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More big rig drivers earning big bucks

6/10/2022

More truckers are enjoying the fruits of their labors with more generous salaries.

Making a "good living," can be likened to beauty — the definition of it is largely in the eyes of the beholder. While today's dollar doesn't buy quite as much as it used to — due to record-breaking inflation — most people can agree that a six-figure salary is a good living, even though it's not easy to reach in many lines of work. Professionals can get to that earnings milestone through consistency, hard work and strong performance. Indeed, as EmployBridge's latest Voice of the Blue-Collar Worker Survey found, which polled approximately 19,500 employees in a variety of industries, over 40% of respondents said they expect to be rewarded for good performance through raises.

But as an increasing number of employers are proving — as well as go-getter truckers, many of whom have recently obtained their commercial driver's licenses — six-figure salaries are a reality for many drivers.

From retailers to logistics firms, multinational, large and midsize companies are ratcheting up starting pay for truck drivers. This includes the world's largest employer. In April, retail giant Walmart revealed that it was boosting pay not just for the 12,000 truckers on the payroll, but also for those who go through the company's newly launched training program. As Walmart spokesperson Anne Hatfield told USA Today, the starting pay for drivers who complete the training and are hired will range between $95,000 and $100,000.

"These latest investments mean Walmart drivers can now make up to $110,000 in their first year with the company," wrote Walmart's Fernando Cortes and Karisa Sprague, who helm the transportation and supply chain department for the big box retailer, in a recent blog post. "And that's just a start — drivers who have been with Walmart longer can earn even more, based on factors like tenure and location."

Nonprofit organizations are also getting involved in the push to persuade more people to consider trucking for a living. This includes ex-convicts trying to find steady employment after being released from prison. According to FreeThink, the nonprofit FreeWorld specializes in helping men and women who were tried and convicted of crimes become truck drivers. Several students who have gone to the nonprofit for driver training and job search purposes have wound up with jobs paying annual salaries as high as $120,000. Some of these salaries started out in six-figure territory.

Increasing pay can yield savings, study says
Paying drivers more is proving to be a smart business decision as well, because employers ultimately wind up spending less. As a recent study conducted by the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee found, a 6% increase in pay — which averages out to around $2,836 more per year — costs less than it does to replace workers who leave their jobs. Onboarding new drivers costs employers an average of $3,600.

Entering the trucking field — and employers competitively compensating those who do — is proving to be a win-win situation for truckers and business owners. For more insights from the Voice of The Blue-Collar Worker Survey, please download the free report.

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