Tips & tools

How Much Does It Cost To Hire a Truck Driver?

The complexity of the question ‘How much does it cost to hire a truck driver?’ is that there’s no industry average due to a number of reasons. To further clarify, it's pertinent to recall the adage that 'each trucking company is unique'. The uniqueness is rooted in its management, staff, operations, business processes, culture, brand image, and company size, just to name a few.
As a matter of fact, there’s no unanimity on expenses associated with hiring CDL drivers because:

  • this information remains highly sensitive and not publicly available;
  • various players may either take into account or disregard the same cost components.
And surprisingly, even experienced recruiting leaders sometimes find it challenging to pinpoint precise cost estimations.

How Much Does It Cost To Hire a Truck Driver?

The sole study addressing this issue was conducted by the Upper Great Plains Transportation Institute. It states that the average cost of replacing a single semi-truck driver exceeds $8,000, serving as a sole benchmark for many transportation players. We should keep in mind that although this number isn’t the ultimate truth nowadays, it hasn’t decreased so far. From our experience with various fleets, depending on their size, reputation and job offer, the cost may range from $550 to $9,000 per qualified commercial driver.
Even carriers with similar specifics of doing business, fleet size and freight type can have a tremendous difference in their truck driver costs. And the spread is principally attributed to high driver turnover rate, which can reach the staggering 89% with large companies and 73% with smaller ones. Please note that the most recent churn data by the American Trucking Associations (ATA) dates back to Q4 2018.

Calculate Your True Cost-per-Hire (CPH)

Why would you want to calculate your Cost-per-Hire? It’s simple: if you can accurately do this, you should be able to adjust, manage and forecast it with a certain precision. Needless to say that effectively managing costs is crucial to an overall recruitment strategy as well as budget allocation and optimization.
Let’s try breaking the true truck driver Cost-per-Hire into some typical elements. Regardless of whether you have an in-house recruitment team, partner with a third party or use a hybrid model, you’re likely to spend money on the following categories.

Advertising and Acquisition Channels

These expenses include running and managing campaigns in acquisition channels of your choice: job boards, a dedicated hiring website, social media platforms, referral programs, marketing agency fees, etc.

Applicant Tracking System (ATS) Fees

Don’t rule out fees associated with the software, tools and features utilized for applicant management and tracking. Tenstreet and DriverReach are the best-known ATS providers in the industry, you’re welcome to peek into our article comparing both systems.

Recruiting Team Compensation Package

The salaries and benefits of everyone involved in your hiring process should be taken into account: talent acquisition specialists, application processors, recruiters, interviewers, etc.

Background Checks and Drug Tests

To verify the qualifications and integrity of your driver applicants you’ll need to pay for various background checks and drug tests.
Average Age of a Truck Driver

Training Costs for New Recruits

There’s a certain acclimation period before the driver becomes productive. Make sure you consider expenses related to initial training, orientation and onboarding programs for new recruits.

Regulatory Compliance

Compliance with industry regulations, such as renewing medical certificates and obtaining professional driving assessments, can add up to the total expenditure as well.

Miscellaneous Costs

These may include sign-on bonuses, travel expenses for candidates and all other recruitment expenses that don’t fall into the given categories.

Truck Driver Compensation Package

As a rule, it’s the truck driver salary and benefits that may constitute the most significant part. Indeed reports that in 2024 the average salary for truck drivers in the United States is around $7,500 per month while benefits can amount to 20-30% of the driver's base salary.

Turnover Costs

Finally, if a driver quits earlier than the employer is able to recover the above mentioned categories’ costs, finding and training a replacement requires a sizable additional investment.
Now that you have a bird’s-eye view of the hiring components, calculated your own truck driver cost should be straightforward. Just sum up all applicable expenses for a certain period of time and divide the amount by the number of drivers hired during this period. So are you satisfied with how your true driver replacement costs may look?

How to Reduce the Cost of Hiring Truck Drivers?

The most effective and beneficial way to reduce the hiring cost is minimizing turnover while reinforcing retention. We provide some valuable insights and share strategies in our article dedicated to driver churn.
Next, it’s paramount to integrate modern recruitment strategies and techniques as well as leverage acquisition channels that work for you. Over the years Leadgamp has developed a number of successful approaches in attracting, hiring and retaining CDL Class A drivers. We keep staying tuned to emerging trends and would be glad to bring our expertise to your recruitment table. Feel free to Get In Touch.
Also it’s a good idea to establish a training program for tractor-trailer drivers. Even if your monthly hiring need is low, you can supply recent grads to mid- and large-size transportation businesses. A great example is Walmart with their private fleet development program that allows drivers to earn their CDL license over the course of 12 weeks.
Ultimately, ensure continuous improvement of your operations by:

  • gaining actionable insights into recruitment processes with our Custom Dashboards
  • regularly collecting feedback from drivers to enhance retention
  • making data-driven adjustments to optimize your hiring efforts
To wrap it up, there doesn’t exist a one-size-fits-all answer to truck driver Cost-per-Hire due to the myriad of variables at play. Yet, through strategic planning, advanced data analytics, innovative recruitment and retention solutions, organizations can navigate their hiring expenses more effectively and recruit commercial drivers in a smarter way.