Truck drivers made up almost 3.2 million of the employed population in 2010, making the job one of the most popular in America, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Long-distance truck drivers – also known as long haul truck drivers, over-the-road truck drivers or simply “truckers” – drive heavy trucks great distances to deliver a wide variety of goods to retailers and other companies across the nation and in Canada and Mexico.
Data compiled by the BLS in 2010 estimated the mean annual salary of heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers – the type of rig operators who drive long distances – at $39,450. Specifically, general freight truckers earned a mean annual salary of $41,100 while specialized freight truckers made $38,690. Long-haul truckers in the business of transporting groceries and related products made a mean annual salary of $43,530, according to the same data.
According to reports from the BLS, the mean hourly wage of heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers was $18.97 in 2010. The same data indicated that general freight truckers earned a mean hourly wage of $19.76 while specialized freight truckers made a mean wage of $18.60 per hour. Truckers shipping grocery and related products had the most lucrative hourly wage, earning a mean of $20.93, according to the BLS.
Location exerts substantial influence on the salary of a long-distance truck driver. For instance, the 2010 BLS report indicates mean yearly earnings of $33,670 for truckers in West Virginia while truckers in Alaska made up to $53,170. The product being hauled also affects the salary of a trucker; according to the BLS, the mean annual salaries for long-haul drivers ranged from $36,110 for those transporting cement and concrete products up to $50,920 for those transporting household appliances. The BLS reported the hourly wage for the bottom 10th percentile at $11.89 while the top 10th percentile earned $27.94.
Payment System and Benefits
Long-distance truck drivers generally earn by-the-mile pay. Heavy rig operators can earn bonuses for time efficiency. Employers pay rental fees to drivers who also own their trucks. Drivers working for a single company commonly receive benefits such as medical, vision and dental coverage, life insurance, worker's compensation, vacation pay and retirement plans.