What Bonuses and Benefits Can I Get as a Truck Driver?

 

What Bonuses and Additional Wages Do Trucking Companies Pay?

In addition to your normal trucking driving wages, the trucking industry allows you the opportunity to earn bonuses and additional pay. There are many factors that will determine these opportunities, and truck drivers’ pay differs from company to company. The type of freight your company hauls also determines the bonuses you will be offered. For example, LTL and tanker trucking companies will often offer more money.

Here’s a breakdown of some bonuses that are available to truck drivers:

  • Sign-on Bonus

Because the general population is always in need of goods and companies always need their products hauled, truck drivers are in constant demand. In order to entice you to join their ranks, many truck driving companies will pay drivers a sign-on bonus. You will receive a check just for signing on to work for a company. This is a great incentive to consider when choosing the company you want to work for.

Signing up to be part of team also puts extra money in your pocket. A driver can only drive so many hours legally, but when you are part of a team, the freight can be in constant motion. Teams make higher-than average rates per mile due to their timeliness, and the sign-on bonuses may be higher as a result.

  • Bonus for Monthly Mileage

Some companies offer a bonus for hitting a certain number of miles each month. Miles are equivalent to money in the truck driving industry. Not only will you make your normal wage, but you will earn extra money for exceeding a predetermined number of miles.

  • Layover Pay

Truck driving includes a lot of waiting. The problem is that drivers are usually paid per mile.  If the wheels aren’t moving, the driver isn’t earning. Some companies offer layover pay for time lost while you are forced to wait for your next dispatch. And as a tip, make sure to request this bonus pay from your dispatch or you might not get it.

  • Detention Pay

Sometimes you are forced to wait for your next delivery.  Other times, you are forced to wait while a deliver is loaded or unloaded.  If you wait during the unloading process for a couple hours, you may qualify for detention pay.

Your time is valuable, and your trucking company knows this. If you are forced to wait to be unloaded, you will be paid for the time it takes you off the road. They will alert those who oversee the bill when you have acquired detention charges.

  • Referrals

As mentioned, there is a high demand for truck drivers. If you can persuade a friend or acquaintance to sign up with your company, they may offer you a bonus. Ask your company about a referral program that can put more money in your pocket.

  • Safety Pay
    Saving fuel can add up for truck drivers.

Truck driving companies value drivers that are not willing to compromise safety. Accidents cost money and endanger both the driver and the reputation of the company. Some companies offer bonuses for a good record of safe driving.

  • Fuel Efficiency

If you can implement strategies to save fuel, your company may thank you for it with cash. Saving fuel will save your company money, and they greatly appreciate it. Ask about fuel efficiency bonuses.

  • Breakdown Pay

If your truck is out of commission, often this means that you cannot accumulate your wage. However, some companies offer breakdown pay, which is great since you cannot control if your truck is working or not.

  • Location-Based Pay

Some parts of the country are not ideal for truck drivers to travel in and out of, but this means you will make more money for the inconvenience. New York City, in particular, is a traffic quagmire.

  • Get Paid More for Specialized Freight

There are specialized trucks that offer higher truck driver wages. Tankers are specialized types of loads due to the extremely large amount of liquid being hauled. The way the liquid moves around in the tanker makes the vehicle more difficult to maneuver, and therefore the driver gets compensated differently. Due to the set low-temperature that a reefer truck provides, and the energy required to run it, the pay is greater. Hazmat and other specialized freight will also require special handling and additional work, translating into higher pay.

  • Tarp Pay

Flatbed trucks are unique because drivers haul an open bed rather than a typical van or tank.  Flatbed drivers must tie down and secure their load.  Additionally, if a load requires an extra covering, you will get paid to cover the load with a tarp. It requires extra physical work to ensure that the load is secured and covered properly, so you will get paid accordingly.

  • Auto Haulers/Car Transport

Transporting vehicles can add to your truck driving wages. You will be hauling extremely valuable cargo, meaning you will be paid more than your average freight. Make sure you have the patience and diligence to sign up for hauling cars.

  • Cattle Haulers or Bull Haulers
    Hauling cattle offers additional pay for truckers.

It’s exactly what it sounds like: you will be hauling cattle and bulls. The drive is important for the well-being of the livestock. If you like animals and have patience, cattle and bull hauling can be a great way to earn a little more for driving. It can be unpleasant to your senses (due to the odor), but you can make extra money for hauling precious livestock.

  • Trainer Pay

Experienced truck drivers with a passion to teach may want to apply to companies that offer training positions.  This position offers an experienced driver the opportunity to positively affect the transportation industry, one driver at a time.  Most training companies allow the trainer to accumulate all the miles that both the trainer and the trainee drive.

Trainers typically drive the newer trucks and enjoy certain perks that non-training drivers don’t receive, such as residual pay.  Trainers may even accumulate a few cents per mile while their former students drive for the company.  This small sum encourages the trainer to keep in touch with the new driver, and, in turn, the new driver has a valuable resource should they encounter difficulty.

  • On-Time Bonuses

Being on schedule for deliveries is extremely important. When truck drivers do not make their scheduled delivery appointments, everybody involved looks bad: the vendor, the carrier, and of course, the driver. Companies earn business based on their reliability. To incentivize drivers to be on time, trucking companies offer bonuses based on your delivery dependability. Make sure you arrive for your appointments on time, and you can earn extra money.

  • LTL Jobs

LTL, which is an abbreviation for less-than-truckload, have a highly-desired schedule as well as other benefits. LTL companies can charge more than full truck loads for their smaller pickups. LTL companies also have other benefits, such as more home time.

Regular truck driver wages can provide a substantial income through mileage or hourly pay, but don’t overlook the bonuses and additional sources of revenue. Most importantly, do not be afraid to ask your trucking company or dispatcher about the above circumstances and additional pay. If you don’t ask, they might not offer. 

What Benefits Do Trucking Companies Offer?

The benefits of being a truck driver can be many- if you’re willing to put the commitment and sincere effort in to your job of hauling, which can sometimes be too much for some. The reality is, many truck drivers today are not staying long enough with a company or even in the trade to be able to take advantage of the great benefits that are offered. With enough dedication and fortitude, any driver has the opportunity to be able to thrive as a trucker. Let’s take a look at the many trucking benefits that most companies offer:

  • Tuition Reimbursement

Upon getting hired as a truck driver, many trucking companies offer tuition reimbursement as an incentive for getting your CDL, sometimes in exchange for staying with the company a certain amount of time. Companies such as TMC and Schneider offer up to $6,000 and U.S. Express offers up to $7,000, while Werner offers significantly less, for example.

  • Paid Vacation/ Paid Sick Time

Most trucking companies today offer paid vacations to further entice prospective drivers. Once again, this really depends on a case-by-case basis, and care should be taken when considering hiring with a company; some companies offer vacation time, but may not be paid, for instance. Prime Inc., one of the largest trucking companies, offers paid vacation, but only after one year of employment and having driven a certain number of miles.

Getting sick on the road is not something any driver wants to experience. Most of the time, drivers have to tough it out and keep driving. However, it should be kept in mind that being found too ill or fatigued to drive can cost you 10 CSA points on your license, which is the maximum that can be given for any one violation. Prospective drivers should inquire about individual company sick policies.

  • Medical and Dental Insurance

Most companies offer this benefit on a case-by-case basis. Schneider’s “benefit package”, for instance, offer “complete” benefits, and more. Participation in the insurance is not mandatory. Dental (preventive care) bills are completely covered when getting a filling, bridge, or crown.

Wayne Transports offers plans that are no more than $4,000 annually for a single person and no more than $8,000 for a family with Blue Cross Blue Shield and includes direct access to the Mayo Clinic. Their dental insurance options are $13/mo for single and $26/mo for “all other categories”, which covers regular exams and cleanings, to include x-rays and fluoride treatments.

  • Life Insurance

Most companies offer basic life insurance as a truck driver benefit as well. Prime, Inc. has a $15,000 natural death and $30,000 accidental death benefit, for instance, while Schneider drivers receive $20,000 of life insurance at no cost.

  • Some trucking companies offer great benefits.

    401(k) Retirement Plans

For those certain about their truck driving career, take a look at long-term benefits. Like many other companies, trucking companies offer a variety of retirement plans and investment funds.

These plans also serve as a form of “insurance” for the company: drivers cannot be eligible for them unless they stay with the company for a certain amount of time.

At Werner, you’ll be fully vested after five years of employment. At Prime, the first 3% deferred is matched 100%, and the next two is matched at 50%, for example.

Most companies do not have exacts on 401(k) plans, so proper inquiries should be made to find the best match for you before you decide to stay with the company long-term.

  • Other Benefits

Trucking companies are most concerned about retaining their hired driver associates. Thus, many have several types of smaller benefits available to their truck drivers, such as tuition assistance (e.g. Prime), health savings accounts (e.g. Wayne Transports), spending accounts (e.g.Wayne, Schneider), phone stipends (e.g. Wayne Transports), profit sharing (e.g. Dot), employee assistance programs (e.g. Schneider, Dot), disability benefits, employee discounts, commuter benefits, free health and wellness programs such as gym access, recreation options, service awards, and more. Some carriers even offer exclusive, complimentary resorts only for employees and their families.

 Some Considerations…

Paid vacation takes a long time to accumulate, and there are plenty of horror stories about getting sick on the road and not having adequate company support. Other driver benefits take time and effort to set up and manage, something that truck drivers simply don’t have. You are expected to drive several hundred miles each day and after ten-hour workdays, the last thing you think about is managing your savings account.

Being on the road makes it hard to enjoy benefits.

Speaking of time, while there are free gyms at many company operating centers such as Schneider, most drivers simply do not have the time (or energy) to utilize them to the fullest extent as opposed to if you had a nine-to-five office job.

Driving can be not only dangerous, but also has significant health implications. Sitting all day and being restricted to gas station and truck stop food does not pair well with the human body’s fat storage system. It is no lie that the majority of truck drivers are at least overweight, some even obese.

The benefits are truly usable and valuable, given one catch. You have to be absolutely in, or simply out. Truck driving is not an “I think I’ll try it” job; it requires commitment and a tireless, motivated, and dedicated attitude to reap all, if not most, of the benefits.

There are plenty of truckers with the beautiful, brand new Kenworths and Navistars who worked half their lives to reach where they are, and they’re not done yet. They have reached the highpoint of their career where they drive for who they want, when they want, and what they want, for excellent benefits and compensation that has been steadily rising over the years to a very comfortable level. Perhaps they’re even teaming with their spouses, maximizing their job pay and keeping their morale and time with family high.

By the time such a person is ready to retire, their investment and savings plans would have matured a nice bit. Trucking can be a experience with plenty of benefits, but only for a certain and elite few who choose to answer the call.

What Are the Other Job Benefits of Being a Truck Driver?

There are many great job benefits of being a truck driver beyond the paycheck. Depending on your personality and goals, the perks and advantages can outweigh any other job.

  • Job Security

Trucking companies are always on the lookout for reliable drivers. If you have a CDL and a clean driving record, a job with great benefits is out there waiting for you. An unfortunate reality of the market is that sometimes people lose work and can’t immediately find a new job. Having a Class A CDL is your own personal insurance policy.

And no matter where you move throughout the country, you should have a wide variety of employment opportunities. There will always be goods and packages that need to be delivered across the states, and there will always be a need for drivers to move them.

Truck drivers have a degree of freedom.
  • Make Your Own Schedule

As a truck driver, you are able to plan and negotiate your own schedule. If you want to see the country and earn as much money as possible, you can get an OTR job and spend most of your time racking up miles on the road.

If you want more home time to spend with your family, you can tailor your job to that priority. Different companies, routes, and freights allow for different contingencies.

  • Work Type

You also have control over the type of work you will be doing. There are certifications and special licenses that set you up to make more money or haul more challenging freight. There’s more opportunity to stay fit if you opt for a job that requires you to load and unload. The reverse is also true: some jobs require very little physical effort.

  • Independence

Truck driving is a career where you get out what you put in. For the independent and self-motivated, this is one of the greatest benefits of being a truck driver. While at work, it’s just you and the open road; no boss or manager looking over your shoulder. No coworkers gossiping and nitpicking. No office politics.

If you enjoy solitude and want more time alone to unwind, trucking driving is for you. All of that time can even overlap with your leisure activities. No time to read? Get an audiobook. Want to get a jump on your fantasy league? There’s a podcast for that. Spouse doesn’t like your favorite band? No problem in your truck!

  • Perks

In order to keep truck drivers happy, many companies offer a variety of extra benefits. Truck stops sometimes now come equipped with small movie theaters, gyms and courts, on-site healthcare, or nice areas to wash up. Some companies allow you to ride with your pet.

If you’re an over-the-road trucker, one major benefit is the ability to save a lot of money. OTR drivers often live in their trucks, which saves on necessities like rent and utilities. Newer trucks even offer satellite radio or TV and have more comfortable sleep cabs.

Additionally, because many drivers either train on-the-job or receive reimbursement from a company, one of the greatest benefits of being a truck driver is little-to-no student debt!

 

About The Authors
Contributors: Priscilla Santos, Alli Hartmann. Expert Review: William Mason, Luke Nold.

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