Well, it really depends.
Although there’s no simple answer, I’ll explain what factors go into your salary and even ways to make more money at the end.
Long distance tractor-trailer drivers can typically make between $70,000 to $75,000 annually across Canada, depending on how much time he or she spends on the road that year. Drivers that specialize in local pickups and deliveries, which allows them to sleep in their own beds at night, would normally earn closer to $40,000 per year whereas long haul truckers in Alberta (where they’re facing a labour shortage) are earning upwards of $100,000 each year. For new truck drivers, the salary can range from $45,000 to $55,000/year.
So yes, it really depends.
The three major factors that affect your earning potential are: where you’re located, how big your truck is, and how far you travel but first – you have to understand that if the wheels aren’t turning, you aren’t earning.
Time is Money
How much you make as a semi-truck driver depends on how far you can travel in the time you have, each day. Almost like being paid on commission, where kilometres are your product, the more kilometres you can put under your belt – the more you get paid. This can be a big change for those coming from hourly jobs where you know you’re putting in 8 hours a day with three breaks during the day. This is not the case in trucking.
Building Your Skills
Like anything else, trucking is a skill you need to build over time and with experience, you’ll become more efficient. In your second year and beyond, you’ll make more money as a truck driver simply for covering more ground and because you’re getting better at your job: planning, managing your time, loading, and unloading etc.
Orientation and Training
Once you have graduated from truck driving school and found your first job, you will go through Orientation with your new company. During Orientation, you will be paid on an hourly basis, usually in the range from $12.50 to $17/hr during this in-class period. Once you have completed Orientation, you will then be put into an in-house training program even though you just went to truck driving school, as most reputable trucking companies will require you to complete their own training. You can expect to earn a little more at this stage – between $13.50 and $18/hr. This training period can last between 8-10 weeks and how much you make depends on the company you’re with and the type of driving you do.
How You Get Paid as a Truck Driver
There are essentially two ways you get paid as a long haul truck driver – per mile and an hourly wage for the times you’re “sitting still.” You make the real money when you’re actually driving (between $0.25 and $0.49 per mile driven) and anywhere from minimum wage all the way up to $18/hr to perform non-driving duties such as pickups, drop-offs and waiting at the border for customs to clear, depending on the company you work for.
How to Earn More Money as a Truck Driver
In addition to your regular earnings, you can make more money through Signing Bonuses, Safe Driving Bonuses and Efficiency Bonuses.
Your services are in high demand and some companies are willing to pay more for good drivers and offer Signing Bonuses. Although they’re not always advertised, it never hurts to ask and negotiate.
Safety is #1 in the trucking industry and many companies are willing to offer Safe Driving Bonuses to drivers who keep a clean record.
#2 in the trucking industry is efficiency and with the potential to save millions in fuel costs based on driving safely and economically, some companies are offering Efficiency Bonuses to those drivers who are consistent and conservative in their driving.
Hopefully, this salary guide for truck drivers answers your questions about how much truck drivers can make with ways to increase your earnings as well. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to comment below.