The median tow truck driver salary varies greatly due to company, location, industry, experience and benefits.
In 2019, the average salary for a tow truck driver is $45,596. Hourly that would be right at $21.920/hour.
Tow Truck Driver Job Description
The official description for a tow truck operator is a professional driver who serves a variety of different functions of moving cars and trucks.
A large portion of income for towing driver comes straight from commissions — close to 40% on average.
With that said, $45,000 dollars a year to be a “professional operator” is a middle of the road number for those of us that take our careers seriously.
With high turnover, some companies will chew you up and spit you out when you complain and won’t even remember your name. That is the unfortunate reality we are faced with these days.
As a 36 year veteran of the towing industry, I feel that that wrecker operators are paid less today than when I started out in 1978 when factoring in inflation. Of course, many industries could state the same in the US.
For the responsibility and training neccessary to be a qualified operator, you would be better off with a different trucking industry- something like refrigerated trucking or Hazmat driving.
One major problem area is that towing company owners tend to take advantage of drivers by not having to pay overtime for the long hours you have to work to keep your job.
This industry is long overdue for a major investigation of the long hours you are forced to work, which is against all DOT rules and regulations.
Tow Truck Driver Certifications & Licenses
In order to be employed as a tow truck driver, most states DOT offices require you to have your commercial drivers license (Class A CDL license). This ensures that you as a tow operator, can safely handle and transport loads exceeding 10 tons.
Where Can You Be Employed
Most local municipalities such as police departments have to remove inoperable vehicles from an accident site in order to restore traffic flow. For that reason, almost all departments have a team of towing professionals and their own rigs. Another legal area that is good for employment are enforcing parking laws by removing illegally parked or abandoned vehicles. This is viewed as the lowest paying employers on average for tow drivers.
Moving up the pay scale, car dealerships normally pay about 15% more for wreckers. They either either sub-out to an owner-operator or keep their own tow truck drivers on staff to assist motorists with disabled vehicles to transport them to shops for repair.
The highest average pay for tow truck drivers is normally with auto mechanic shops.