What are the most profitable trucking jobs in 2020?

Trucking can be a lucrative career. Drivers can make upwards of $60,000 a year, depending on their load type, mileage, licensing and experience. Whether you’re interested in joining the industry or are experienced and looking for new work, you probably want to know what the best driving jobs are.

Technology can help improve driver retention by allowing fleets to incentivize drivers. Image: Jim Allen/FreightWaves

Many of the highest-paying trucking jobs involve moving dangerous or difficult loads or navigating riskier terrain. Generally speaking, the more skill required to do a job, the higher it will pay. If you have the right experience and certifications, there are many valuable opportunities in the trucking business.

Here are nine of the highest-paying jobs in trucking you may consider.

1. Ice road trucking

Ice road truckers can earn between $30,000 and $40,000 in just three months, making them some of the highest-paid drivers there are. However, this impressive salary comes at a cost. Ice road trucking can be a dangerous job.

Image: Alex Debogorski

These truckers drive across frozen roads in northern Canada to deliver goods to miners in winter. Given the danger of these roads, the drivers who navigate them must be highly qualified. Different shipping companies have varied qualifications, but most truckers who apply for these positions don’t get the job.

If you do have the right qualifications and get hired, ice road trucking, although seasonal, can be notably lucrative.

2. Hazmat hauling

Image: Jim Allen/FreightWaves

Another more dangerous but profitable trucking job is hazmat hauling. Hazmat trucking involves transporting hazardous materials such as gases, flammable liquids or corrosive substances. These volatile loads require extra care to deliver safely, so drivers are compensated well.

If this is what you want to do, you’ll need hazmat endorsement on top of your CDL. This requires an application and passing a test, but many companies will pay for you to get certified since these drivers are in demand.

3. Tanker hauling

Liquids don’t have to be hazardous for you to get paid well for shipping them. While some tanker drivers do haul dangerous liquids, some deliver things like water or milk. A significant amount of any fluid can be difficult to transport, which is why tanker truckers earn $60,000 a year on average.

To drive a tanker truck, you’ll need one of two certifications: an N endorsement or an X endorsement. An N endorsement qualifies you to drive loads of 1,000 gallons or more. An X endorsement includes an N endorsement and a hazmat certification.

4. Oversized load hauling

Image: Jim Allen/FreightWaves

Another trucking job requiring additional certifications is oversized load hauling. These truckers deal with extra large loads, such as shipping heavy construction equipment or even small houses. Unsurprisingly, pulling these enormous payloads requires a high level of skill, which is why oversized load truckers get competitive pay.

Oversized load truckers make an average of more than $54,000 a year, and can even make six figures with the right experience, company and drive time.

5. Luxury car hauling

It stands to reason that the more expensive your cargo, the more it pays to deliver it. This is undoubtedly the case with luxury cars, as truckers transporting them can earn $100,000 annually under the right circumstances.

Image: Jim Allen/FreightWaves

Hauling expensive cars is an understandably meticulous job. While you don’t need any certifications to perform this job, you do need to have demonstrable skills. Companies will likely not hire you for this kind of trucking unless you have an impressive driving record.

6. Team driving

To shorten shipping times, many companies hire drivers in pairs. In team driving, one person takes the wheel while the other sleeps, allowing them to travel longer distances in shorter periods. These positions often pay more than solo jobs due to the higher mileage.

Image: Jim Allen/FreightWaves

Team driving jobs are widely available and offer competitive pay, but may not be ideal for everyone. The long stretches away from home may be unappealing. If you don’t get along well with your partner, it can be an unnecessarily stressful job.

If you don’t mind being in close quarters with others or being on the road a lot, team driving can be a profitable career.

7. Owner-operator jobs

Image: Jim Allen/FreightWaves

Although most truckers work directly for a larger trucking company, this isn’t the only way to make a living as a driver. Owner-operators own their trucks and trailers, instead of using equipment belonging to the company, and can either operate independently or lease to another company. This independence comes with higher expenses, but could also pay more.

Most owner-operators have been in the trucking business for several years before becoming independent. Owning your equipment means having to pay maintenance costs out of pocket, which may be an unattractive prospect to some drivers.

If you can handle the initial expenses, becoming an owner-operator can pay enough that maintenance becomes less of an issue.

8. Private fleets

Image: Jim Allen/FreightWaves

Many businesses use shipping services offered by trucking companies, but some large corporations hire their own drivers. Because they don’t have to pay shipping companies, these private fleets can often afford to pay their drivers a higher salary.

Not only are these jobs lucrative, but they’re also readily available. Walmart employs more truck drivers than any other company, with more than 8,000 truckers on its payroll. Private fleets often expect more out of their drivers, such as a cleaner driving record, but offer tempting pay.

9. Mining industry trucking

Image: Jim Allen/FreightWaves

Mining companies require talented drivers to take material such as coal safely out of the mines and up to the surface. Sudden movements or bumps could potentially lead to a collapse, so these jobs can be risky. Because of this, mining truck jobs tend to pay well, often falling just behind ice road truckers in terms of compensation for specific tasks.

Find the best driving job for you

Most of the best-paying trucking jobs involve danger or more challenging work. If you’re willing to take on the challenges, there are plenty of profitable positions available.