Trucking is a tough job. The highways are crowded, fuel costs are climbing, overheads are high, and every mile under your wheels comes with a hefty bill both in time and money. All truckers work hard, but these days it’s essential to work smarter, too. Want to find the highest paying truck loads? Read on.
The average cost per mile (CPM) for truck operators shot up to over $1.80 in 2019, driven by soaring fuel and insurance costs. That’s a hike of over 17% since 2010 and a 7.7% increase over the average CPM in 2018. Now, more than ever, truckers need to maximize every load for peak profit.
Finding the highest paying freight loads and the best paying freight lanes is critical to maximizing your success — but not all loads are created equal, and some lanes pay less than others. The best-paying freight lanes make you more money, but they can also be the difference between long weekends on the road and Sunday dinners at home.
There are lots of factors that impact how much a job is worth. Here’s how to find the highest paying freight and the best paying loads for truckers.
What factors make for the best-paying loads?
Supply and demand — the volume of available loads and the number of trucks ready to move them — will always be a major part of pricing. But other factors can make one load pay better than others.
Any cargo that is more difficult or requires more skill, administration, or time than another is usually one of the best-paying loads. Many of the factors that make for a better-paying load include:
The type of freight
Refrigerated loads (also known as reefers) are better-paying loads than van freight. Flat-bed loads are good-paying loads because they’re usually heavier or larger cargo, and the driver often has to help secure and cover the load.
Dangerous goods, such as fuel, chemicals, or other unstable cargo, are better-paying as well. As training and equipment requirements increase, so does the pay for those high-paying truck loads.
Time constraints and speed
Time is money, and money is time. Urgent loads command a premium, so being willing and able to jump on a load that needs immediate attention can help you score the highest paying freight regularly.
Driving truck loads into congested or heavily built-up areas like downtown centers or central business districts is difficult, frustrating, time-consuming, and costly. The good news is, most businesses in these areas know that and price loads accordingly. On the flip side, remote destinations that most drivers avoid may also pay a higher cargo rate.
The size and weight of a truck load
Heavy-haul loads may require specialized operators, permits, or even heavy-duty equipment. Oversized loads and cargo over 80,000 pounds of gross weight will usually be a better-paying job.
How to find the highest-paying loads
To best way to find the highest paying loads for truckers is to find a large volume of loads on a quality load board. High-quality job boards have hundreds of thousands of loads in lanes spread throughout North America. They make it easier to get the most buck with your truck.
First, sign up for a load board online to find heavy haul loads. From there, set up your truck details, rate, billing info, and qualifications. Most will charge a small monthly fee. Once you’ve set up your account and carrier information online, you can start booking good-paying cargo loads immediately.
On Truckstop.com, for example, once you search for your load type and location, the board will display available loads ranked by the best-paying load in your area.
Use the filters to adjust for job and freight type, whether you want reefer, van, flat-bed, or even dangerous goods or heavy-hauling loads. Because you get detailed information, including destination, load type, and exact miles, you can calculate accurate rates per mile — and even negotiate to improve them.
By monitoring the truck-to-load ratio, the Truckstop.com Load Board can show your negotiation strength in any given area. If the number of loads is high and trucks low, negotiation strength is higher — giving the owner operator more chance to increase your pay.
You can screen and highlight high-quality brokers by reviewing feedback from other operators about a shipper or a broker. You can also leave your own feedback, including notes that help you manage your relationships with companies you work with regularly.
Because some load boards update in real-time, you can see jobs the moment they post online. Setting up alerts and monitoring the boards regularly will give you more opportunity to bid on and win better-paying hauls.
The best carriers use load boards to search out the cream of the cargo crop. Finding under-serviced lanes with good-paying loads or specialized cargo can help you stand out and maximize your return from the road.