Are Truck Drivers Rich? You Might Be Surprised

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The answer is… it depends. Are truck drivers rich? It depends on who’s asking or who is being asked. The nature of this question is very subjective. What does the person who is asking consider as “rich”? What about the person answering the question? How much money do they consider to be “rich”?

Somebody in an entry-level job, like a fast food worker or retail clerk, likely earns less than the average truck driver. Those types of people might think that a truck driver is rich.

On the flip side… a college-educated working professional, like a doctor or lawyer, likely earns far more than an average truck driver. A person like that probably would not think that a truck driver is rich.

What about the trucker himself (or herself)? Do they consider themselves rich? What about others in professions that earn similar wages to truck drivers? Do you think they would think that truck drivers are rich?

So, Are Truck Drivers Rich?

I’ve been a full-time truck driver for my day job for over 20 years. I am a trucker. I know lots of truckers. I talk to many truckers. I hear other truckers talking amongst themselves and to others. I know the trucking industry inside and out. I am here to tell you, from my point of view, that truck drivers are not rich.

Some of us make really good money, and some of us act like we are rich. Overall though – I would say that truck drivers would not be considered rich. There are many other professions or ways to make money that more quickly and easily lead to riches.

What does it mean to be “rich”?

As mentioned earlier, the thought of being “rich” is very subjective. For example… even the poorest people in America are considered rich by worldly standards. Let’s take a look at some of the definitions for the word “rich” – as it pertains to wealth or money.

rich /riCH/

  1. having a great deal of money or assets; wealthy.
  2. plentiful; abundant.

In my mind, to be “rich” means to have far more money and/or assets than one needs to survive comfortably and thrive abundantly.

are truck drivers rich - smiling woman truck driver

Most truck drivers that I know have plenty of money to survive. They earn enough to pay the necessary bills (like mortgage or rent and utilities) and buy things like gas, food, clothing, and insurance. Most truckers that I know also earn enough to thrive. Meaning they can afford to pay for some extras, like alcohol, tobacco, and any other hobbies or indulgences they might enjoy.

However, most truckers that I know typically do not have very much extra money left over after all of their ‘survive and thrive’ expenses are met each month. In fact, many truckers use debt to fund some of these expenses and have to pay monthly payments on the debt.

Truck drivers are no different than most other ‘normal’ Americans. We pay for things upfront that we can’t really afford with credit cards or loans. We then get stuck in a never-ending cycle of paying monthly payments to banks. If you are in debt and barely able to keep up with monthly payments – then you would not be considered to be “rich.”

How Much Does an Average Truck Driver Earn?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average earnings for a truck driver in the United States is approximately $50,340 per year (at the time this was written).

Note: These stats were updated in May 2021. For current and up-to-date stats, please visit this link for Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics for Heavy and Tractor-Trailer Truck Drivers.

Compare the $50,340 truck driver earnings figure to the average earnings of ALL occupations in the United States, which is $58,260, to clearly see that truck drivers earn less than the overall nationwide average. By most definitions, that would not be considered “rich.”

Another independent source says that the average base salary for a truck driver in America is $77,810 per year, according to data reported and collected at indeed.com. This average can range from reported average low salaries of $52,177 per year to reported high salaries of $116,037 per year.

Note: The data from indeed.com seems to be more accurate and is updated more frequently.

How Much Does a Top-Earning Truck Driver Earn?

According to the same U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, a top 90% earning truck driver brings home an annual (yearly) wage of $72,730. Indeed.com reports that top earning truckers earn slightly more than $100k per year

Compare that to the bottom 10% earning truck drivers who only bring home an annual wage of $30,710. Again, indeed.com reports that bottom earning truckers earn closer to $52k per year.

man truck driver thumbs up

I guess this means that, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, I am above average, as I’ve earned quite a bit more than $72,730 from just my truck driving wages each of the last two years. Admittedly, I worked a lot of overtime to achieve my higher levels of income.

However, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics does not mention the number of hours worked in its stats – meaning that the wage statistics compiled are not necessarily based on average 40-hour work weeks.

I honestly don’t know why anybody would drive a truck for low wages, as evidenced by the bottom 10% averaging only $30,710 per year. The U.S. poverty guidelines for that same time period put a household with 5 family members in poverty at $31,040.

Why Are Truck Drivers Paid So Little?

Given that truck drivers are comparatively the lifeblood of the U.S. economy – why do you think they are paid so little? Is it because the trucking company owners are greedy and want to keep the money for themselves? Is it just the industry standard? Is it because the general public has a strong dislike for truck drivers?

I would say that the #1 reason truck drivers are paid so little is that they are willing to work for and accept such low wages.

why are truck drivers paid so little - sad man standing in front of semi truck

I am not one of these truckers who is willing to work for low wages. I worked my way up in my trucking career and landed myself at a great company that pays higher wages than most. Sure, I had to start out with lower wages early on in my career – just like most everybody else. But I certainly wasn’t going to stay content with lower wages.

Unfortunately, too many truckers do choose to stay content in their lower-wage jobs. As long as truck drivers continue to work for lower wages – those lower-wage jobs will continue to be there. That’s just the way that it is.

Why Do Trucking Wages Vary So Greatly?

Trucking companies pay vastly different wages, partly depending on the type of trucking job. But, why do wages vary so greatly for the same types of trucking jobs?

If you’re looking for high-paying truck driver jobs, then look no further than the management of the company, the size of the company, and the type of freight that they haul.

For example, I work for FedEx in their LTL (less than a truckload) Freight division. I’m earning nearly $100k per year (with overtime), while a local trucker (like me) who works for a small local company might be earning near the bottom 10% of truck driver wage earners for doing exactly the same job.

FedEx is a very large company that is managed extremely well. FedEx has a reputation for quality and good service, which allows them to demand higher prices from customers. This higher revenue allows them to pay their drivers more.

A smaller local company might also be managed well (or maybe not), but it can’t possibly have the same reputation as a behemoth like FedEx, and they are far less likely to be able to demand higher prices from customers. In turn, these smaller companies are less likely to be able to pay their drivers’ such high wages.

Is It Possible to Become Rich as a Truck Driver?

Given the definition of “rich,” it is absolutely possible to become wealthy and have an abundance as a truck driver. In fact, I would argue that one could become rich no matter what profession they choose!

Becoming rich starts with your money mindset. Once you get that part right, you must pick a strategy and commit to executing it.

2 of the Best Books on Money Mindset

For example, if you want to become a millionaire truck driver, it’s as easy as working the job steadily for your entire career and investing in retirement savings continually. Even with just an average truck driver’s salary, multi-millionaire status can be achieved! The key is to start investing early and be sure that your money is invested in proven funds with high average returns (over the long run).

How Can an Average Truck Driver Get Rich Faster?

If you’re not willing to wait it out for the long haul (pun intended) to build up your retirement savings until you hit “rich” status, then you may need to look for other income sources in addition to your truck driving wages.

Behold… there are actually lots of options available for truck drivers to earn passive income on the side. Here are just few ideas for side income for truck drivers…

  • Dividend Stock Investing (in addition to your retirement savings)
  • Invest in Hands-Off Real Estate (Fundrise is a leading platform for this)
  • Rent Out Your Storage Space (Neighbor is a leading platform for this)
  • Cashback Cards (ideal for truckers who are out spending money anyway)
  • Start a Blog (it’s easy to get started, and anybody can do this)

I don’t want to be a truck driver anymore. I’ll admit, that thought has crossed my mind as I deep-dive into my side hustle ventures in an attempt to earn money on the side. What if I start earning enough from my blog that I can start to consider quitting my day job? At this point, that is still just a pipe dream for me.

Who is The Richest Truck Driver in the United States Right Now?

Google doesn’t seem to know the answer to this question, so I can’t provide it here as a result. However, I was able to find some of the richest people in the world in this list of billionaire’s in the trucking industry! Please note that none of them made their fortune as drivers – rather as owning companies that hire drivers or that serve truck drivers.

trucking industry billionaires
  • Tom and Judy Love ($7 Billion) – founders of Love’s Travel Stops
  • Fred Smith ($4.1 Billion) – founder of FedEx
  • Johnelle Hunt ($2.8 Billion) – founded J.B. Hunt with her late husband
  • Jimmy Haslam ($2.7 Billion) – CEO of Pilot Flying J
  • Brad Jacobs ($1.7 Billion) – founded XPO Logistics
  • Jerry Moyes – ($1.2 Billion) – cofounded Swift Transportation alongside his father

The Bottom Line

As compared to the average wage earner in the United States, truck drivers are not considered “rich.” However, anybody (including truckers) can achieve wealth and abundance with the right money mindset and the willingness to execute a plan.

I, myself, am well on my way to becoming a multi-millionaire truck driver, and I know several other truckers who are on the same path. While I may not be considered “rich” by my fellow Americans – I certainly feel “rich” because I have the right money mindset, and I am confident that my plan will pay off in the future.

Matthew Allen
Matthew Allen
Matthew Allen is a full-time trucker, part-time blogger, and imaginary entrepreneur. He's probably not the only trucker who calls himself a dumbass. But, he is the only known trucker who is blogging about passive income."Might be crazy, but I ain't dumb!" ~ Crazy Cooter (also Matt's CB handle) 
Matthew Allen
Matthew Allen
Matthew Allen is a full-time trucker, part-time blogger, and imaginary entrepreneur. He's probably not the only trucker who calls himself a dumbass. But, he is the only known trucker who is blogging about passive income."Might be crazy, but I ain't dumb!" ~ Crazy Cooter (also Matt's CB handle)