Job Hopping for OTR Truck Drivers, Does It Pay?

by Great Plains Transport|
Job Hopping for OTR Truck Drivers: Does It Pay?

Does chasing a few more dollars or a couple more miles pay?

Let’s start by approaching this scenario from a financial standpoint.  After all, it’s typically money that motivates a driver to move to another company.

Scenario 1 – More Miles

Let’s say a new company promises more miles. How many more miles can you expect? Let’s say you are currently averaging 1500 miles per week. The new company promises 2500 per week. That’s a difference of at least 4000 miles per month. 

At an average of .45 cents per mile, that’s about $1,800 per month. For simplicity sake, we’re going to ignore taxes, over head, etc.

If you’re out of work for 2-3 weeks by changing jobs, you’re essentially losing $2000 or more from your current position. It’s going to take over a month to make that up and at least 2 months to start getting ahead. That’s only if you get the miles you were promised. 

What about the longevity bonus from your previous position? Most reputable trucking companies bonus .01 per mile that you’ve driven with the company every single year you’re with the company. For example, if you averaged 1500 miles per week for a year, that equals 78000 miles year one. That earns you a bonus of $780. So, if you add up the miles and pay, plus bonuses for the year, a driver should be able to make almost .47 per mile and almost $40000 before taxes. 

However, if you are getting 130000 miles per year with the new company and no bonuses, you’re making $58500 before taxes. That’s over18000 more per year or another $1500 per month. That alone makes all the difference.  If you can take a loss up front, you’re money ahead by the end of the year by over 40%. Even a 10% raise annually is worth it. 

More Miles = DO IT

Scenario 2 – Higher Pay

Let’s say the pay is .01 – .03 per mile more. What does that look like at a best-case scenario?

Let’s take overhead and taxes out of the equation for simplicity’s sake. If we average 2k miles per week at $.045 per mile, that equates to $46,800 annually.

If you make an additional .01 per mile, the difference is $1040 more per year and $0.03 equals $3120 more per year. So, the average is $2080 additional income per year. 

However, switching a position will take you out of the truck for around 2-3 weeks. Let’s figure 2 weeks. That’s a total loss of $1800 (@2000miles per week at $0.45 per mile).

Not to mention the annual bonus offered by most reputable companies is around $0.01 for every mile you’ve driven on the anniversary of your hire. For this example, after one year, you can expect to get $1040.Bottom line, if you leave for a few pennies, you’re more than likely going to lose at least $2840 out of the gate. However, your income will increase $2080, In other words, it’ll take more than a year to make up the loss.

A Few Pennies = DON’T DO IT

It makes sense that drivers are looking for the highest pay, the best benefits, and the most miles, however, over time, when recruiters are comparing one driver and the next and one has 21 jobs in three years vs. a few job-hops in the past, the driver that is most loyal is going to get the higher paying position and opportunity.

Bottom line, if you are getting decent miles and competitive pay, you’re much better off in the long run to stay with your current employer and start racking up annual bonuses!

If you think about it, you could earn up to $1040 every year, compounding bonuses. In year 5, with an average of only 2000 miles per week at 52 weeks per year, you’re getting a bonus check of $5200 plus your pay of $46,800 and you’re at $52,000.

At the end of the day, if you can get more miles, that’s where the money is. Nobody cares how much pay per mile you’re getting because a few pennies don’t matter compared to miles, miles, miles. 

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