CDL Drivers are always in high demand. The trucking industry moved 10.93 billion tons of freight in 2021 and there are over 1,4M truck drivers in the US. There are a lot of moving parts in trucking and lots of career opportunities.
As outlined in our post on the CDL HAZMAT endorsement, getting your HAZMAT endorsement is a great way for you to open lots of new opportunities, and also higher pay.
So what are the highest-paying HAZMAT jobs?
Highest Paying HAZMAT Jobs
An option available to all CDL drivers is getting a tanker endorsement. This endorsement is necessary for drivers to transport liquids and most gasses. One of the most common goods for HAZMAT drivers to transport is gasoline and propylene.
Driving a tanker is much different than a standard truck. The liquid in the tank moves every time you turn and if a turn is taken too hard the liquid can off-balance the truck. It will take some getting used to, but the tanker endorsement will help you know what you need to know.
Combining your new HAZMAT endorsement with a tanker endorsement will push you even higher up the pay scale.
Team drivers are the fastest of any fleet. Team drivers can drive for longer periods of time, and in some cases can half the transportation time.
Team driving can also be a solution to being away from home for so long. Some families decide to do team driving together. Husband and wife teams are much more common than you’d imagine!
Team drivers on average are paid much more than solo drivers, and team drivers that transport HAZMAT can make up to 4 times more than regular CDL drivers.
Crude Oil Transportation—$72-95k/yr
Crude oil is a very important part of America’s infrastructure. Companies will pay well to make sure it is transported safely. That being said, getting a job transporting crude oil may require a couple of years of safe driving.
What’s great about this job is it’s not much different from most HAZMAT tanker jobs. You’re required to keep logs, inspect your vehicle, etc. Nothing out of the ordinary.
It is important to note that this high-paying HAZMAT job does require a tanker endorsement.
When starting your CDL career, it’s important to remember that you won't be making as much money as seasoned drivers. Nothing beats experience when it comes to securing a higher-paying job. However, other factors could increase your pay. How far is the trip? Is the job for a private fleet?
Driving longer distances will get you higher pay. The longest-distance trucking jobs are called Over the Road (OTR) jobs. Often these jobs require multiple weeks away from home at a time and allow drivers to travel all over the country. They can expect to be home 1 day for every week away.
Regional jobs are locked to specific regions such as southwestern America. They won't be driving coast to coast, but they will be spending a lot of time on the road.
Local jobs are the shortest of the three. These jobs are typically routine routes to and from job sites. These jobs pay the least but allow for more time at home. Most local jobs don’t require overnights, but you can expect 10+ hour shifts.
Private vs. Common
Private fleets are fleets made up of drivers who transport goods for a specific retailer or manufacturer. One of the largest private fleets in America is PepsiCo.
Private fleets try their best to take care of their drivers. Boasting some of the best pay and benefits. This is why most private fleets require years of experience, but if you get a job with one of them you could be making over $100k a year.
Common fleets are much more… common. These fleets are contracted by manufacturers and retailers to transport their goods for them. One of the largest fleets in the country, knight-swift, is located in Phoenix Arizona, and has around 18,000 trucks.
While these fleets offer less pay and benefits, they're great for less experienced drivers to start growing.
Getting your HAZMAT Endorsement
Getting your HAZMAT endorsement is a great way to jumpstart your CDL career. If you want more information, check out our blog on CDL HAZMAT endorsements. Or, if you’re ready to take the next step to get your HAZMAT endorsement, sign up for our 4-week self-paced course.