How Truck Drivers Get Paid in the Trucking Industry?

Truck drivers get paid mainly in three ways, by the mile, by the hour, or by salary or percentage. Although the pay formats may be general each carrier has their own combination and twists as to how they pay their truck drivers. Understanding how drivers get paid as a new driver will help you determine the best carrier for you.

By the Mile

The trucking industry is one of the few industries with a unique pay scale that is performance based. Performance based pay means you are paid for the driving that you do, so the more miles you drive the more money you make. We call this “paid by the mile” and has been a staple in our industry since it began. While drivers make good money it does encourage drivers to push themselves more than they should. With this pay system you don’t get paid unless driving with the exception of deliveries or other specialized work functions such as waiting for a load. A majority of the carriers pay in this way but there is a change going on in the industry to pay drivers for all their time on the road. This system was put in place due to the fact that drivers travel long distances with little way to track what they are doing. An example; a truck driver drives 1000 miles at a rate of 50 cents per mile. They will make $500 to drive that distance.

By the Hour

Payment by the hour is very popular in the trucking industry and used mostly for local drivers that travel within a certain area or travel small distances. Many carriers are even adopting this for long haul drivers as the industry tries to pay drivers for all their time on the road. The more you make per hour plus the hours you work give you the total for your work week. Example; 8 hours worked at $25.00 per hour = $200.00

By Salary or Percentage

Some companies are beginning to pay their drivers by salary. Salary means you will receive the same amount of pay each week no matter how many hours you work. Percentage is a similar system for those that own their own truck and is a lump sum based on the load they haul. Example; you may be paid $1200.00 per week for a 60 hour work week whether you work 60 hours or not.

Payment in trucking depends on the carrier your work for and the type of work you do

Extra Duties

Some types of work in the trucking industry require additional tasks for the driver to handle and may be paid above the per mile rate. For instance a driver that hauls cars to dealerships may get paid for each mile they drive and also get a certain amount for each car they load as they have to be loaded and secured in a certain manner. A flatbed driver may get an additional amount for securing the load, we call it a tarping fee. Some carriers pay additional money for each delivery and pick up a driver makes or for each load crossing international borders. Many of these items are company or freight specific so be sure to ask these questions in the job interview. Example; you get paid 40 cents per mile for driving and $25.00 for each delivery made.

What to Look Out For in Payment

The industry has a problem with some companies in the industry known as “Driver Inc” which is where an employee is asked to incorporate themselves to look as though they are a business owner. This tactic unless you are a legitimate owner operator is illegal and some companies are using this technique to avoid paying their required taxes. If you are asked to work like this then be very careful as this will get you in trouble with various government institutions. On the outside it looks like a driver will make more money but it is just because they aren’t paying the taxes as they should.

Which pay style should you choose?

The pay style or format will choose you based on the company you work for as a truck driver. If you want to drive long distance then you will most likely be paid by the mile. If you want to work local you will probably be paid by the hour or salary. Don’t worry about the payment as much as about the type of work you like to do. Did you know that the trucking industry does not discriminate the pay scale by gender for those that drive? Hopefully this helps you decide how you get paid in the trucking industry.

About the Author

The Truck Training Schools Association of Ontario (TTSAO) is an association of certified truck driver training schools, insurance providers, and carriers located within Ontario Canada. Learn more about them at

Bruce Outridge is a veteran in the transportation industry with over 40 years of experience in the industry in a variety of roles from driver to fleet supervisor and more. Today he is a media entrepreneur in the industry producing a number of programs within the trucking industry. You can learn more about Bruce, his work, and his trucking podcast at

Disclaimer: This article is written and based on the opinion of the author and is for general information only


Membership in the Truck Training Schools Association of Ontario can be of great benefit to you, whether you provide commercial driver training, employ drivers, or are in some other segment of the transportation industry. Join our association today to become part of this team of professionals whose goal is to improve and unify truck driver training standards, resulting in highly skilled, better prepared, entry-level and re-certified commercial drivers.

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