Commercial Driver's Licensing (CDL)
Preparation & Road Test for CDL Class A
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CDL-A Employment Opportunities
Heavy and Tractor-trailer Truck Drivers
Heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers transport goods from one location to another. They must have a commercial driver’s license (CDL).
- 2020 Median Pay: $47,130
- Typical Entry-Level Education: Postsecondary non-degree award
- Work Experience in a Related Occupation: None
- On-the-job Training: Short-term on-the-job training
- Number of Jobs, 2019: 2,029,900
- Job Outlook, 2019-2029: 2% (Slower than average)
*United States Bureau of Labor Statistics
The economy depends on truck drivers to transport freight and keep supply chains moving. As the demand for goods increases, more truck drivers will be needed. Trucks transport most of the freight in the United States, so, as households and businesses increase their spending, the trucking industry should grow.
Technological advancements should result in trucks that are more fuel efficient and easier to drive. For example, automatic transmissions, blind spot monitoring, braking assistance, and variable cruise control are all recently developed features that may become more standard throughout the trucking industries within the next decade. In addition, technological advances may lead to further developments in platooning, which is a method of transport where several trucks form a line and automatically mimic the speed, braking, and steering behaviors of the lead truck. These technologies can help ease driver burden and create a safer driving environment for all vehicles.
Job prospects for heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers with the proper training and a clean driving record are projected to be very good. Because of truck drivers’ difficult lifestyle and time spent away from home, many companies have trouble finding and retaining qualified long-haul drivers. In addition, many truck drivers are expected to retire in the coming years, creating even more job opportunities.
Median annual wages, May 2020
Heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers: $47,130
Total, all occupations: $41,950
Motor vehicle operators: $40,600
Note: All Occupations includes all occupations in the U.S. Economy.
The median annual wage for heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers was $47,130 in May 2020. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $30,660, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $69,480.
In May 2020, the median annual wages for heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:
Truck Transportation: $48,280
Wholesale Trade: $46,400
Drivers of heavy trucks and tractor-trailers usually are paid by how many miles they have driven, plus bonuses. The per-mile rate varies from employer to employer and may depend on the type of cargo and the experience of the driver. Some long-distance drivers, especially owner–operators, are paid a share of the revenue from shipping.
Most heavy tractor-trailer drivers work full time. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulates the hours that a long-haul truck driver may work. Drivers may not work more than 14 hours straight, comprising up to 11 hours driving and the remaining time doing other work, such as unloading cargo. Between working periods, drivers must have at least 10 hours off duty. Drivers also are limited to driving no more than 60 hours within 7 days or 70 hours within 8 days; then drivers must take 34 hours off before starting another 7- or 8-day run. Drivers must record their hours in a logbook. Truck drivers often work nights, weekends, and holidays.
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Heavy and Tractor-trailer Truck Drivers,