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How Much Can You Really Make as a CDL Driver?

The short answer: a lot more than you might think.

The long answer:

Becoming a trucker is a long, arduous process that involves lots of testing, hiccups, hard work, and the overcoming of obstacles.

Honestly, if you want an easy job, CDL jobs are probably not for you.

However, if you are willing to do the work, put in the time, and become a CDL driver, you’ll be able to enjoy a lot of incredible benefits.

One of those benefits that everyone likes to talk about is a comfortable salary.

In this article, we’ll get into just how high a CDL driver salary can go, and what you can do to accelerate your progression to the top of the industry.

Part 1: Starting Salary

According to Zip Recruiter, the average annual pay for Class A CDL drivers was $47,255 per year. This comes out to $22.72 per hour or nearly $4k per month.

But what about when you’re just getting started.

The lower end of truckers will earn around $30,000 per year, but the beauty is that there is plenty of room for growth in this industry. As you spend more time behind the wheel, you’ll become more experienced, be able to work more, and you’ll be compensated for your experience and your time in the industry.

Really, the most important thing for a CDL driver who’s new to the industry is to avoid burnout.

Part 2: Move Up the Ladder

One of the best things that have been happening in trucking in the last few years is that truckers are being paid more and more for their services.

Trucking has an incredibly high turnover rate, and part of it is because the starting salary just doesn’t always match the difficulty of the workload that drivers have to do. Especially for a first-year CDL driver.

When you become a CDL driver and land your first CDL job, it’s important that you pay attention to the room for growth that is possible at your company.

Don’t screw yourself by signing up for a job that has no room for growth.

You’re working hard and you deserve to be rewarded for your efforts.

Part 3: How High Can It Get?

Truthfully, the peak of your CDL career depends on what you haul.

For conventional truckers, the peak salary is around $80,000 per year. There are obviously exceptions to this, but compared to the national average of just under &50k, and $80k paycheck sounds pretty incredible.

If you haul luxury cars, you might be able to earn $100k per year. If you drive on ice roads, you’ll be able to make even more than that. The same goes for drivers who haul hazardous material.

You’ll notice a theme here: CDL drivers are compensated for shipping valuable cargo safely. Speed is second when it comes to these pricey materials.

If you want to make money with your CDL license, you can’t just work hard.

In fact, if the industry’s massive turnover rate tells you anything, you actually should focus less on working hard and more on working smart. Work your way up and become really good at driving. Become reliable. From there, the opportunities will start to find you.

If you can safely haul valuable materials, you’ll be one of the best drivers in the industry in no time, and you’ll be paid like it.

Closing Thoughts

As a beginner, finding well-paying CDL jobs can be confusing, difficult, and frustrating. Before you know it, your job search makes you feel like you’re looking for a needle in a haystack.

At Legacy, it’s our goal to make sure that our drivers are compensated well, and that new drivers don’t feel lost when they enter our industry. It’s an incredible time to be a trucker, and it’s only going to get better from here.

To learn more about how to join our team, have a look at our career listings page.

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