Colorado is home to more than 27,000 truckers, and the demand for drivers continues to grow. But with a higher cost of living, many aspiring truckers in Colorado wonder whether this is a viable career.
How much do truck drivers earn in Colorado? What about owner-operators? Let’s look at average salaries for Colorado truckers and what factors affect pay rates.
How Much Does the Average Colorado Trucker Make?
Truck drivers in Colorado generally earn higher than the national average when it comes to salary. Like with any other state, pay rates will depend on several factors (more on that soon). Not surprisingly, salary data for drivers can vary quite a bit:
- Indeed says the average CO trucker earns $74,580 per year
- ZipRecruiter says drivers in the state earn $54,104 per year
- CareerExplorer says drivers earn a median salary of $49,500 per year
- Our driver surveys find a perfect balance of these numbers at $61,711 per year.
Salaries can range from as low as $35,000 per year to more than $82,000. These are the bottom and top earners, which account for just a small percentage of Colorado truckers.
4 Factors That Affect the Pay Rate for Colorado Truckers
There are several factors that affect trucker pay in Colorado, including but not limited to:
Some cities in CO pay more than others. Generally, areas with a higher cost of living will offer higher salaries, but there are some exceptions.
The highest paying cities in Colorado include:
- Loma: $62,812/year
- Denver: $61,650/year
- Keystone: $60,528/year
- Fort Collins: $59,492/year
- Aurora: $59,492/year
On the other hand, some cities pay far less. Some of the lowest-paying cities include:
- Iliff: $50,670/year
- Julesburg: $50,670/year
- Carr: $51,181/year
While cities like Denver or Loma will offer a higher salary for drivers, they will also come with a higher cost of living. That said, cities like these will always have demand for drivers, so job security is another benefit of working in them.
2. Driver Experience
Along with location, experience will also affect a trucker’s salary. Experienced drivers generally earn more than rookies or those with just a year of experience.
According to data from Indeed, drivers earn:
- $79,628/year with 6-9 years of experience
- $84,211/year with 10+ years of experience
Senior-level truckers in Colorado enjoy a much higher salary and an overall more comfortable life.
3. Route Type
Salaries for Colorado drivers will also depend on the type of route they are hired for: over-the-road (OTR), local or regional.
Generally, OTR drivers earn more because they spend more time away from home and on the road. They may have to drive through busy, challenging areas, like New York City or Los Angeles. Additionally, the risks are much higher because they are constantly on the road.
The difference between pay rates for OTR, regional and local drivers can be significant in some cases. Here’s what drivers may earn depending on their route type:
- OTR: $0.47-$0.51 per mile
- Local: $0.35-$0.48 per mile
- Regional: $0.43-$0.55 per mile
While the pay for local and regional drivers may be lower, they get more home time. For some drivers, being home more often means having a better work/life balance, which may be viewed as more valuable than a higher salary.
Local drivers are typically home daily, and regional drivers are home every week. OTR drivers are usually home every 2-3 weeks for just a few days.
Along with the factors above, a driver’s pay will also be affected by the company they work for. Some trucking companies pay more than others.
Trucking Companies in Colorado Hiring with the Highest Pay
Many trucking companies are hiring in Colorado, and you’ll have the opportunity to earn a good living driving for some of these larger-named fleets. Keep in mind that salary continues to rise in many areas as demand for CDL drivers remains high and fleets are trying to secure the supply chain.
A few of the companies paying the most for drivers (non-owner-operators) include:
- Walmart. The retailer remains one of the highest paying in the trucking industry, and salaries range from $61,000 – $111,000, with the average driver making just shy of $100,000.
- UPS. The United Postal Service is hiring, and you won’t be driving local routes. Instead, you’ll help deliver goods from one sorting facility to another or a major city hub. In this position, you can earn from $57,000 to $144,000, with most drivers making $98,000 a year.
- US Foods. Hauling opportunities with US Foods are some of the best in the state, with salaries ranging from $42,000 to $110,000 and the average driver earning $89,000 a year.
- Saia. Another major fleet looking for drivers is Saia. Positions pay between $61,000 and $114,000, with the average salary being $66,069.
Many other companies in the state are hiring, including Mclane Western, Transervice Logistics, Gi Trucking Company, Old Dominion Freight Lines, Dairy Farmers of America and many others.
Owner Operator Pay in Colorado
Trucking companies in Colorado hiring are also looking for owner-operators to help fill their ranks. Owner-operators are in charge of their business and will have to absorb a lot of costs that company drivers do not, such as maintenance, taxes and fuel.
However, being your own boss comes with the perk of making more money.
According to Indeed.com, Colorado owner-operators will earn $152,700+ per year, which is on par with the national average. Data from ZipRecruiter has drivers earning $169,000 per year, and some will earn as much as $293,500+.
Current owner-operator job listings have the following pay rate:
- In Denver, Colorado, one company is looking to contract with an owner-operator, with pay ranging from $5,000 to $10,000 per week.
- In Denver, Colorado, another company is paying $3,000 weekly to an owner-operator and also offers lease-to-own opportunities.
- In Redlands, Colorado, one company is paying $128,000 on average for solo drivers and $221,000 for team drivers.
ZipRecruiter lists some cities where you can expect to earn the most as a semi-truck owner operator, including:
- Keystone: $210,000/year
- Thornton: $202,800/year
- Lakewood: $199,000/year
- Grand Junction: $193,000/year
- Keenesburg: $189,800/year
Demand is high for owner-operators that own flatbeds and are willing to drive regionally. Team drivers are also in high demand and will help you maximize your earnings. Pay for these higher-paying positions can range from $3,400 – $4,000+ per week, so there’s plenty of money to be made.
Colorado truck drivers can earn a lot of money. Demand is high in the state, and the salary truck driver pay in Colorado is high for dependable, hard-working drivers.