First Year Truck Driver Salary

What is the Best Paying Trucking Company for Rookies?

Starting out in the trucking industry can be frustrating for rookies. What most new truck drivers do not understand is that experience is where the money is. Just like with any other job, entry level positions do pay considerably less. Going through a truck driving school that offers employment placement assistance really is your best bet. Inexperienced tractor trailer drivers are a high risk to companies. There are several reputable companies that do pay very well for first year drivers.

Swift Transportation is the highest paying company for rookie drivers. Not only can new truck drivers get their schooling through Swift, they can go right into employment with the company when the schooling and training are complete. Swift allows student drivers to repay their tuition and schooling costs over a period of 26 months while employed with the company. On average, first year dry van drivers earn $41,110. Team dry van drivers, in their third year can earn roughly $88,710. The pay does gradually increase year by year, based on performance, safety and experience.


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Con-way Freight also hires new CDL license holders. Several types of drivers are accepted with them from expedited freight van drivers to tractor trailer drivers. The salaries do vary depending the position and number of runs taken, but the average van driver can earn $800 – $1,000 per week easily. Con-way Freight does keep strict delivery deadlines that must be met. It is a fast paced environment that requires drivers to be alert, self-starters and dependable.

J.B. Hunt is a reputable trucking company that does hire rookie drivers. The average yearly salary for rookies is $40,000. Of course, bonuses and additional perks are available for their top drivers. J.B. Hunt is a company that has many benefits including no forced dispatch. The fuel surcharges are adjusted weekly based on the price of fuel that week. For owner-operators, parts and other repair materials can be purchased through the company at a discounted price. These are just a few of the benefits of working for this well-paying company.

Which States Pays the Highest Rookie Truck Driving Salary?

Truck driving salaries tend to not follow suit when it comes to the cost of living in an area. It is more about the job being performed and the company you are with. It does seem that the jobs that no one seems to want do pay more, even for rookies. A lot of those jobs are available in the state of New York according to CNN.

West Virginia and Mississippi are also high paying states for rookie drivers according to PayScale.com. Several technical driving positions pop up all year long. These positions require precision driving and dedication. In West Virginia, local or state-wide drivers earn top wages simply due to the terrain within the state.

Important Notes to Keep in Mind as a Rookie Truck Driver

It is important for rookies to understand that they may have to go to a different state for employment if their company of choice does not have a local terminal. This will also get them the highest wages. Some truckers do suggest that you find the company, then work out the terminal details and how to juggle for an out-of-state terminal second.

Rookie drivers are more likely to get hired with a large company such as Swift, Con-way, J.B. Hunt or Werner Enterprises. Schneider Trucking is another large company that has a truck driving school and hires many of their graduates. Although their pay is slightly lower than others, drivers learn invaluable lessons and have top notch training.

The first year as a truck driver is essentially a learning year. Although the schooling is complete, there are things that must be learned only by performing the job. Rookies have to have a lot of patience and must be willing to take constructive criticism in order to be successful in the trucking industry. In this ever-growing industry, safety and dedication go a lot further than a driver that can get the most miles per week. Positions are always available for rookies along with experienced drivers as the truck driving industry always has the demand for drivers.