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 has a number of opportunities to earn bonuses and additional pay. These bonuses aren’t available at each company, so you’ll have to ask your potential employer. Also, several of these benefits are only available to long-haul drivers.

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

  • Sign-on Bonus

Truck driving is a challenging job, and it’s no secret that drivers are in constant demand. Many trucking companies will offer you a sign-on bonus just to join their ranks. This is one of the easiest bonuses you’ll ever get. You receive a check just for signing up to work for a company.

  • Monthly Mileage Bonus

Some companies offer a bonus for hitting a certain number of miles each month. Not only will you make your normal truck driving wages of Cents Per Mile, but you will earn extra money for exceeding a predetermined number of miles.

  • Layover Pay

Truck driving includes a lot of waiting. You may not get your next assignment right away.

The problem is that drivers are only paid for the miles they log.  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.

  • Detention Pay

Your time is valuable, and your trucking company knows this. Time spent waiting at a shipper/receiver is time that you are kept off the road.

Detention pay is compensation for time that you are forced to wait while your trailer is loaded or unloaded. You may even be required to sit in the truck for a “live unload.” If you wait during the unloading process for a couple hours or more, you may qualify for detention pay.

  • Referrals

As mentioned, there is a high demand for truck drivers. If you can convince a friend 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
    Man holding debit card
    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 saves your company money.

  • Breakdown Pay

If your truck isn’t running, then neither are you. And if you’re not running, you’re not earning. Fortunately, some companies offer breakdown pay, which is great since you can’t control all the times your truck stops working. Let the mechanics deal with it.

  • Location-Based Pay

Some parts of the country are not made for trucks. New York City, in particular, is a swamp of traffic and local hazards. To make up for the hassle, some trucking companies offer bonuses for specific locations.

  • 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.  Sometimes load requires an extra covering, which requires extra physical work to ensure that the load is secured and covered properly. You get paid for the additional effort.

  • Auto Haulers/Car Transport

This isn’t a bonus, but hauling cars does add to your pay. Vehicles tend to be extremely valuable cargo, meaning you get paid more than your average freight. Your company wants you to be extra careful when transporting cars.

  • Cattle Haulers or Bull Haulers
    Cow staring directly at you
    Hauling cattle offers additional pay for truckers.

This is exactly what it sounds like: you will be hauling cattle and bulls. A safe and smooth 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 high truck driving wages. Just make sure you can handle the smell.

  • 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.  And most importantly, companies pay the trainer for 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.  With this pay, trainers make 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

When truck drivers don’t 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 make sure you’ll 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.

  • Specialized Freight

This isn’t a bonus, but specialized freight often leads to more money in your pocket. 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 paid better for the hassle.

Reefers typically demand temperature control, so the drivers are compensated for that as well. Hazmat and other specialized freight will also require special handling and additional work, translating into higher pay.

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 commit to the job and put in the work. The reality is, many truck drivers today do not stay long enough with a company or with the industry to be able to take advantage of the great benefits that are offered.

With enough dedication, 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

Once you get hired, 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. You’ll have to ask though; some companies offer vacation time, but it may be unpaid. 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, you shouldn’t push it if you are seriously ill. You can get 10 CSA points on your license if you are too sick or fatigued to drive, which is the maximum that can be given for any one violation. 

  • Medical and Dental Insurance

Most companies offer some sort of insurance benefits. Schneider’s benefit package, for instance, offers “complete” benefits. Wayne Transports offers plans that are no more than a $4,000 deductible 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. 

  • 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.

  • 401(k) Retirement Plans

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

Woman discussing her truck driver wages
Some trucking companies offer great benefits.

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 make sure to ask when you’re considering a long-term commitment to a company.

  • 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.

After 11 hours of driving, the last thing you think about is managing your savings account. Similarly, while there are free gyms at many company operating centers such as Schneider, most drivers simply don’t have the time (or energy) to work out. 

Stopwatch, close up
Being on the road makes it hard to enjoy benefits.

You certainly can use these benefits, but you have to commit to truck driving – as a lifestyle and a job. Truck driving is not an “I think I’ll try it” job.

Plenty of drivers have beautiful, brand-new Kenworths and Navistars, and they’ve worked half their lives to reach where they are. Those drivers have reached the high point of their career where they drive for who they want, when they want, and what they want.

The top drivers get excellent benefits and high truck driver wages that have been steadily rising to a very comfortable level. Perhaps they’re even teaming with their spouses.

By the time these truck drivers are 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. As long as 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.

  • Make Your Own Schedule

As a truck driver, you are able to plan and negotiate your own schedule.

Tanker driving into the horizon
Truck drivers have a degree of freedom.

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!

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 (Transportation coordinator and load planner with multiple years as a writer), Alli Hartmann (Experienced writer for 5+ years for a variety of industries, including transportation).

Expert Review: William Mason (Current CDL Instructor and former truck driver with 20+ years of experience), Luke Nold (Experienced truck driver for 5+ years and published writer for Fleet Magazine).

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