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A career within the trucking industry provides both a steady income and an adventurous way to see America. Professional truck drivers make on average $43,680 yearly and around $21.00 per hour, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Some drivers will make much more than this. In fact, the more experience a driver has, the more they are likely to earn.  

Experience Qualifications: What Does it Mean to be an Experienced Driver?

It’s important to define what it means to be an experienced truck driver before expounding on the topic of outlook and trends any further. Experience doesn’t always simply mean a driver who has been there and done that. It actually involves three characteristics that combine to label a driver as experienced. There are three main things to consider when quantifying a trucker’s experience level, they are:

  • Years: Their years of driving experience, when they were trained and how many years they have been in the business
  • Location: Where they have worked, what states, regions, situations they worked in, etc.
  • Number of Miles: The last factor to consider is how many hours of drive time a driver has logged. How many actual miles have been driven.

Being an experienced professional driver comes with some clout that is not easily reproduced by novices. Therefore, they should be proud of their knowledge and understanding of the industry and with all other industries and life in general. Now, it’s time to consider the outlook and trends for experienced drivers, which was helpfully compiled by Knight Transportation:

The Outlook And Trends For Experienced Drivers

Experience Equals More Money

As mentioned above, the more experience a driver has, the more they can expect to earn. The average for income ranges between $.28 and $.40 a mile, but some companies will pay even more, depending on driver’s skill and experience level. In addition, a truck driver should consider their cost of living when evaluating their salary. In other words, a high salary along with a high cost of living, might not net as much income as a lower salary in a state where the cost of living is lower. The following is a list of the best states for experienced drivers to work in currently. Each of these states offer truckers a better than average salary and a low enough cost of living to ensure a healthy take home pay for professional truckers:

  • Montana: Trucker salary: $46,100. This is $4,800 more annually than the average job in Montana.
  • Idaho: Trucker salary: $42,010. This is $4,500 more than average in Idaho.
  • Indiana: Trucker salary: $46, 210. This number is $5,200 more than average in Indiana.
  • New Mexico: Trucker salary: $44,460. This number is $6,300 more than average.
  • Arizona: Trucker salary: $45,430. This is $6,300 more than average.
  • South Carolina: Trucker salary $42,270. This is $6,000 more than average.
  • Utah: Trucker salary: $45,550. This is $6,500 more than average.
  • Kentucky: Trucker salary: $45,550. This is $6,500 more than average.
  • Mississippi: Trucker salary: $40,900. This is $6,500 more than average.
  • Nevada: Trucker salary: $50,920. This is $8,500 more than average.

The states listed above all represent locations where experienced professional truck drivers can thrive. They can expect to make even more than the salaries listed in most cases as they are averages, which include rookie driver’s salaries. In addition, experienced truckers can work in states not mentioned and still enjoy a better salary thanks to the advantage their experience affords them. Now that the salary advantage has been explained, it’s time to consider more outlook and trends coming for experienced drivers…

Not Enough Drivers, Especially Experienced Professionals

The driver shortage that has been around for some time and is still here. This means experienced drivers who have left the industry and would like to come back are in prime position to reenter the field. Most trucking companies will gladly welcome experienced drivers onto their teams and will gladly get them back on the road as soon as possible. Overall, professional drivers remain in high demand and the path remains steady.

New Technology

Another trend within the industry includes the inclusion of various types of technology in the field. The ELD mandate is now in full effect and means all trucks have the latest technology. While this mandate can be burdensome for trucking companies to meet, it is beneficial for drivers. The presence of such technology increases their safety on the roadways and reduces manual entries in a log book. Of course, an experienced driver would especially understand why tracking technology that oversees logged miles, speed and hard braking is advantageous. Therefore, the incorporation of additional technology within the industry should be exciting for experienced truckers who are either already in the industry or considering a return to the field because it reduces the amount of paperwork.

Tariffs Impact on the Industry

Trucker’s income levels might have impacted in some way by the trade war between China and the United States regardless of a trucker’s experience level. It has been an ongoing issue since 2016. This article by the Guardian explains it in more detail. The end result of this conflict basically caused a reduction in many carriers’ revenue stream in 2019.  Thankfully, experts predict a resolution to come soon as negotiations are resuming between China and the US. Consequently, relief for the trucking industry, relating to tariffs and the conflict will likely dissipate towards the end of 2020. The overall economy will take some time to rebound though, but thankfully there is an end in sight. This will positively impact the trucking industry and in turn benefit experienced truckers as well.

What The Future Holds For Experienced Truckers

No one can see into the future. That is true within the trucking industry and with all other industries and life in general. Thankfully, the trucking industry is expected to remain strong into the future, meaning there is a positive outlook for all workers within the field. Of course, an experienced trucker will benefit even more and will thrive in the future. Experienced drivers should contact Knight Transportation to learn more about the benefits they can enjoy as seasoned professionals. Their skill set and real-world experience is immensely valued by trucking companies like Knight Transportation. If a trucker is currently in the industry and thinking of making a change or simply wants to reenter after they have tried another career, they are a prime candidate for employment with a professional trucking company. The outlook is most certainly bright, especially for experienced professional truck drivers!

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