According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, around 1.8 million tractor-trailer truck drivers currently residing within the United States earned, on average, about $44,500 nationwide in 2017.
This reveals the actual reality of how briskly the transportation industry is moving and how much it's proliferating. All this makes the trucking industry an excellent place to penetrate, provided you’re not sure what career to choose, or you’ve left one to pursue another.
With such great prospects, even for entry-level workers, you’ll surely find something that’s not only secure but also financially rewarding.
How to Become an Entry-Level Truck Driver
Becoming an entry-level truck driver requires you to go through a series of steps, from choosing a reputable driving school to meeting the requirements. We’ve penned down the whole process for your ease.
Review the Requirements
Once you’ve decided to pursue the transportation industry for your career, you need to evaluate the federal/state requirements and the essential company qualifications. You need to be on the same page as the company, as well as the other requirements, so you fit well as a candidate.
In order to drive a CMV (Commercial Motor Vehicle), you must hold a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). Get your certification from the Department of Motor Vehicles for your particular state.
Search For a Reputable Driving School
Now that you have the requirements down, the next step is to find a rock-solid company to train for your new career. Search for one that’s well-reputed and professional. The school will prepare you on the matter of CDL knowledge and skills, so it’s essential to make a sound decision in this aspect.
Enrolling in a truck driving school will require you to pay some tuition fees. One of the things we like about driving schools is that they give you a list of options to choose from, depending upon your financial circumstances.
You can choose plans like tuition reimbursement, up-front paid training, aid, and grant funding, etc. Go through each company’s website to see what they offer.
Score a Job
We would like to mention that acquiring a CDL alone is not enough because certification does not guarantee employability. You need to have some level of experience, so you’re a reliable candidate in the eyes of your potential employer. That is why it’s crucial to join a driving school where the company not only provides you with on-the-job training but also pays you simultaneously. But after that, a CDL is your key to landing a huge variety of driving jobs.
Companies select large amounts of candidates from CDL truck driving schools, certified schools, or community colleges. But, if you fall under none of the mentioned categories, some companies offer CDL programs where you get paid while you earn your CDL.
Review of the Best Trucking Companies For New Drivers
Chosen based on the salary they provide, the amenities and benefits they supply, and the work environment they maintain, here's a list of some of the best trucking companies for if you’re an entry-level driver just getting started.
1. Heartland Express
- Address: 901 N Kansas Ave, North Liberty, IA 52317
- Website: https://www.heartlandexpress.com/#drive-for-us-1
- Phone Number: 888-919-1812
Who is Heartland Express?
Heartland Express is a transportation and logistics services company. Founder and leader Russ Gurdin bought Scott’s Transportation and redesigned it to Heartland Express in 1978. That’s where the evolution of this enterprise into one of the top leading companies was set into motion.
Today, this firm is a renowned trucking business, serving the small-medium haul truckload market in the US. Since the company has a well-known reputation of being one of the few companies across the country to deliver dependable and quality services, it has the leverage to charge premium prices. This gives them the needed competitive advantage in a highly saturated market.
The job positions offered by the company include CDL Class-A driver categorized on the basis of routes as well as a non-CDL hostler.
Heartland Express provides excellent work-life balance, compensations and benefits, job security, and empowering management. Employees seem very satisfied with the overall organizational culture. Everyone is friendly and welcoming.
Salary and Benefits
- A truck driver earns about $49,519 per year
- An OTR driver’s pay calculates to about $54,067 per year
- Company truck drivers earn around $61,202 per year
- Class-A truck drivers earn about $53,426 per year
In addition to the salary, Heartland provides a lot of perks and benefits to its workers. Some of these include health insurance, which further includes life, dental, and vision insurance, 401k plans in their retirement policy, and paid vacations.
Employees also receive the necessary time-off and flexibility to suit their demands. The drivers return home weekly, which is unusual in the industry where it can take them up to six weeks to get back to their family. They’re compensated for the empty miles. Lastly, the company offers college scholarships to employee’s children based on their length of service within the company.
Entry-level drivers can really enjoy their first job as a worker in this company because it provides excellent salaries and benefits right off the bat. The firm boasts high employee retention, which means that long-term employees are delighted with their current positions and the utilities they receive.
2. US Express
- Address: 4080 Jenkins Rd, Chattanooga, TN 37421
- Website: https://www.usxpress.com/
- Phone Number: 866-646-5886
Who is US Express?
Founded by Max Fuller and Patrick Quinn in 1986, the company started its humble beginnings from just a small fleet of 48 trucks. Now, with its commitment to customer satisfaction and innovation, the firm enjoys the title of being the nation’s fifth-largest asset-based truckload carrier by revenue.
The parent company goes by the name US Xpress Enterprises with tractor brands like SRT, Stevens, Maverick, Jb Hunt, and many more. The fleet has now grown to about 7,000 tractors and 15,500 trailers. This expansion is the result of delivering a comprehensive and diverse selection of transportation solutions like intermodal COFC, logistics, temperature-controlled, and international services. Their 30 years of leadership in this industry sets them a class apart.
The jobs catalog encompasses Class-A team drivers, CDL-A team drivers, commercial team truck drivers, truck drivers, CDL-A drivers, trailer technicians, utility workers, diesel mechanic, and transportation supervisor. Other jobs also include fleet technician, shop supervisor, service advisor, brokerage consumer sales executive, roadside assistance call agent, account specialist, service coordinator, etc.
Employees enjoy the work atmosphere at this company and are big fans of their training programs. Overall, it’s a positive place to work, offering good miles and a steady paycheck.
Salary and Benefits
- The salary of a truck driver is around $49,796 per year
- An OTR truck driver earns about $2,774 per month
- Experienced truck drivers earn approximately $51,601-$53,280 per year
- OTR team drivers earn $51,832 per year
The benefits US Express supplies to its drivers comprise Insurance, financial & retirement, family, perks & discounts, and professional support.
Insurance includes health, dental, life, vision, disability, health care on-site, supplemental life insurance, mental health care, occupational accident insurance and accidental death, and dismemberment insurance.
Under financials and retirement, the company issues performance bonuses, 401k plan, and supplemental workers' compensation.
On the matter of family, employees can enjoy family medical leaves, military leaves, and unpaid extended leaves.
The company supplies ample vacation plans and time-offs by providing paid vacations, sick days, volunteer time-offs, and bereavement leave.
Perks and discounts constitute employee discounts, mobile phone discounts, company social events, legal assistance, and a pet-friendly workplace.
Lastly, for professional support, workers get tuition assistance and job training.
A comprehensive list of benefits on top of an attractive salary package and a positive work environment makes this company an ideal place to work, for both people who just started their career and long-term employees.
- Website: https://schneider.com/
- Phone Number: 800-558-6767
Who is Schneider?
Viewing the market gap and an intense need for shipping companies and truckload services, father and son, Al and Don Schneider inaugurated Schneider Transportation. Building on what the two owners believed to be the most imperative factors for any organization, i.e., safety, integrity, respect, and excellence, the company kept on expanding its routes and capacity.
This evolution has eventually led the firm into an abyss of freight amenities. This is why it now offers an extensive catalog of utilities, including regional trucking, intermodal, long-haul, brokerage, bulk, supply chain management, warehousing, transloading cross-border, and port logistics.
Driving jobs offered by Schneider include Class-A CDL dedicated team driver, Class-A CDL over-the-road truck driver, Class-A CDL regional truck driver, owner-operator team truck driver, and Class-A CDL over-the-road part-time team truck driver. They also include Class-A CDL dedicated tanker truck driver, regional tanker truck driver, CDL-A regional intermodal truck driver, CDL-A flatbed truck driver, CDL-A utility truck driver, CDL-A night truck driver, and CDL-A local intermodal truck driver.
Other jobs may constitute a transportation representative, operations system administrator, support shift brokerage specialist, customer service representative, diesel technician, sales account representative, inventory clerk, sales assistant, tractor technician, etc.
Employees report their experience by saying that the company is honest, family-oriented, and helps you succeed in your overall trucking career. Their way of operating is excellent.
Salary and Benefits
- A truck driver receives a salary of $51,208 per year
- An OTR truck driver earns about $2,774 per month
- A class-A truck driver makes well above $48,610 per year
- OTR truck drivers make around $39,973 per year
- Company drivers can earn up to $47,339 per year
Talking about the benefits, Schneider offers health, dental, vision, life, disability, accidental death, and dismemberment insurance. It also provides flexible spending accounts and health savings reports. Retirement plans and performance bonuses are covered as well. Family medical, maternity, and paternity leaves are always accounted for.
Paid holidays, vacations, sick days, and bereavement leaves are ensured to provide ample relaxation and avoid work-related stress. Perks and discounts are guaranteed, and tuition assistance and job training are allotted.
With a vast array of driving positions, this company offers something for everyone. Hence, even if you’re an entry-level driver and can’t find the right position for you, chances are you’ll fit right into at least one of the mentioned spots.
Even as a beginner, you’ll have access to all the benefits and perks discussed earlier. Their commitment to helping you strengthen your career in the field as a part of their professional support scheme makes long-term employees loyal to this company.
4. Roehl Transport
- Address: 1916 E. 29th Street, Marshfield, WI 54449
- Website: https://www.roehl.jobs/
- Phone Number: 715-591-3795
- Email: Roehl.Drivers@Roehl.net
Who is Roehl Transport?
Roehl Transport was started in 1962 by Everette Roehl with a single truck. The company now provides a diverse portfolio of solutions to its customers encompassing flatbed, dry-van, curtain side, reefer, and step-deck transportation. It also showcases a mixture of freight involving dedicated, local, and regional, OTR, LTL, and TL operations.
The company has now become one of the largest and top 100 trucking companies in the US. Their massive success in the logistical industry has enabled them to earn distinctions like the safest trucking company and best-managed company. Their success also carved their way out to be recognized as a military-friendly employer.
Roehl transport values its drivers and proposes job offers to its potential employees, including numerous CDL-A truck driver jobs, warehouse workers, on-the-job paid CDL truck driver, regional sales manager, trailer technician, tire technician, driver employment specialist, tarp repair technician, etc.
Employees are generally satisfied with the work environment, owing to the laid-back work culture and the welcoming and friendly peers. Drivers especially like the fact that the management values them and shows it as well. Flexible hours allow them to have a healthy balance between home and work life.
Salary and Benefits
- A truck driver’s average salary is about $61,717 per year
- Someone working in the company as a company driver will roughly earn around $33,060 per year
- A local driver earns about $54,613 per year
- An owner-operator might approximately earn approximately $56,452 per year
The benefits cover different types of insurance like health, dental, long-term disability, primary and supplemental, etc. Employees can further benefit from flexible spending accounts for individual out-of-pocket medical costs. Short-term income protection plans and long-term disability plans come as a deal, and you pay the premium as if they were one.
They also offer worker’s compensation insurance and voluntary insurance benefits. Paid vacations are provided to all employees. Lastly, 401k plans and profit-sharing are always assigned.
The company proffers specific jobs for both inexperienced and experienced drivers. As a result, you can quickly start off as an entry-level driver here. Enrolling in their training programs as a part of their benefits will enable you to elevate your salary levels as you gain more experience and professionalism. Employees who have been with the company for a long time enjoy benefits well above the market, and hence, there’s no inclination to leave the company.
5. Swift Transportation Company
- Address: 2200 S. 75th Ave. Phoenix, AZ 85043
- Website: https://www.swifttrans.com/
- Phone Number: 1-800-800-2200
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Who is Swift Transportation?
With over 22,000 skilled drivers operating over 14,000 trucks, Swift Transportation has made their way into one of the top trucking companies in the US. Initially started as a small trucking company in the 50s by his parents, Jerry Moyes made the company what it is today. After his father's passing, Jerry bought out his other two partners, Ronald Moyes and Randy Knight, becoming the sole owner.
Swift Transportation united with Knight Transportation in 2017 to establish Knight-Swift Transportation Holdings Inc. Swift has now spread beyond North America to Mexico and owns 100% of a Mexican carrier, Trans-Mex.
Career paths here can be categorized under three headings: driver, mechanic, and office. The driver positions may range from the driver, truck driver, owner-operator driver to company driver. Mechanics encompass titles such as fleet mechanic, diesel mechanic, trailer mechanic, and also technicians.
Lastly, office roles may include driver manager and sales representative while also encompassing administrative and logistic support roles such as office coordinator, service writer, operations assistance and dispatcher, load planner, and transportation coordinator.
Employees are incredibly pleased with the company because it encourages career development and upward mobility within the company. The pay, management, and home time are all pros in the eyes of drivers.
Salary and Benefits
- An average salary of a truck driver may be around $42,336 per year
- Company driver has a reported salary of $38,236 per year
- Average driver earns approximately $46,424 per year
- An owner-operator driver may earn around an average of $64,750 per year
Swift Transportation provides ample flexibility at work, such as work from home and flexible schedules. Other reported benefits that Swift employees receive may include insurance that is covered by the company such as health, life, dental, vision, and disability insurance.
Performance bonuses, paid time off, Referral program, weekly bonus, yearly bonus signing bonus and tuition reimbursement are also provided. The company offers an employee assistance program, employee stock purchase program, and fully-paid college tuition program. Their retirement plan has both a profit-sharing feature and includes a 401k feature.
Swift Transportation is the right place for entry-level workers who are looking to experience how rigorous the trucking career is. It offers pay according to experience, so the pay will increase as knowledge does. More exposure and maturity will also bring significant benefits.
6. C.R. England
- Address: 4701 W 2100 S, Salt Lake City, UT 84120
- Website: https://www.crengland.com/
- Phone Number: 801-974-3318
Who is C.R. England?
Customer demands keep fluctuating by the second, and it’s how the companies adapt and seek new solutions for them, which distinguish the firm as a hallmark corporation in the industry. C.R. England is one such corporation, a dependable refrigerated carrier, delivering top-class transportation services.
Started in 1920 by Chester Rodney England, the company has since been keeping a close eye on the needs of the evolving consumer base. This is how it can foster innovation accordingly. Ever since its initiation, this family-owned business has been run by four generations.
The list of jobs offered by C.R. England includes CDL-A drivers for different geographical locations, local CDL-A instructors, local CDL-A drivers, logistics engineer, after-hours account supervisor, after-hours shuttle driver, truck wash bay technician and retailer, reefer technician, shop supervisor, logistics coordinator, trailer technician, etc.
According to employees, C.R. England offers impressive benefits, a competitive salary, and well-informed instructors. The staff is friendly, courteous, and helpful. It’s a great company to get yourself some first-hand experience in the field.
Salary and Benefits
- OTR truck drivers earn approximately $51,371 per year
- Local truck drivers make $54,735 per year
Moving on to the perks and benefits, C.R. England provides all the necessary insurances like health, dental, vision, etc. Moreover, they offer a range of retirement plans. Their 401k is the most popular. Charitable gift matching, employee stock purchase plan, and stock options are granted as part of their financial plans.
Work from home and family medical leave is offered to cater to the necessary obligations of most employees. Ample paid vacations and time-offs are given. Lastly, perks and discounts include company social events, mobile phone discounts, and pet-friendly workplace.
The competitive salary packages are quite attractive for entry-level workers, and rightfully so. As you stretch your length of service within the company, you’ll undergo professional development and hence, better job prospects.
7. Werner Enterprises
- Address:14507 Frontier Road, Omaha NE 68138
- Website: https://www.werner.com/
- Phone Number: 800-228-2240 and 402-895-6640
Who is Werner Enterprises?
Clarence L. (CL) Werner inaugurated the business in 1956 from a single gasoline-powered Ford truck. Today, the company enjoys the prestige of being one of the fifth-greatest truckload haulers. This company exemplifies the true essence of a logistic carrier, delivering remarkable transportation and logistics services to companies worldwide.
The comprehensive portfolio it presents to its customers includes solutions like one-way truckload, global services, intermodal, expedited, final mile, temperature-controlled, logistics, cross-border, and custom solutions. Garnering support from consumers across the globe, the company now operates throughout the US, China, Canada, and Mexico.
The listicle of job placements at Werner Enterprises includes Class-A CDL truck drivers, CDL-A dedicated company drivers, and truck drivers hired on weekly wages.
Other positions offered at the company comprise of transportation specialist, shipper sales representative, safety specialist, dedicated logistic executive, tractor mechanic, tractor technician, and asset van driver. Opportunities for a sales representative, trailer body mechanic, intermodal operations trainee, terminal assistant, driver support agent, van driver/custodian, accounts receivable analyst, payroll and audit specialist, etc. are also present.
Employees emphasize the strong leadership at Werner Enterprises when reviewing. They believe that this feature makes it a top competitor in the industry. The vast range of operations creates a myriad of work opportunities for both existing and potential employees. The caring work environment is also a plus.
Salary and Benefits
- Class-A truck drivers make $47,970
- Truck drivers earn $44,812
- OTR truck drivers earn $48,065
- Drivers earn $43,971
When it comes to benefits and perks, insurance plans are offered for all necessary medical aids. Employee stock purchase and 401k plans are offered as a part of their financial and retirement scheme.
Paid holidays, vacations and sick leaves are issued on a timely basis to maintain employee satisfaction. The discounts that workers can avail of due to their position in the company include employee assistance programs and gym membership. Last but not least, drivers can take advantage of tuition assistance and job training to relieve themselves of further expenses.
As mentioned earlier, the strong leadership within this company is a hallmark factor. Likewise, employees can benefit from the company perks for the development of their career as well as their personalities. Werner owns a significant market share in the trucking industry, and due to the numerous benefits it offers, long-term employees have significant job security and financial leverage.
Job Outlook and Salary For Truck Drivers
Being a truck driver, you must possess excellent driving skills and consider the time-sensitivity of this profession. If you qualify for these prerequisites, you can make quite a career out of your truck driving profession.
As the demand for goods continues to escalate at a rapid pace, additional trucks and hence, new drivers will be needed to regulate the supply chains. According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment opportunities for heavy and tractor-trailer drivers are expected to flourish and grow about 5% from now till 2028. As a result, the job prospects for this profession are up-and-coming.
In addition to a few other factors, experience level is a chief deciding element while calculating a truck driver’s annual pay. Let’s classify these into three broad categories and see how much each bracket makes.
- Entry-Level: Around $40,000 per year
- Mid-Level: Approximately $55,000 to $60,000
- Master-Level: About $65,000 to $75,000
States With the Highest Average Truck Driver Salaries for New Drivers
Geographical location has a profound impact on the salary, which is why there’s a vast difference in pay rates between both states and even companies within the same states.
Companies usually pay their drivers based on the miles they’ve covered instead of the hours they’ve worked. Hence, how much an individual has traveled becomes an important factor while calculating his pay in addition to other considerations like experience level, location, and employer.
In regards to all of what’s previously mentioned, here are the top states paying the highest average salaries to their drivers.
- Nevada: $50,920
- Mississippi: $41,900
- Kentucky: $45,550
- Utah: $45,600
- South Carolina: $44,270
In this day and age, being a truck driver exposes you to countless advantages and assistance. You achieve both job and social security. There’s a numerous list of perks that you can enjoy, and on top of it all, the salary packages are enough for a sustainable livelihood.
In the end, when you retire, you’ll receive a considerable amount of retirement grant, depending on the company you work for. Hence, you’re compensated for all aspects. So, we recommend our readers to jump into this field if they have the interest but lack faith. It’s an excellent employment opportunity!
People Also Ask
Here is a question-and-answer guide on a few topics related to the overarching subject.
Do Trucking Companies Give You a Truck to Drive?
Yes, trucking companies do provide you with the necessary equipment and vehicles to get you moving on the road. You don’t need to worry about that. A good company will provide you with a high-quality motor vehicle with additional perks and utilities to offer an overall comfortable experience while you work.
Will a Trucking Company Pay You to Get Your CDL?
If you’re someone who hasn’t attended a certified school, CDL driving school, or a community college, you can enroll in a program offered by a few companies where they pay you while you obtain your CDL.
How Much Do Beginner Truck Drivers Make?
First-year dry van drivers can make up to $40,000 as they get into the whole truck driving profession.
How Long Do You Have to Train to Be a Truck Driver?
A training certificate indicating that you have trained for at least 160 hours is acceptable for employers. Focus on getting the mentioned number of hours before you opt for a job out in the market. You can even opt for a company providing training programs of their own so you can get paid while you train and then hop on the road once you're ready.
Can You Drive Locally as a Truck Driver?
Yes, you can choose to be a local driver who works for specific companies following a consistent route. You generally remain within a radius of 250 miles from your home terminal in such cases.