Employment Outlook for Truck Drivers

Plenty of jobs in long-haul, local and driver sales

Students in driver-training courses who hope to enter the transportation and trucking industry are likely to find good career opportunities waiting for them. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs will be plentiful in the next decade due to high turnover and retirement as well as population and economic growth.

Trucking and transportation is one of the first areas affected during economic downturns. They can be particularly hard times for owner-operators (drivers responsible for their own rigs).

Where truck drivers will find jobs

More jobs will be available with long-distance or full truckload carriers as opposed to local or less-than-truckload carriers (LTL), but LTL jobs are often preferable. Trucking and warehouse companies with less than 20 employees are where almost 90 percent of truck transportation drivers have historically been employed.

Truck drivers

Local truck drivers are often paid hourly, while long-distance drivers are more often paid a per-mile rate, which can vary by employer or type of cargo. Other long distance drivers may receive a percentage of revenue from the loads they carry. In general, drivers of larger trucks who travel further will receive better compensation.

Heavy truck and tractor-trailer driver wages

  • Median hourly earnings - $16.11
  • Middle 50 percent - $12.67 to $20.09
  • Top 10 percent - over $24.07
  • Bottom 10 percent - under $10.18

Heavy truck and tractor-trailer driver wages by industry

  • General freight trucking - $17.56
  • Grocery and related product wholesalers - $17.32
  • Specialized freight trucking - $15.61
  • Employment services - $14.82
  • Cement and concrete product manufacturing - $14.47

Light or delivery services truck driver wages

  • Median hourly earnings - $11.80
  • Middle 50 percent - $8.96 to $16.00
  • Top 10 percent - over $20.83
  • Bottom 10 percent - under $7.20

Light or delivery services truck driver wages by industry

  • Couriers - $17.94
  • General freight trucking - $14.79
  • Grocery, other product wholesalers - $12.44
  • Building material and supplies dealers - $10.85
  • Automotive parts, accessory stores - $8.07

Drivers/sales workers wages (including any commission earned)

  • Median hourly earnings - $9.66
  • Middle 50 percent - $6.94 to $14.59
  • Top 10 percent - over $19.81
  • Bottom 10 percent - under $5.96

Drivers/sales workers wages by industry

  • Dry-cleaning and laundry - $14.67
  • Direct selling establishments - $13.55
  • Grocery, other product wholesalers - $12.36
  • Limited-service eateries - $6.77
  • Full-service restaurants - $6.59

Statistics courtesy the Bureau of Labor Statistics 2004