Types of Trucker Pay

Trucking can be a rewarding career path and drivers can make more than $69,000 a year.* Determining how much you can earn as a trucker can be confusing at first because the pay structure is typically different for over-the-road drivers compared to other workers. Beyond the base pay, there are also additional types of trucker pay and it’s helpful to understand what these are and when they might apply.

Some types of pay for truck drivers include:

Base Pay

Most of what you earn as a trucker will be from your base pay. This is the standard pay you receive for driving. The way your company calculates base pay will vary depending on the type of driving you do.

Your base pay may be:

Pay Per Mile

This is the most common type of pay for over-the-road (OTR) truck drivers and many regional drivers as well. As the name implies, this type of base pay compensates you based on the number of miles that you haul goods and materials. The company will express this rate as cents per mile (CPM).

There are a few different ways to calculate mileage, so it’s important to know which your company uses.

These are:

  • Practical Mileage – one of the most common and is based on the number of miles in the most efficient route from the starting point to the destination.
  • Household Goods (HHG) – measures from zip code to zip code
  • Hub Mileage – includes every mile a truck drivers


Local drivers and regional drivers with short routes may have hourly rates instead of being paid per mile. This type of base pay becomes more practical if the driver performs non-driving tasks (such as loading and unloading or interacting with customers) for long periods of time on a regular basis. It is very rare for OTR drivers to be paid hourly.


Truck drivers with a salary earn a consistent amount on a weekly or biweekly basis. These are similar to hourly trucking jobs in that they are more common for local or regional driving compared to OTR.

Pay Per Load

This is one of the rarer types of base pay in the trucking industry, although companies may offer it under some circumstances. You are more likely to see pay per load for specialized trucking jobs or as pay for owner-operators. This may be a flat rate or a percentage of the profit the company makes for the load. The second is less common.

Additional Trucker Pay

Motor carriers may compensate truck drivers beyond base pay depending on the situation.

Some additional types of pay that may apply include:

Per Diem

A per diem is a daily allowance and helps cover daily expenses a driver may have on the road, such as meals. Many motor carriers will add a per diem into their CPM rate. One thing to note is that per diem pay is non-taxable. As a result, it’s important to know what portion, if any, of your pay per mile is considered per diem.

Detention, Layover, and Breakdown Pay

In trucking, things don’t always go as planned. Compensating drivers in these situations can help reduce their stress when they are not able to travel as many miles as expected due to delays outside of their control.

Motor carriers may offer pay for:

  • Detentions – a trucker is stuck at the receiver and has to wait to drop off their load
  • Layovers –  a driver is waiting to receive a load
  • Breakdowns – an issue with the tractor-trailer that requires the truck driver to stop and wait for repairs

Stop Pay

In many cases, OTR drivers deliver a full truckload to one customer. However, there may be circumstances when a load will include two or more stops. Many motor carriers offer additional stop pay for every drop-off past the first one.

Bonuses and Incentives

Trucking companies often offer incentives to encourage the best performance. Some examples include bonuses for passing Department of Transportation (DOT) inspections, safe driving, and fuel efficiency. Due to the driver shortage, many carriers offer sign-on bonuses as well.

Start A Rewarding Trucking Career

If you are interested in seeing more of the country while earning high pay, you should consider trucking. The first step is earning your commercial driver’s license (CDL) and at Phoenix Truck Driving School, we can help you do this in as little as four weeks. We also offer job placement assistance and many of our students have offers even before graduation.

To learn more about our truck driver training, contact us today.

*Professional truck drivers earn a mean annual wage of $47,130 (https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes533032.htm). The top 10% of truck drivers make more than $69,480 per year according to 2020 Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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