Why did you get into the trucking business?
If you’re like many other truckers out there, you probably took this job because you love driving and the freedom it offers. You may even have aspirations to eventually lease your own truck.
But what if you’re tired of being on the road all of the time? What if you take your income potential into your own hands?
There’s an alternative option that many truckers are moving to: driving for Uber. It offers the joy of driving, the freedom of choosing your own hours and schedule, and the opportunity to run your own business.
Some truckers are asking: should I drive for Uber or continue truck driving?
Many have, and they’re happy they did. But before you take the dive, it’s important to figure out how much you can make and whether it’s worth making the transition.
As the industry continues to change, we were contacted by a handful of former OTR drivers who had switched to driving for Uber. We wanted to educate our audience on the earnings potential in this “alternative driving careers” to help you find another way to keep driving and keep earning.
How Much Does an Uber Driver Make?
Can you make as much money driving for Uber as you would driving for a trucking company? Maybe. Maybe not.
Uber driver pay will depend on your location. And let’s not forget that Uber will take a cut of your earnings. That is, after all, how they make their money. Uber’s commission can be quite hefty. In New York, for example, Uber takes:
- 20% on UberX fares
- 25% on UberBlack fares
- 29% on UberSUV fares
Keep in mind that these fees can change at any time.
Let’s go back to your location because that’s what will have the biggest impact on your earnings. Uber has its own calculator that can estimate how much drivers can earn in their first 150 trips based on their location. Let’s compare the earnings of a few major metro areas and smaller cities.
- New York City Suburbs, NY: $1,150
- Chicago, IL: $2,500
- Asheville, NC: $1,000
- Salt Lake City, UT: $1,000
- Los Angeles, CA: $1,600
- Corpus Christi, TX: $1,100
- Boise, ID: $1,000
- Fort Wayne, IN: $1,000
- San Diego, CA: $1,900
- Toledo, OH: $1,000
- Anchorage, AK: $1,250
As you can see, the majority of drivers will earn about $1,000 in their first 150 trips, according to Uber’s calculator. That comes out to about $6.60 per ride. But let’s keep in mind that this is just an estimate, so you can easily earn more than this in your first 150 rides, especially if you have customers that request longer trips.
How long will it take you to get 150 rides? That really depends on your market. In major metro areas, it’s possible to get at least 15 fares in a night. That means that it would take you about 10 days to reach the 150-ride mark. In a little more than a week, you may be able to earn more or just as much as you would driving for a trucking company.
But I really want to stress that your earnings and the number of rides you can get will depend on your location and what’s going on in your area.
You’ll probably make more driving in Chicago than you would driving in Toledo. You’ll probably earn more on weekend evenings no matter where you are, and if there’s a local event or concert, you can expect to see a significant spike in your earnings.
As you can see, there are a lot of factors that will affect your income when driving for Uber. Just keep in mind that the fare calculation is based on distance and time. Uber also takes its cut from each fare.
Still, you want to see some hard figures for earnings.
Let’s look at data from salary sites to get a better idea of how much Uber drivers are making.
- Glassdoor: $15/hour; $33,000/year; $1,220 in bonuses
- Indeed: $32,561/year
These are average earnings based on reported salaries from drivers all over the country.
It’s possible to make decent money as an Uber driver, but again, it really depends on your location. If you live in the middle of nowhere, you probably won’t earn enough to even keep your car running.
Other Ways to Earn With Ride Share
Standard trip fare isn’t the only way to earn money with Uber.
Surge pricing can help Uber drivers earn more in a short amount of time. Let’s say that there’s a major concert in town. The show just ended. Suddenly, hundreds of people are requesting Uber rides.
Because of the high demand, fares increase to get more Uber drivers out there and ensure that everyone can get a ride.
Uber drivers can check the heat map to look specifically for areas with surge pricing, and target these areas to earn more.
Whenever surge pricing is in play, a multiplier (such as 1.8x or 2.5x) is added to the standard rates on the map. The multiplier is how much your base far will be multiplied by. So, if there’s a 2x Surge, rides that normally cost $10 would cost $20.
Taking advantage of Surge pricing can really boost your earning potential as an Uber driver, but there may be some weeks where there are no hotspot areas nearby.
Some Uber drivers also make deliveries. They earn flat amounts for pick-up, drop-off and how far they travel. The time it takes to make the delivery and traffic will be taken into consideration as well.
And just like with regular Uber driving, you can earn more during busy times when there’s a higher demand for deliveries. Delivery drivers may also receive tips from customers.
As you can see, it’s possible to earn a decent living as an Uber driver. And you get to enjoy being home with your family every single night – or whenever you please.
How Do Uber Drivers Get Paid?
Uber drivers receive a weekly statement for each week they provide rides or receive referral commissions. These statements are sent via email and usually on a Tuesday.
Drivers are also paid every week via direct deposit on either Wednesday or Thursday. Some drivers are eligible for Instant Pay, which allows them to be paid whenever they want. With Instant Pay, you can get paid daily.
How Uber Displays Your Pay
Uber actually provides you with several different types of pay statements.
- In-App: You can view your total pay for the week as well as your pay on a day-by-day basis.
- Email: Displays your daily pay.
- Website: Displays your pay for each fare, and has a section that details other forms of payment, such as reimbursements and bonuses.
The most detailed payment statement can be found on partners.uber.com, and it breaks down your payment line-by-line, piece-by-piece and fare-by-fare, including:
- Uber’s fee
- Wait time
- Rider fee payment and deduction
- Long pickup fee
- Cancellation fee
- Other payments
- Total payout
In order to receive your money from Uber, you’ll need to have a bank account. Once your bank account is linked to your Uber account, you’ll be paid every week or daily with Instant Pay.
Can You Use a Truck for Uber?
Yes. Uber drivers can use trucks as long as they have four, independently operating passenger doors. There must be enough space for four passengers.
If you have a regular two-door pickup truck, you won’t be able to use this vehicle for Uber.
What if you’re an owner operator truck driver? Obviously, you won’t be able to use your rig to drive around passengers. But you can use your truck with the Uber Freight platform.
With the Uber Freight app, shippers list their needs, and you respond to them. You can also view price quotes based on carrier rates. Just accept the job, and get moving.
Once you’ve booked a load, the carrier will receive real-time updates on their shipment status, and you’ll be notified of any changes or additions the shipper requests.
So, with Uber, you really have multiple ways to make money on your own terms and on your own time.
Is Being an Uber Driver Worth It?
That depends on your goals and your personal preferences. Some truckers are happy they made the switch to driving for Uber. They enjoy the freedom of being able to make money wherever they want and whenever they want. Instead of being on the road for weeks at a time, they can be home with their families every day.
Depending on where you are and how often you work, your earnings could be the same or more than if you were working for a trucking company.
But because your earnings will depend solely on your location, you’ll need to do some research to see if driving for Uber is a viable option for you.
It’s important to remember that when you drive for Uber, you’re considered an independent contractor – not an employee. This means that you’ll be in charge of doing your taxes. Uber does not withhold taxes, so you need to be prepared to take on this responsibility.
If you enjoy driving, meeting new people and having the flexibility of earning as much – or as little – as you want, driving for Uber may be a good option for you.
Is There Any Chance Of Uber Disrupting The Freight Industry?
This is another reason we wanted to start focusing on alternative driving career options. As reported in The Business reported in The Business Journal, there are plenty of companies that need freight moved that do not have their own driving staff. This presents a unique opportunity for those with CDL permits and their own rigs.
You can price yourself into the Uber freight world. In a sense, it is a glorified load board but Uber Freight has a strict screening process and are more transparent with tracking and delivery times for their customers. We will feature more news on the role of Uber Freight later this year.