When most people think of high-paying jobs, trucking isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. However, it’s possible to make serious money as a truck driver – you just have to be transporting the right loads. Even though the average trucking company operates on fairly tight profit margins, certain niches within the industry enjoy much higher rates of pay. Trends like these are featured on sites like Truck Driver News, and are essential to keep up with for anyone considering a job in the trucking industry.
Mining industry trucking
From coal to ore that contains precious metals, the mining industry produces more than enough material for truckers to transport from mines to processing facilities. But why does it pay so well to haul loads of what are essentially glorified rocks? Truck drivers have to drive into the mine shafts, where the trailers are loaded up with coal or other substances. This part of the job is hazardous since a sudden bump could result in a collapsed shaft. The job is dangerous and requires plenty of trucking experience – two things that typically result in higher pay rates.
Loads for private fleets
Most companies that require shipping services hire a trucking company to get the job done. However, massive corporations (like Walmart, for instance) can afford to operate their fleets. Since they only pay for operating costs rather than paying for third-party services, these companies can afford higher rates than average. Even better, these jobs aren’t as niche as some high-paying trucking jobs, making them more readily available. Of course, there’s a trade-off; applicants are expected to have excellent driving records and are held to high productivity standards. Even so, that’s to be expected for low-risk trucking jobs that pay well.
Jobs as an owner-operator
Truck drivers tend to work as employees of trucking companies, but that isn’t always the case. A few of them work as owner-operators, owning the vehicles they drive. This means that instead of collecting a trucker’s salary, they profit from the entire business. It also means that they have to do a lot more work than just driving – managing orders, drumming up new business, and so on. Plus, they have to start with the capital to buy or lease their own equipment and facilities. This type of trucking job requires a few years of experience in the industry, as well as start-up expenses, but it can be a lot more profitable than being a truck driver for a company.
Regardless of what’s being transported, team driving pays more than going solo. Why? Because this allows the drivers to cover more ground in shorter periods. Since drivers are generally paid per mile, this results in a higher paycheck. There are strict laws governing how long truckers are allowed to stay behind the wheel each day, which are designed to prevent trucking companies from forcing sleep-deprived drivers to keep working. However, this also limits the amount of money they can make daily. By having two drivers working in shifts, each one gets paid more. The downside is that if the drivers don’t get along that well, it can result in a lot of friction and stress. Even so, plenty of team drivers enjoy the pay increase.
Luxury vehicle hauling
The more the cargo is worth, the more it costs to haul it. This is especially true in the case of luxury vehicles, which often cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. When these cars get taken from point A to point B, it isn’t enough to just get them there in one piece; they must be delivered in pristine condition and handled with white-glove treatment the whole way. For this reason, the drivers have to be experienced and meticulous, with a clean driving record and demonstrable skills.
If you regularly drive along highways, you’ve probably gotten stuck behind an oversized load before. Maybe it was a wind turbine part, or some construction equipment, or even a section of a house. Whatever the case, you likely noticed that these trucks stayed in the same lane at all times and were going slower than the rest of the traffic. This is because oversized loads must be driven carefully to avoid accidents; truckers must get additional certification to haul oversized loads, which speaks to the job's complexity.
Like hauling mining loads, transporting hazardous materials (hazmats) pays more because of the associated risks. There’s also the fact that hazmat drivers need additional certification, so they’re being paid for their extra qualifications, too. In many instances, the trucking company will pay for employee training since there’s a lot of demand for hazmat drivers. The transported materials can vary, but they’re generally volatile in some way – flammable gases, explosive liquids, corrosive materials, etc.
Fortunately for truck drivers they can get paid more for hauling liquids even if they aren’t prone to catching on fire or causing chemical burns. Driving a tanker truck requires skill, attention to detail, and additional certification. One option is to get an X endorsement, which qualifies the holder to transport loads of over 1,000 gallons, plus a certification for hazmats. Another option is to get an N endorsement, which is just like the X endorsement minus the hazmat certification. This driving job pays more not just because of the extra certification but also because liquids are simply more difficult to haul safely than many other goods.
Ice road trucking
This is possibly one of the highest-paying trucking jobs available, with the potential to earn up to $40,000 in only three months. Ice road truckers drive in very dangerous conditions, often delivering crucial supplies to places (like mining installations) where goods otherwise wouldn’t be available. Because of the high risk associated with the job, ice road trucking is a very lucrative niche within the industry.