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The Average Over the Road Tractor Trailer Driver Salaries

by Rick Suttle

Grocery, consumer products and electronics manufacturers depend on over the road -- or long-haul -- tractor-trailer drivers to transport products in a timely manner across state lines. These truckers plan their routes with GPS devices, load and unload cargo, report problems or late shipments to dispatchers and obtain signatures from those who receive shipments. They also log their activities and conduct periodic truck inspections to ensure their vehicles are operating effectively. Over the road tractor-trailer drivers earn salaries averaging just over $40,000 annually.

Salary and Qualifications

The average annual salary for over the road tractor-trailer drivers was $40,360 as of May 2012, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. If you were among the top 10 percent in earnings, you'd make over $58,910 annually. These long-haul truckers are required to have high school diplomas, or GEDs, and Commercial Driver's Licenses -- CDLs. Your trucking firm may train you for the commercial license through practical and classroom instruction. You will then be required to pass the knowledge and driving portions of the test. Most trucking companies prefer hiring long-haul truckers with at least two years driving experience. Other essential qualifications include physical strength, stamina, manual dexterity, good vision and hearing and hand-eye coordination.

Salary by Industry

In 2012, over the road tractor-trailer drivers earned some of the highest annual salaries working for long-distance courier services, at $58,140, based on BLS data. They also earned comparatively high salaries in the aerospace products and parts manufacturing and postal service industries -- $56,770 and $52,780 per year, respectively. If you worked as a grocery wholesale or general freight trucker, you'd earn $44,400 or $41,680 per year, respectively, or closer to the industry average of $40,360. Your earnings would be slightly less driving a concrete or cement truck, at $37,070 annually.

Salary by State

These drivers earned the highest annual salaries, $51,280, in Alaska in 2012, according to the BLS. The also earned above-average salaries in Massachusetts and Nevada -- $46,020 and $45,580 per year, respectively. If you worked as one these truckers in Pennsylvania, you'd earn $41,920 per year. Your earnings would be $39,730 or $36,310, respectively, in Ohio or Florida.

Job Outlook

Heavy and tractor-trailer truck driver jobs are expected to increase 21 percent in the next decade, according to the BLS, which is faster than the 14 percent average for all jobs. Truckers transport the most products in the United States, and delivering products "just in time" is critical in a competitive marketplace. This should increase job opportunities for you as an over the road tractor-trailer driver.

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