Michigan CDL Truck Driver Salary Information
Michigan’s top industries are manufacturing vehicles and animal products, and a little known fact, the state is the third largest producer of Christmas trees in the country. In addition, Michigan produces furniture and military equipment.
When you think about all these products there is no way they can go anywhere or be sold to make money until a truck driver takes the products where they need to be. The possibilities are darn near endless for CMV drivers in the state of Michigan.
One of the most promising aspects about trucking driving jobs in the state of Michigan is that the need is increasing. Projections for the years 2014-2024 show America at a 6% increase but Michigan is twice that at 12%.
There are more than 53,000 truck drivers in Michigan and the average yearly salary is $43,010 (SOURCE). If you look at median wages (50% higher, 50% lower) Michigan isn’t overly impressive at $39,660 when compared to the overall U.S. at $41,340. However, when you take a look at individual cities, that’s where the median salaries look better (SOURCE):
- Battle Creek: $44,070
- Detroit: $42,730
- Grand Rapids: $41,700
- Saginaw: $41,480
- Ann Arbor: $39,540
- Lansing: $38,630
- Kalamazoo: $38,190
Battle Creek is home to the Kellogg’s Company and Detroit manufactures cars so it makes sense these would be the two highest paying cities for truck drivers.
Since Detroit is the “Motor City” let’s talk about a trucking job that involves cars. Vehicle transport aka car hauling is a type of trucking job that can be performed on a cross-country basis, regional, and sometimes even local routes. Even within the different types of driving there is a range of car transporting jobs. Some drivers work for dealers or manufacturers, others work for auctions, classic, or exotic car dealers.
A vehicle transport job is just like it sounds – the truck driver moves vehicles from one destination to another. Your cargo will most often consist of consumer cars and trucks. Car haulers are needed any time bulk loads of automobiles are moved from one place to another. You’ve no doubt seen these types of trucks on the highway carrying new cars to a dealership.
Since most wrecked cars end up in the junkyard, car haulers move new and used cars. There are also times when people need antique and exotic cars moved, but don’t want to take the risk of driving them cross-country. If you’re looking for a new challenge and love cars, this could be a good fit for you.
Deeper Dive Into Car Hauler Jobs
What are car hauler duties?
Besides driving from one place to another, you will probably need to learn how to inspect the cars before and after you transport them to ensure they are in the same pristine condition when they arrive, as they were when they left.
It also takes special skills to load a 7-10 car trailer and make sure everything is secure. Safety comes first in all driving jobs, and car hauling is no different. This is why companies don’t usually hire rookies to drive car haulers because they like at least a 2-year track record of CDL driving before they consider most applicants.
What are the requirements to become a car hauler?
In most vehicle transport positions, you need a Class A CDL, and maybe a few endorsements. It can’t hurt! Companies are often willing to train new drivers, but many prefer drivers who already have driving experience.
Company Jobs vs. Owner-Operator Auto Transport Jobs
Driving for a company is probably the best fit for drivers without much experience. Company based car hauler jobs usually offer competitive wages and benefits similar to other trucking jobs. Also ask about 401K, medical/dental/vision benefits, paid time off, holidays, and any other benefits you may need/want.
If you’re an owner-operator it’s possible to make good pay if you own your own rig and work a lot. However, when you’re talking strictly about car hauling jobs, owner-operators would be looking at a considerable expense buying their own equipment and starting a business.
As with other types of trucking, auto transport requires a certain set of skills. Be sure this is what you want to do before spending $250,000 on a truck and trailer.
What types of endorsements and training do car haulers need?
Drivers with a Class A CDL can pursue car hauler jobs without any additional endorsements although companies may give preference to candidates with experience towing or driving other types of trucks.
Michigan CDL License Information and Insights
You need a commercial driver’s license (CDL) if you operate a vehicle:
– With a gross vehicle weight rating of 26,001 pounds or more
– Towing a trailer or other vehicles with a GVWR of 10,001 pounds or more with a gross combination weight rating of 26,001 pounds or more
– Designed to transport 16 or more people (including the driver)
– Carrying hazardous materials in amounts requiring placarding
Drivers who are between 18 and 21 years of age and are a U.S. Citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident can operate a commercial vehicle but only in Michigan (intrastate). You must be at least 21 to operate a commercial vehicle across state lines (interstate) or to transport hazardous materials in amounts requiring placarding.
Applying For A CDL
When you’re ready to apply for your first CDL or Commercial Learner’s Permit (CLP) visit a Secretary of State office and present the following information:
– Social Security card
– Proof of Legal Presence in the U.S.
– If adding a hazmat endorsement you also need to show: Your Transportation Security Administration (TSA) background and fingerprint check approval and proof of U.S. Citizenship or Lawful Permanent Residence
You also need to have proof of the following:
– That you meet the driving record eligibility requirements
– You fulfill the medical and driver requirements
– You passed the appropriate vision and written tests
Once all that has been done then you can:
– Schedule your required CDL driving skills tests
– Pass the CDL driving skills tests
– Return to a branch office and pay the CDL licensing fees
Michigan Trucking in the News
This summer Michigan State Police concentrated special enforcement efforts on commercial vehicles. Each week starting at the end of June and continuing through August, the state police’s motor carrier officers focused on what they call “unsafe driver behaviors.”
Officers named the event “Summer of Semi Safe D,” the focus on tractor/trailers is due to an increase in the number of deaths involving commercial vehicles in 2016. According to the Michigan State Police (MSP) 72 percent of deadly accidents in 2016 involved a commercial motor vehicle. Following is the schedule they used, and notice the letters along the left spell “Safe D”:
– S: Speed, June 26-30
– A: Awareness (intersections, construction zones, lane use), July 10-14
– F: Fasten seat belts and following too close, July 24-28
– E: Education, Aug. 7-11
– D: Distracted driving, Aug. 21-25
“This enforcement effort is in response to what we saw on our roads in 2016, a 41 percent increase in deaths involving commercial vehicles,” said Capt. Michael A. Krumm of the MSP Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Division (CVED). “When it comes to commercial vehicle traffic, Michigan is one of the safest states in the Midwest, but the steep rise in deaths over the past year needed to be addressed.”
In addition to enforcement, motor carrier officers educated drivers on behaviors that can lead to accidents as well as providing information on the Trucker’s Against Trafficking program (SOURCE).