How Much Does a Tractor Trailer Driver Make?

by Roger Thorne J.D. ; Updated July 27, 2017
Tractor-trailer drivers are integral to the economy.

Almost everything you buy or need was probably transported by truck at some point. Tractor-trailer drivers transport all types of goods all across the country. These workers have to ensure timely pickups, drive through inclement weather and tough traffic conditions and may even be responsible for loading or unloading cargo. Tractor-trailer driver salaries in 2009 differed based on numerous factors.

National Averages

The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that there were about 1.6 million tractor trailer drivers in 2009, earning an average salary of about $19 per hour, or about $39,260 per year. The top 10 percent of drivers made about $27 per hour, or about $56,970 per year, while the lowest 10 percent made about $12 per hour, or about $24,640 per year. The middle 50 percent of tractor-trailer drivers made about $18 per hour, or about $37,730 per year.

Highest-Paying Industries

Driver salaries varied according to the industry that employed them, according to the BLS. Drivers employed in the top five highest-paying industries all earned about $25 per hour, or between $51,150 and $53,020 per year. The top five sectors for drivers in 2009 were: the Postal Service; other transportation and equipment manufacturing; newspaper, periodical, book and directory publishers; couriers and express delivery services; and spectator sports.

Highest-Paying States

Tractor-trailer drivers in Alaska, Nevada, New York, the District of Columbia and Connecticut had the highest average salaries by state in 2009. Drivers in Alaska earned an average salary of about $24 per hour, or about $49,480 per year. Those in Nevada earned closer to an average of $22 per hour, or about $45,700 per year. Connecticut drivers, at the low end of the top five, earned an average of about $21 per hour, or about $43,960 per year.

Highest-Paying Metro Areas

Drivers in some metro areas earned higher-than-average salaries when compared to the national average. Tractor-trailer drivers in Fairbanks, Alaska; Grand Rapids, Michigan; Danville, Illinois; Racine, Wisconsin; and San Francisco had the highest average salaries in the county in 2009, according to the BLS. Drivers in Fairbanks earned an average of about $26 per hour, or about $53,710 per year, while drivers in San Francisco earned about $23 per hour, or about $48,850 per year.

About the Author

Roger Thorne is an attorney who began freelance writing in 2003. He has written for publications ranging from "MotorHome" magazine to "Cruising World." Thorne specializes in writing for law firms, Web sites, and professionals. He has a Juris Doctor from the University of Kansas.

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