For women who are interested in a career in trucking, there’s good news: there are many opportunities to earn a great living in this career. More women are choosing life on the road and a stable career that’s in high demand.
But with wage inequality being a major concern for women, many wonder how much they’ll earn as a driver. How much do women earn in trucking, and is there equal pay? Let’s find out.
Women have come a long way in the trucking industry. Today, female truck drivers comprise 13% of the driver workforce, according to Women in Trucking.
That’s an increase of more than 3% since 2019. And in 2019, women comprised 10% of the workforce, which was an increase of almost 30% compared to the year prior. That huge jump came after a big industry push to hire more women to help improve gender diversity and manage the capacity crunch of 2018.
The Women in Trucking (WIT) Index is used to benchmark and measure the percentage of female truck drivers in the industry.
The History of Women in Trucking
Although trucking has traditionally been viewed as a men’s profession, women have been playing a role in this industry from the start.
Many women contributed to the early days of the transportation industry. But one woman, in particular, stands out: Luella Bates.
Luella Bates has been credited as the first woman to get a commercial truck driver’s license. In 1918, she was one of 150 female drivers hired by Four Wheel Drive Auto Co. (FWD). At the time, the men were away at war. But work needed to carry on, and these women stepped in.
After the war, Bates took a different path from other women who returned home. She continued driving for FWD. In 1920, she took her first interstate tour.
Luella Bates would go on to become the face of female trucking.
Many other females have paved the way for women in the trucking industry, including:
- Della Reese. Before she was a singer and actor, she hauled produce from Detroit to Toledo. Reese found out that truckers made more than cab drivers, so she hopped on the opportunity to drive a truck.
- Before acting, Bea Arthur was a dispatcher and truck driver at North Carolina’s U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point during WWII.
- Lillie Elizabeth McGee Drennan became the first female in Texas to get a CDL. Drennan also ran Drennan Truck Line, which was the first truck fleet in Texas to be owned and operated by a woman. Despite the pushback, Drennan ran her fleet for 25 years.
- Adrisue “Bitsy” Gomez was the face of the feminist movement in the trucking industry during the 1970s. She created the Coalition of Women Truck Drivers, which fought against sexism and discrimination in trucking.
The percentage of women in trucking continues to grow, but these women helped make these opportunities possible.
While women are making more of the trucking workforce, many wonder how much they can earn as a female truck driver. Let’s look at how much women typically earn when working as a truck driver.
What is the Median Female Truck Drivers Salary?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for a heavy tractor-trailer truck driver is:
- $48,310 as of May 2021
That equates to about $23.23 per hour.
The best companies for female truck drivers may offer higher pay based on:
Along with their base salaries, truckers typically receive full benefits, paid vacation time and other perks.
For those who work in areas with a high cost of living, the pay may be significantly higher. It’s not uncommon for some drivers to earn $50,000+ per year in some locations. For example, in New York, the mean annual salary for truckers is $55,300. In Alaska, the mean annual salary is closer to $60,000.
Is There Equal Pay for Women in Trucking?
Women truckers don’t have to worry about equal pay. “Men earn more for the same job” does not apply in the trucking industry. The supply chain crisis has made the trucking industry look towards women to play a key role in transport.
You can find many sources, including the Women in Trucking President, explaining why women in trucking never need to worry about pay disparity.
The reasons include:
- Pay by mile
- Pay by load
- Pay by hour
Pay by the mile, load and hour are often standardized across a trucking fleet. However, women can also get a nice pay bump for being with the company for a long time, just like men do.
Most women come to the trucking industry because they know that they’ll make a good wage to help support their families.
Additionally, you never have to worry about your job being outsourced. Trucking is one of the only industries where you can’t outsource the work. Women find comfort in knowing that their career choice is one that will remain for decades to come.
Female truck drivers have helped fill the void in the trucking industry, and the percentage of women in trucking continues to rise. Plus, as you’ll see in the video posted earlier in this section, women are safer drivers. With such a focus on safety in the trucking industry, the demand for women has never been higher.
Advice for Women Entering the Trucking Industry
Women truck drivers are still not the norm, and while this is changing, you may not have many women to ask for advice about entering the industry. A few pieces of advice that can go a long way when entering trucking are:
- Ask for help. Women truckers are friendly, and it’s difficult to enter any new field when you don’t have experience aside from CDL school. If you need help, rely on dispatch and your coworkers to answer any questions you may have.
- Stay aware. Unfortunately, you need to be aware and safe at all times. You don’t want to pull over for the night in a dark area because you may be a target. Instead, always pull over in well-lit areas, such as truck stops, and take basic precautions, such as locking your doors.
- Find a fleet you love. You may love your job or hate it. But with such high demand in the trucking industry, there’s never a reason to stay with a trucking company you dislike. Go where you feel welcomed and comfortable.
- Don’t forget about scholarships and grants. If you haven’t attended school or a training program yet, it’s crucial to remember that there are grants and scholarships available to you. Female trucking organizations want to increase the number of women truck drivers, and you should ask any school you’re interested in if they have grants or scholarships available.
- Join organizations. You need a support system, and there are plenty of women trucking organizations that you can join. These organizations will help make the road feel less lonely and can provide you with guidance and support, too.
- Plan your trips. If you happen to join a trucking company that doesn’t have many women truck drivers, it’s time to impress them. One way to stand out is to plan your trips. You’ll want to plan out your route, where you’ll stop and also where you’ll park for the night. Planning will help you lower your risks of anything bad happening when you stop for the night.
- Embrace the solitude. One last tip is that the road can be very quiet and lonely. If you’re a person who needs someone around at all times, this may not be the career for you. Even people who love solitude will find that trucking can test them. Instead, one tip is to embrace solitude and find things that you love to do when you stop. Also, consider audiobooks to help you keep your sanity on the road.
Women in trucking earn a great salary, never have to worry about their wages being lower than their male counterparts and are in a career that is always in demand. If you’re considering entering a new career or are just tired of your current career, trucking may be a good fit for you.