How Much Does A CDL Driver Earn?

Heavy and Tractor-Trailer Truck Drivers

2016 median annual salary: $41,340

Heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers transport goods from one place to another. Many of these drivers are long-haul drivers and operate trucks with a gross vehicle weight (GVW) capacity of more than 26,000 pounds – Class B drivers. These truck drivers transport goods between cities and sometimes across several states.

Depending on the company and type of goods they carry, some drivers have one or two routes they drive regularly, while others may take different routes throughout the country.

Some job duties for Heavy and Tractor-Trailer truck drivers include:

  • Driving long distances
  • Securing product for transport – depending on the truck and products you could be using using ropes, tarps, blocks, chains, etc.
  • Inspecting trailers before and after the trip, and record any defects
  • Reporting incidents encountered while on the road to your dispatcher
  • Logging in work hours that comply with federal and state regulations
  • Reporting serious mechanical problems
  • Keeping trucks and equipment clean and in good working order

Certain cargo, like hazardous materials, requires drivers to follow additional safety procedures. While those who transport liquids, oversized loads, or cars, have rules that apply specifically to their type of cargo.

Bus Drivers

2016 median annual salary: $31,920

Different types of bus drivers have a variety of jobs. Bus drivers transport passengers from one place to another—whether it’s work, school, shopping, appointments, etc. Some drivers cross state lines and national borders. Some drive regular routes each day while others transport passengers on sightseeing tours. Bus driver jobs include school bus, local transit, intercity (between cities which can also cross state lines), and charter busses. Bus sizes range from 15-passenger to 100-passenger.bus driver driving

Bus drivers’ daily job requirements can include:

  • Picking up and dropping off passengers at certain locations
  • Following a route on a time schedule
  • Helping passengers when needed
  • Obeying traffic laws plus all state and federal transit regulations
  • Keeping passengers informed of any time delays due to traffic, accidents, etc.
  • Performing basic maintenance on the vehicle
  • Keeping the bus clean and presentable

A lot of commercial drivers don’t realize a bus driver position is even possible. Know and understand all of your options as you begin or continue a career in commercial driving!

Light Truck or Delivery Services

2016 median annual salary: $30,580

Light truck or delivery service vehicles include trucks or vans with a capacity of less than 26,000 pounds Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW). Major duties for this type of driver include delivery and/or pick up of merchandise and packages usually within city or county limits.

Here are a few others:

  • Transport goods by light truck or van to and from specific places within a city area.
  • Basic inspection and maintenance on vehicle to ensure it’s in proper working condition.
  • Verify the contents of inventory loads against shipping papers.
  • May need to load and unload shipments.
  • Follow traffic and transportation procedures.
  • Maintain all paperwork in accordance with regulations.
  • Be able to perform emergency repairs like changing a flat tire, replacing spark plugs, adding snow chains, etc.
  • Turn in receipts and money received from deliveries.
  • Keep records of sales for products from truck inventory.

You should also do research in to the city/state information associated with cost of living and other factors to really gauge how you view that annual salary.

Industrial Truck and Tractor Operators

2016 median annual salary: $32,460

Be able to operate industrial trucks or tractors that are equipped to move materials in a factory, warehouse, construction site, or similar setting.

In addition to driving these vehicles you’ll need to have some idea of how to:

  • Operate automatic stacking, loading, packaging, or cutting machines.
  • Signal other workers to dump or level materials.
  • Hook tow trucks to trailer hitches
  • Fasten attachments, such as graders, plows, winch cables and rollers to tractors for work on highways, construction sites, more.
  • Turn valves and open chutes to release materials (usually bulk solids) from storage bins into hoppers.
  • Be able to to drive gasoline- or electric-powered vehicles and transport materials between loading, processing, and storage areas.
  • Operate lifting devices to load, unload, transport, and stack material.

Since this type of job can be more involved than a delivery driver, the salary is higher.

Refuse and Recyclable Material Collectors

2016 median annual salary: $35,270

It goes by many names – refuse, compost, debris, rubbish, but it’s all garbage. It may not be pretty but it pays more that several other trucking jobs so you could say there’s money to be had in garbage and add recyclable materials in there, too. Whatever waste you’re collecting you are doing a community service by clearing away refuse every week. This job can be physically demanding, so ensure you’re in good health and able to stand, walk, and lift up to 50 pounds throughout your shift.

This position requires the ability to:

  • Work well with others (you’ll be on a team)
  • Communicate with co-workers and supervisors
  • Be able to think quickly and problem solve
  • Maintain a professional and courteous attitude at all times


All employees need safety training and each employee is responsible for ensuring that his/her safety cards are up-to-date throughout the year. For a position like this, whether it’s garbage or recyclables, you’ll need a Class-B CDL and at least one year of experience in the field with some knowledge of hazardous materials and non-collectable waste.

A normal day may go something like this:

  • Collect and dump refuse or recyclables from customer containers into truck.
  • Operate hoisting devices that lift the refuse bins and dump contents into truck body openings.
  • Drive truck through the established routes, whether it’s through residential streets or through business and industrial areas.
  • Be able to operate refuse compressor.
  • Dump refuse or recyclable materials at disposal sites.
  • Basic truck maintenance including refueling and adding other fluids as needed such as oil or brake fluid.
  • Fill out defective equipment reports.
  • Check road or weather conditions to determine how routes will be affected.
  • Tag garbage or recycling containers to inform customers of problems, such as excess garbage or inclusion of items that are not permitted.
  • Sort items set out for recycling and throw materials into designated truck compartments.
  • Make special pickups of recyclable materials, such as food scraps, used oil, discarded computers, or other electronic items.

Understanding the job requirements for a material collectors might affect how you look at these average salaries.

Septic Tank Servicers And Sewer Pipe Cleaners

2016 median annual salary: $36,430

Once again proving that waste creates better salaries, we reach the septic tank servicers and sewer pipe cleaners. It’s a dirty job but it must be done.

If you think you would enjoy a job in this field a few of your daily duties may be:

  • Flush out and repair septic tanks, sewer lines, and drains
  • Cut damaged sections of pipe with cutters
  • Remove any broken pipe sections and replace
  • Patch walls when necessary
  • Replace damaged drain, tile, and repair breaks in underground piping
  • Clean and disinfect the area(s) that was flooded by sewer stoppages or leaks
  • Ensure repaired sewer line joints are tightly sealed
  • Cover the repaired underground pipes with dirt, and pack backfilled excavations
  • You’ll need to install the proper size rotary knives onto cables that are mounted on machine reels, to properly clean pipes
  • Locate problems, using special equipment and mark the spot where digging will originate to reach damaged pipe or tank
  • Be able to operate sewer-cleaning equipment
  • Be able to break asphalt and other pavement using air hammers, picks and shovels
  • Communicate with supervisors and other workers, using technology
  • Service and make minor repairs to equipment, machines, and attachments
  • Be able to install sewer saddles

As you can see there are many types of trucking industry jobs and certainly enough to find a job that suits you. The pay is good, it’s better the more knowledge you have, and the work is never routine – unless you want it to be.