Almost a million and a half heavy truck drivers tracked loads from one corner of the country to the other. Per a study published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in May 2010, the 1,466,740 drivers earned median salaries of $37,770. Drivers earning at the highest 90th percentile received $57,480, while the lowest-paid drivers trucked in $24,730.
To a non-professional, being at the helm of a vehicle full of a couple of kids and a few bags of groceries could feel like a heavy load, but to heavy truck and tractor-trailer drivers, minimum weight required to be considered high capacity is 26,000 pounds. After completing the requirements to earn their commercial drivers' licenses, heavy truck drivers hit the road in search of salaries, but may find that as the miles stretch, so does the range for their incomes.
Driving the Country
Heavy truck operators in Alaska earned the highest salaries in the country at the time of the BLS wage survey, with annual mean wages of $48,250. In second place were drivers in Nevada, where employers paid $46,470. The East Coast made up the rest of the BLS top five highest-paying states in the country. New Jersey placed third, with driver salaries of $43,860. Massachusetts and New York were close behind, at $43,670 and $43,380 respectively.
Thinking Outside the Truck
Although the BLS' top two largest employers of heavy truck drivers paid salaries above the average for the profession, neither rated in the BLS list of the top five. The general freight trucking industry, the largest employer, paid $41,100, while the specialized freight trucking industry, the second largest employer, paid $38,690. It was the U.S. Postal Service that paid truck drivers the highest salaries, with annual mean wages of $54,040. Heavy truck drivers employed by couriers and express delivery services earned $53,900 while those working in the spectator sports industry earned an above-average $51,530.
The BLS rated Texas as the state with the largest per-capita employment of heavy truck drivers. Texas' annual mean wages for the profession fell just below the national median, at $37,150. California, second on the largest per-capita employment list, paid an above-average $41,660. Truck drivers in Pennsylvania, the third-largest employer in the profession, also earned above-average salaries of $41,360. Although Florida placed fourth in number of drivers per capita, its wages of $36,070 were below average.