How Much Do Truck Drivers Make Per Mile?

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If you going to be an aspiring over-the-road trucker, you might be curious about how much salary will be paid for services rendered.

One factor that influences how much an OTR trucker can make is whether they get paid per hour or per mile. Getting paid per mile, in particular, is dependent on three key factors: where you work, how many years you have been in the business, and the company you work for. So, how much do truck drivers make per mile?

The United States Bureau of Labor and Statistics have published a report that indicates that the average truck driver pay per mile ranges from 0.28 US Dollars to 0.40 US Dollars.

Average Truck Drivers Salary per Mile

Truck Drivers Experience LevelsPayment (per mile)
CDL driver 0.40 to 0.45 US Dollars avg.
Over the Road (OTR CDL)Working with this certification could get you 1.35 to $2.00 a mile.
Team Truck DriversIndividual driver could make up to 0.70 US Dollars per mile.
Rookie Truck Drivers0.27 to 0.29 US Dollars.

Pay Per Mile Scheme – Is it beneficial?

The Pay Per Mile Scheme has a history as long as the trucking industry itself and it wasn’t too long ago some trucking companies began making the transition to hourly payment models and profit percentages to an extent.

It took so long because many companies and truck drivers have benefited for many years from the Pay Per Mile Scheme. The reason for that is not far-fetched.

This model, described in some quarters as “piecework” pay, means that workers receive a fixed price payment upon completion of a pre-determined number of units produced. Units produced, in this context, is synonymous with miles completed.

It makes it fairly simple to monitor how much you should be receiving after making given deliveries. Since payment is mileage dependent, truckers quickly learn to find alternative routes to meet their quotas.

Truck drivers inevitably put more effort into their driving. When they learn of how much other drivers working with their company produce in a given time.

This kind of competition, often spurred by incentives from their employers leads to a dramatic increase in productivity on the part of the drivers who spend more miles trucking, which by extension, improves the company’s productivity.

Having said that, there are plenty of scenarios that drivers eventually find themselves in – situations out of their control – that could lead to not meeting quotas on time.

From weighing and scaling loads, driving in traffic jams, and stopping at border crossings for customs inspections, to loading and unloading, having to standby while trucks are repaired, waiting through DOT scales and inspections, and performing routine circle checks, a lot of time is lost that could otherwise have been spent reaching mileage goals.

Average Truck Driver Pay Per Mile

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Like we said at the outset, the United States Bureau of Labor and Statistics have published a report indicating that the average rate of long haul truck drivers salary per mile ranges from 0.28 US Dollars to 0.40 US Dollars.

There are employers that have a record of paying more than that. Some drivers with many years of experience and expertise (like ice road truckers and team drivers) are paid anywhere from 0.40 US Dollars per mile to as much as 45 cents or 50 cents per mile.

Average Miles a Truck Driver Drives a Day/a Year

How many miles can a truck driver drive in a day? Industry sources reveal that most drivers, due to the 70-hour weekly maximum limit, cover anywhere from two thousand miles to as much as three thousand miles every week (this means the number of miles a trucker drives a year is between 104,000 and 156,000).

When we use the aforementioned rate and a calculator, it is easy to determine the pay per week – it ranges from 800 US Dollars to 1350 US Dollars. That works out to approximately 115 US Dollars for just over 285 miles per day or about 193 dollars for just over 428 miles per day.

The final figure might end up varying slightly once you have worked out the pay per mile because some companies offer incentives or compensation for every mile completed. On the other hand, your pay per mile will ultimately depend on how many miles you are assigned per week – a number that varies from company to company.

It is also dependent on how experienced a particular driver is overall or with a particular route or delivery, sensitivity of material in shipment, or hazards like those encountered by IRT truckers.

Rookies, on the other hand, typically don’t earn so much. These are the drivers that only make between 0.27 US Dollars and 0.29 US Dollars per mile. So, as a beginner, if you get assigned 2500 miles every week, you could make 675 US Dollars weekly which adds up to 35,100 US Dollars yearly, or you could make 725 US Dollars weekly, which adds up to 37,700 US Dollars yearly.

That is not going to be helped much by compensations, which are pretty low for a rookie. Companies like Schneider National, Nabisco, Hot Shot, Walmart, and Swift pay above-average wages. When you have worked for one year or half-a-year in some cases, pay per mile and compensations increase.

That is very much in line with the average salary for all occupations in the US according to the US Bureau of Labor and Statistics, which was $35,540 in 2014. In summary:

  • OTR Driver Average Salary: 0.40 US Dollars per mile.
  • Rookie OTR Driver Salary: 0.28 US Dollars per mile.
  • Experienced OTR Driver Salary: 0.45 US Dollars to 0.50 US Dollars per mile.

How Much Do Owner Operators Make Per Mile?

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No analysis of truck drivers’ salary per mile would be complete without considering that special subset of over-the-road truck driver known as Owner Operators.

Generally speaking, in the trucking business, running your own business puts you on track to earn more than you would working for a company. While Owner Operators do earn more than experienced truckers working for trucking companies, the assumption that the gap in earnings is huge is misleading.

When you hear of reports about owner-operators making about 150,000 US Dollars a year, you have to remember that the amount represents gross revenue.

Once you deduct the cost of maintenance and the inherent costs that accompany operating in the capacity of owner-operator, which is quite similar to the expenses large trucking companies make, you will find that the amount of money that does go in your pocket is not dramatically larger than what you’d make if you had say ten years of experience working for another company.

It costs around 180,000 US Dollars yearly to maintain a truck for commercial purposes. Industry sources peg operating costs at 1.38 US Dollars per mile and when you factor in stuff like permits, fuel taxes, tire insurance, tolls, and gas you will find that so much is spent just keeping the truck on the road to make deliveries.

The huge advantages usually come in the form of long-distance deliveries or seasonal deliveries like Ice Road Truckers, where the average payment per mile is around $2. Once you have established yourself as a reliable partner on such jobs with particular companies, you could very easily rake in 60,000 to 80,000 US Dollars a year.

If you are an independent owner-operator running 2500 miles a week with the charge per mile at $2, you would be making as much as 5,000 US Dollars per week. That’s what you make for miles driven.

When you deduct the average price of operation per mile you end up making only 1,550 US dollars per week. Bear in mind, that there are other attendant costs for owner operator trucking.

In the end, despite owner operator mileage rates being higher than those of regular ORT drivers, less than 1,550 goes into your pocket per week. It takes a lot of patience and hard work to last long enough in the multibillion-dollar trucking industry to land a job that pays so much.

Related Article: First Year Truck Driver Salary