The trucking industry is known for its razor-thin profit margins; when it comes to smaller trucking companies, this can lead to a struggle to keep the business afloat if an unforeseen expense is incurred. However, not all trucking companies have to operate on a shoestring – some of them aim for highly lucrative jobs that pay a lot more than your average long-haul trip. Anyone who pays attention to trucker news will know which jobs pay more, and why. It’s usually because they require more extensive licensing for the drivers, or because they involve more risk than usual. The drivers could also need specialized equipment or training, which would also justify higher rates. For many people, though, the reward is well worth any additional risks. After all, if someone’s going to join a highly competitive industry like trucking, they might as well get paid well for their efforts. With that in mind, these are some of the most profitable niches within the trucking industry.
The mining industry is a tough one, and this applies to truck drivers as well as the actual miners. Truckers who transport loads from mines typically drive gigantic dump trucks, which are often loaded from within the mines, then driven to their next destination. This is a perilous job, since the driver has to navigate cramped underground tunnels that have been propped up foot by foot with supporting structures. If they make a wrong move, it could trigger a tunnel collapse, and potentially result in injuries or fatalities. Even though this is extremely rare, it’s still a risk – which is why the job pays so well.
What happens if someone needs to transport their $500,000 car, but they don’t want to drive it? They call a specialty car hauler. This trucking job essentially provides VIP transport services for exceptionally expensive cars; it requires expertise, care, and a gentle touch for every move. No extra licensing is needed, but these drivers will probably get additional training. After all, with a luxury vehicle on the line, it’s important that the person handling it knows exactly what they’re doing.
Everyone’s gotten stuck behind one of these at some point, whether it’s a wind turbine part, a massive piece of construction equipment, or even a section of a house. While it can result in a tricky few minutes navigating around the wide load, just imagine the skill it would take to drive the rig for miles and miles along the highway. Oversized loads can present fairly complex logistical issues, and can’t be driven like a regular semi trailer. For this reason, drivers of oversized loads tend to make more money than the average trucker.
This is one of the riskiest trucking jobs out there, simply because hazardous loads can be so dangerous if mishandled. All it takes is a wrong move, a bad decision, or even an unlucky accident, and the driver (as well as anyone else who happens to be nearby) could be seriously injured or even killed. Some materials are hazardous because they’re flammable or explosive; others because they’re caustic, and can cause severe chemical burns upon contact or inhalation. This is why hauling hazmats may require additional licensing, such as a TWIC card. Because of the cost of getting a TWIC card, the skill required, and the general risks involved, hazmat hauling is one of the highest-paying jobs in trucking.
Again, anyone who’s willing to take the risk will reap the reward. In the case of ice road trucking, the biggest risk is caused by external weather conditions rather than the nature of the load that’s being hauled. This makes the job especially unpredictable; the most common risks include poor road conditions, excessive winter storms, and extreme temperatures. All of these things put extra strain on the vehicles as well as the drivers, which increases the chances of equipment malfunction and/or accidents. Even so, the popular TV show about ice road trucking has made this niche more appealing, and much harder to get into for the time being.
Companies like Walmart operate their own trucking fleets, and they pay the people who qualify to work as their drivers quite well. However, with high pay comes high expectations. Not only are drivers expected to have clean driving and criminal records, but they also have to stick to strict standards and deadlines.
What high-paying trucking jobs have in common
If you’re trying to figure out which loads pay the most, keep an eye out for jobs that require any of the following things.
Some drivers are expected to relocate for the job, and they could end up in remote areas (potentially where the cost of living is higher than average). You may be getting paid more for the inconvenience of living in the middle of nowhere, or it could just be to make up for the higher cost of living.
It’s the old chicken-and-egg conundrum – you need a job to get experience, but you need experience to get a job. However, the higher-paying trucking jobs do typically require a level of skill that only experience can bring. You may still be able to find an especially lucrative trucking job with little experience, but it’ll be an uphill battle.
This one should be self-explanatory – trucking companies don’t want to pay a lot of money to someone who’s more likely to cost them money.
If a driving job requires you to put yourself at more risk than usual, you’ll probably get paid more; it’s as simple as that.
High-paying jobs may require additional training or licensing, both of which cost money. If you’ve invested in your skillset as a trucker, you’ll be able to get higher rates of pay.
Making money in the trucking industry isn’t always a given, but there are certain niches that will help you make the big bucks.