Heavy and Tractor-Trailer Truck Driver

Average Salary (US)


Projected 5-Year Job Growth


Source: JobsEQ®, a labor market data provider developed by economists and data scientists. Data as of 2020Q1 except wages which are as of 2019

Table of Contents


What does a Heavy and Tractor-Trailer Truck Driver do?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (“BLS”), the U.S. Department of Labor’s principal fact- finding agency for the federal government in the field of labor, economics, and statistics that provides data on employment and wages, Heavy and Tractor-Trailer Truck Drivers transport goods from one location to another. Most tractor-trailer drivers are long-haul drivers and operate trucks with a total weight exceeding 26,000 pounds for the vehicle, passengers, and cargo. These drivers deliver goods over intercity routes that sometimes span several states.


Heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers typically do the following:

  • Drive long distances
  • Report any incidents encountered on the road to a dispatcher
  • Follow all applicable traffic laws
  • Secure cargo for transport, using ropes, blocks, chains, or covers
  • Inspect their trailers before and after the trip and record any defects they find 
  • Maintain a log of their working hours, following all federal and state regulations
  • Report serious mechanical problems to the appropriate people
  • Keep their trucks and associated equipment clean and in good working order

Most heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers’ routes are assigned by a dispatcher, but some independent drivers still plan their own routes. When planning routes, drivers must take into account any road restrictions that prohibit large trucks. Drivers also must plan legally required rest periods into their trip.

Some drivers have one or two routes that they drive regularly, and other drivers take many different routes throughout the country. In addition, some drivers have routes that include Mexico or Canada.

Companies sometimes use two drivers, known as teams, on long runs to minimize downtime. On these team runs, one driver sleeps in a berth behind the cab while the other drives.

Certain cargo requires drivers to adhere to additional safety regulations. Some heavy truck drivers who transport hazardous materials, such as chemical waste, must take special precautions when driving and may carry specialized safety equipment in case of an accident. Other drivers, such as those carrying liquids, oversized loads, or cars, must follow rules that apply specifically to them.

Some long-haul truck drivers, also called owner-operators, buy or lease trucks and go into business for themselves. In addition to their driving tasks, owner-operators have business tasks, including finding and keeping clients and doing administrative work.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Heavy and Tractor-trailer Truck Drivers,
at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/transportation-and-material-moving/heavy-and-tractor-trailer-truck-drivers.htm

How much does a Heavy and Tractor-Trailer Truck Driver get paid?*

According to JobsEQ, a labor market data provider developed by economists and data scientists, Heavy and Tractor-Trailer Truck Drivers made an annual average salary of $46,900 in 2019.

The top 25% of earners made an annual average salary of $55,900 and the bottom 25% of web developers earned $36,300 in 2019. Those who started out as an entry-level Heavy and Tractor-Trailer Truck Driver in 2019 made $31,400 on average.

These numbers may vary based on geography and labor market.

Entry Level Mean Bottom 25% Top 25%

*Source: JobsEQ®. Wage data are as of 2019 and represent the average for all Covered Employment

Best-paying states for Heavy and Tractor-Trailer Truck Drivers**

According to the BLS, Alaska, Washington, D.C., and North Dakota bring the biggest paydays for Heavy and Tractor-Trailer Truck Drivers. On average, a Heavy and Tractor-Trailer Truck Driver in Alaska will earn $57,900 — far above the national mean — with figures topping out around $82,810. In Washington, D.C., and North Dakota, Heavy and Tractor-Trailer Truck Driver salaries come in at $53,720 and $53,690 per year on average, respectively.

**Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics (“BLS”). Data as of May 2019

Interested in becoming a Heavy and Tractor-Trailer Truck Driver?

Visit Meritize Connect to Find Training Programs in Your Area

Heavy and Tractor-Trailer Truck Driver job outlook***

According to JobsEQ, Heavy and Tractor-Trailer Truck Driver job opportunities will rise 2.4% over the next 5 years. Experts predict around 67,734 annual job openings, bumping employment from 1,971,059 Heavy and Tractor-Trailer Truck Drivers in 2020 up to 2,038,793 by 2025. This growth means job opportunities for Heavy and Tractor-Trailer Truck Drivers are plentiful in the next five years.

***Source: JobsEQ, Data as of 2020Q1, The shaded areas of the graph represent national recessions.

Heavy and Tractor-Trailer Truck Driver job skills and knowledge

According to O*NET Resource Center, people in this career often have these skills:

  • Operation and Control – Using equipment or systems.
  • Operation Monitoring – Watching gauges, dials, or display screens to make sure a machine is working.
People in this career often know a lot about:
  • Transportation – Knowledge of principles and methods for moving people or goods by air, rail, sea, or road, including the relative costs and benefits.
  • Public Safety and Security – Knowledge of relevant equipment, policies, procedures, and strategies to promote effective local, state, or national security operations for the protection of people, data, property, and institutions.
  • Customer and Personal Service – Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.

Source: O*NET Resource Center

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