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 Top 10 Ways a CDL Driver Can Make More Money

1.       Pay your dues

CDL drivesr many times start at a company that requires them to do the dirty work. That’s right you may be doing OTR (Over the Road) or driving the night shift. Be prepared to start at the bottom but just don’t stay there. Have a plan after you have a year or two under your belt. Make sure you get your miles in. Miles in the industry means experience and experience adds value.

2.       Don’t stay a van driver forever

Companies may require that you start off as a van driver as this is where majority of drivers start. If you stay a van driver don’t expect to make the big bucks. You will need to add more to your resume. Ask your company if you can be moved to a tanker or flatbed truck. These will pay more over time. Companies reward drivers that have the tanker and hazmat endorsements.

3.       Get additional certifications

Drivers with the most certifications get paid the most. You will notice that drivers with experience and multiple endorsements have the most opportunities.  Drivers with the most opportunities will get the highest pay. Make it part of your career road map to get the tanker and hazmat endorsement.

4.       Keep your driving record clean

Companies pay big to ensure you and the truck. Insurance companies charge a premium for bad driving records. As a result, companies are not willing to take a risk on drivers with numerous violations. If you have more than 2 violations on your driving record than you can expect limited companies willing to give you the opportunity. As a result, keep your driving record clean.

5.       Understand your value

If you don’t know your value, then you are not in a position of strength. Negotiation is key. Don’t always take what you are offered. You must know your market value. What is your market value? If cannot answer this question. You may need to contact a recruiter. Recruiters represent multiple companies and typically get paid a % of your pay so they want to place you with the highest paid companies. Another way to find out is to shop around. Talk to companies but beware many companies say one thing but cannot always deliver.  

6.       Negotiate your pay don’t expect your company to do the right thing

Many drivers will be paid below their market value because they don’t talk to their employer. You do have to approach this carefully as many companies are not excited about pay increases. However, if you are working for a good company then they will understand your value.

7.       Build your network

One way to understand your value is to talk with other drivers in similar roles. You should have a handful drivers that work for different companies so that you can get a variety of feedback. Drivers should look to build comradery to support each other. Most drivers that are being paid well will share with you how they achieved this higher pay. Take note and see if there are things that you can duplicate.

8.       Make yourself know by Management

Drivers should not stay under the radar. They should talk with management. Find out what is going on in your company. Don’t just keep your head down and drive. You are part of a company and companies succeed by communication. Make sure you are known for outstanding driving record and reliability. Read your company newsletters. If your company doesn’t have one, then talk to your management about getting one out. By showing your interest in your company then you show that you are concerned about what is going. Don’t just share with management what is wrong but also what is right. Remember these people are individuals and they need to know when they do things right as well.

9.       Wave the Company Flag

Many drivers don’t realize that their attitude makes a difference. If you speak highly of your company and management then you will be someone that they want to keep around. Don’t expect to bad mouth your management and be rewarded. Remember all these things factor in how you are paid. Remember management determines pay and for that reason alone you should respect them. If you don’t like your management then it may be time to move on.

10.   Understand the different ways you get PAID

You must know how you get paid to measure apples to apples. Don’t be sold by companies that pay high mileage cpm rates yet no wait pay. You need to know if you are getting paid a per diem, wait times, load times etc. If you are not familiar with all the different ways to get paid then you need to do some research. Figure out how to optimize these items. Remember while you are working you need to figure out how you make the highest rate. Keep the truck moving. Don’t waste your time. Drivers for the same company can be paid $20k to $30k difference for multiple reasons. As a driver you must hustle to make the highest pay. There is no easy way around you must add value to your company to be rewarded.

  • Top Pay – Tanker Drivers $85k
  • Average Pay – Tanker Driver $70k
  • Lower Pay – Tanker Driver $55k