cdl starting salary

Are you considering a career as a commercial truck driver? One of the most important factors to consider is the CDL starting salary. In this article, we’ll explore what you can expect to earn as a new CDL driver, factors that can impact your salary, and tips for maximizing your earning potential.

What is a CDL?

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A CDL, or Commercial Driver’s License, is a specialized license that allows drivers to operate commercial vehicles. This can include anything from large trucks to buses to delivery vehicles. To obtain a CDL, drivers must pass a series of tests that assess their knowledge and skills related to safe driving practices, vehicle operation, and transportation regulations.

What is the Starting Salary for CDL Drivers?

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The starting salary for CDL drivers can vary depending on a number of factors, including the type of vehicle they operate, the company they work for, and their experience level. According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for heavy truck and tractor-trailer drivers was $45,260 as of May 2020.

However, it’s important to note that this is just a median, and many drivers earn more or less than this amount. Some factors that can impact your starting salary as a CDL driver include:

  • The type of vehicle you operate
  • The industry you work in (e.g., long-haul trucking, delivery services, etc.)
  • The region of the country you work in
  • Your level of experience and training
  • The company you work for

Maximizing Your CDL Earning Potential

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If you’re interested in maximizing your earning potential as a CDL driver, there are a few things you can do:

  • Choose the right type of vehicle: Some types of commercial vehicles pay more than others. For example, drivers of hazardous materials (HazMat) or oversized loads may earn more than those who drive standard tractor-trailers.
  • Choose the right industry: Some industries pay more than others. For example, long-haul trucking may pay more than local delivery services.
  • Get additional certifications: Certifications such as a HazMat endorsement or a tanker endorsement can increase your earning potential.
  • Gain experience: As with any job, the more experience you have, the more you can expect to earn. Consider starting out with a smaller company or as a local driver to gain experience before pursuing higher-paying opportunities.
  • Consider owner-operator opportunities: Some drivers choose to purchase their own truck and become owner-operators. While this can come with additional expenses and responsibilities, it can also increase earning potential.


The CDL starting salary can vary depending on a number of factors. While the median salary for heavy truck and tractor-trailer drivers is around $45,000 per year, many drivers earn more or less than this amount. By choosing the right type of vehicle, industry, and certifications, gaining experience, and exploring owner-operator opportunities, you can maximize your earning potential as a CDL driver.