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Unbreaking Trucking

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7 High Paying Trucking Jobs and How to Get Them

Written by Lanefinder
April 26, 2022

If you’re getting into a career as challenging as trucking, why not push yourself to make the money that’s worth the sacrifice?

Fresh out of CDL school, you’ll have no choice but to run long haul and put in long hours until you have the experience to get some leverage in the job market. Usually, a year or two of OTR driving is enough to prove to the majority of companies that you’re a reliable, safe, and insurance-friendly driver to have on board.

Once you get there (or maybe you’re already there), you’ll be at a crossroads. Do you continue on the common path, or find niche specialties within trucking?

Of course, specializing and making more money isn’t the obvious, easy, or comfortable thing to do. It wouldn’t be so rewarding if it was. There are risks, dangers, and sacrifices involved that make most drivers unable or unwilling to do the job.

Still, if you’re looking for adventure, excitement, and a chance to do something that isn’t dry van line haul for years to come, these driving options might be for you. But remember, because the competition for these jobs can be high, you need to make sure you’re a top candidate if you wish to qualify.

Specialized jobs might be for you if:

  • You want to improve and learn specialized skills
  • You’re willing to take greater risks
  • You can work in remote areas or can relocate for work
  • You can take on liability and responsibility
  • You have a spotless driving record

If that sounds like you, the following specialized jobs could be the perfect fit (and challenge) you’re looking for.

1. Private Fleets

Though it varies from company to company, private fleets are known to pay higher than average truck driver salaries.

Many private fleets have higher expectations of their employees, as they directly represent the brand. Usually, you’ll be expected to have a clean driving record, no criminal history, and be able to conduct yourself to a higher standard.

Fleets such as Pepsi have over 10,000 tractors and can provide steady work with great benefits. Other big examples of private fleets are:

  • Sysco Corp. - 8,700+ tractors, 10,500+ trailers
  • Walmart - 7,400+ tractors, 58,000+ trailers
  • US Foods - 5,400+ tractors, 7,000+ trailers
See the top 100 private fleets in the country here.

2. Ice Road Trucking

Yearning for the grit and glory that comes with being an ice road trucker? Get in line, because this specialized category of jobs has lots of suitors. The upside? You can make up to $75,000 for just a few months of work. Pro tip: You can make even more if you can get a TV deal while you’re at it.

Ice road trucking is hard to get into - the demand is high and the supply of jobs is relatively low. Pair that with seasonality and the promise of a hefty paycheck and you can see why the job attracts its share of interest.

If you’re one of the few people to consider ice road trucking seriously, remember to seriously weigh the pros and cons. The risks and dangers associated with the position are not overblown.

This job is not for you if:

  • You love going fast - On the ice roads, get used to driving at an average speed of 15 mph.
  • You can’t stand the cold - Do I really need to elaborate on this?
  • Your greatest fear is polar bears - Nothing like two pitch-black eyes glaring at you through the snowstorm to let you know you’re screwed.

penguin image ”Lay low. When he pulls over, run for the trailer, grab the salmon, and clear out!

3. Tanker Trailer Work

If you’re willing to take on the risk of transporting hazardous (and sometimes explosive) materials, tanker work might be for you.

Getting your X endorsement and TWIC card, paired with a healthy driving record and a few years of verifiable experience will set you up for many of the liquid tanker jobs out there.

4. Oil Field Trucking

Frequently referred to as the most dangerous job in the trucking industry, oil field work certainly isn’t for the faint of heart.

Though the pay is usually very high, so are the risks. Hauling crude oil, refined oil, and other highly flammable liquids & gasses is, unsurprisingly, dangerous.

Oil field trucking can also require you to live on site for weeks at a time, but some drivers find the reward outweighs the risk & inconvenience. Oil field drivers can expect to make clost to or over $100,000 annually.

Texas is a well known hub for oil field work of all types, and can be a good place to start looking if you’re interested in this potentially lucrative specialization.

5. Hauling Specialty Cars

If hauling high value cargo sounds like your cup of tea, consider working for a specialty car hauler. The stakes are high and the cars are often rare, precious, and unique. One enclosed car trailer can be loaded with millions of dollars worth of rides.

This guy makes hauling cars look real glitzy.

If you’re a stickler for safety, and would trust yourself not to scuff Jay Leno's $12,000,000 1994 McLaren F1, then hauling beautiful rides might be for you!

6. Team Driving

For most drivers, team driving without an existing partner isn’t an option. If you’re in a position to share your truck with a CDL-wielding family member, friend, or partner, then driving teams could be your path to a fatter paycheck. Though the money is often appealing, the schedule for team driving can be hard to keep up with. Team driving requires around the clock driving, and though the double productivity often doubles the paycheck, it can also lead to burnout.

7. Owner Operator Jobs

If you have the guts to get into truck ownership, the sky's the limit. Running your own truck like a business can earn you a very good living.

It’s not surprising that taking on the extra costs, responsibilities, and liabilities of running and operating your own truck can bring in a lot more money. That’s the name of the game. Being a successful owner operator requires skills, investment, and gumption.

The truly bold can make money to fund your second truck, then third, and so on. At that point, you’ve got a small business going and potentially a business model that frees you from having to do the driving yourself. Keep in mind properly scaling a fleet is very challenging.

Rookie tip: Do not confuse being an owner operator with a lease purchase program - these are NOT the same. Lease purchase deals are often predatory and could leave you in a financially disadvantageous position. (That’s a fancy way of saying “BROKE”).

Find high paying jobs on Lanefinder

High paying and specialized jobs are out there, but they can be hard to find on conventional trucking job boards.

On Lanefinder, you can filter jobs by pay, trailer type, and much more to quickly narrow down your search to these specialized and lucrative opportunities.

If you’ve got a few years of tractor trailer experience under your belt and a good record, you should qualify for many of the high paying, specialized positions out there. You’re already a driver, so why not go for the best money possible?

Enter your ZIP and use the filters to find the highest paying specialized jobs in your area.

Stay safe!

Unbreaking Trucking

Inspiring insights for the ambitious driver.

Being able to overcome the challenges of the trucking industry is the key to your professional well-being as a CDL driver.

Staying on top of your game will help you make smarter choices, land better jobs, and have a clearer picture of where your career is heading.

We’re here to help you do just that.

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