you will need your tanker endorsement as well. Hazmat drivers also must be a minimum of age 21, and you must submit your fingerprints and pass a criminal background check.
Oversized Loads Driver
Like Hazmat drivers, drivers who haul oversized loads earn more money than other types of drivers. For example, you might drive with two trailers or haul things like houses and other oversized loads.
Most companies want to hire veteran drivers for these jobs. To improve your chances, you should also get a doubles or triples endorsement, a hazmat endorsement, and a tanker endorsement. You need to have a class A CDL, and you must be at least age 21 if you will be driving interstate.
The median salary for oversized loads drivers is $54,000 with mileage ranging from 42 to 53 cents per mile. Because it is not safe for oversized load drivers to pull onto the side of the highway for mandatory breaks under the hours of service rules, there is an exception to the requirement for them. You still will be required to observe the hours-of-service rules for the number of hours worked per day and per week, however.
Team Truck Driving
If you are able to get along well with others while in confined quarters, team truck driving can be a lucrative field. Team truck drivers earn more because they can switch off with each other so that the loads can keep moving while the drivers each take their required rest breaks in the sleeper area of the cab.
Since the trucking carriers are able to meet tighter deadlines with team drivers, they normally compensate them better than they do solo drivers. On average in the U.S., team drivers earn $60,000 per year with a salary range of $48,000 to $72,000. For team drivers, each driver must take 10 hours off in between driving shifts of a maximum of 11 hours. The hours of service rule for each driver still apply, but the ability to switch back and forth means that the truck can continue moving most of the time other than mandated rest breaks.
Specialty Car Transport Driver
If you have seen the trucks that haul vehicles in double-decker rows, the drivers are specialty car transport drivers. These drivers earn more than the average over-the-road truck drivers. Glassdoor reports that the median salary for a car hauler is $73,000 per year, and the salaries can range up to as high as $120,000 for haulers who transport luxury vehicles.
In order to become a specialty car transport driver, you will need to have your class A commercial driver’s license and at least two years of over-the-road experience. You should then complete a car hauler training course that lasts approximately four weeks.
It is a must to have a squeaky-clean driving record to land a car hauler job. You will be responsible for making certain that all of the cars are properly secured, and it is important that you avoid damaging the cargo while you are delivering or transporting them. Car haulers must observe the same hours of service rules that apply to other over-the-road drivers, so make certain that you understand the requirements that the FMCSA regulations have.
Liquid Hauling Driver
Liquid hauling drivers transport liquids of all types in tankers, including hazardous materials such as gasoline and liquid chemicals. If you want to be a truck driver who hauls hazardous liquids, you will need to have your Hazmat and tanker endorsements under the regulations promulgated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. You will also need to get your Class A CDL license and submit to a criminal background check from the Transportation Safety Administration.
Being a liquid hauling driver can be lucrative. According to Glassdoor, the base salaries for liquid hauling drivers range from $41,000 to $73,000, and the national average salary is $55,046. In addition to your tanker truck, you will also need specialized equipment such as hoses and pumps to offload the liquids that you haul. Under the hours-of-service rules from the FMCSA, you may drive up to a maximum of 60 hours in seven consecutive days and up to 11 hours per day after you have had a minimum of 10 hours off from driving.
Ice Road Driver
Ice road drivers drive over ice roads in Canada and Alaska and face some of the most hazardous conditions. If you are willing to assume the risks of ice road trucking, this specialty is among the highest paying truck driving jobs that are available. Ice road trucking is seasonal. You drive over frozen lakes and rivers to reach the northern-most territories during the winter months. As a result, you may drive through hazardous weather conditions with temperatures well below freezing. You might also expect to drive through snow and ice storms. According to Truck Driver Salary, it is imperative for ice road drivers to continue moving so that the ice will not cave.
The ice road trucking season may last for six weeks up to two months. Ice road drivers may expect to earn a salary that ranges from $20,000 to $80,000 for the season. If you can drive through winter storms and withstand temperatures that can drop to -70 degrees Fahrenheit, ice road driving may be a good choice for you.
To get a job as an ice road driver, you will first need to obtain your Class A CDL. It might also be beneficial for you to complete a winter driving training program to demonstrate that you are able to drive in harsh conditions. Since the companies that hire these specialized drivers are located in Canada, they generally prefer to hire Canadian citizens. However, it is possible for you to get a job as an ice road driver by securing a Canadian work permit.