Trucking Companies in the U.S.: A Guide to Choosing Your Employer
If you’re considering a trucking career, you have many types of jobs and companies to choose from. Starting the process can be daunting.
How can I find a trucking company near me?
How do I know if a truck carrier is right for me?
What are some of the highest-revenue OTR companies anyway?
We answer these questions and more in this article.
How Many Trucking Companies are in the United States?
There are approximately 799,342 private carriers and 84,763 other interstate carriers in the U.S., or 928,647 carriers total. Those included in the “other interstate carriers” segment either didn’t specify their type of company or checked multiple boxes.
As of 2018, there were 36.9 million trucks registered for business use. Most carriers are small companies: 91.3% of companies have six or fewer trucks, and 97.4% have fewer than 20.
How Do I Choose the Right Trucking Company for Me?
There’s a known truck driver shortage across trucking companies of many sizes, from small independent carriers to mega carriers with huge fleets—meaning jobs are often plentiful. With this many companies in the country, choosing the right one for you could be hard. A few things to consider when choosing one are:
- If the trucking company has a hub near you
- Pay and benefits
- Work/life balance
- Company-paid training or training cost reimbursement
- Reputation and comments from current and former employees on sites like Glassdoor
Then, of course, there’s the “gut feeling.” When you go in for an interview, pay attention to how people behave and interact to determine if this is the place for you.
Which Companies Offer Company-Paid Training or Tuition Reimbursement?
The best way to determine if a company offers company-paid training or tuition reimbursement is through the company’s website. For either option, you likely need to sign a contract agreeing to work for the employer for a specific amount of time, so make sure you choose wisely.
What are the Largest Truckload Trucking Companies in the Country?
Below, we’ve listed 14 of the largest full truckload companies in the U.S. The ones on this list all offer over-the-road (OTR) positions, though some may also have regional and local options. Due to these trucking companies’ sizes, many may have trucking hub locations near you. Check their websites to verify.
The list was determined by the companies’ annual revenues. When possible, the information was obtained directly from the brands’ sites. Otherwise, Transport Topics was used for the data.
1. J.B. Hunt
J.B. Hunt focuses on customer and employee satisfaction, with discounted gym memberships and support for their workers’ mental health.
This company is headquarted in Lowell, Arkansas and has an annual revenue of approximately $9.2 billion.
Founded in 1935, this company focuses on safety, integrity, respect, and overall excellence. They also have sustainability and charitable initiatives.
This company is headquarted in Green Bay, Wisconsin and has an annual revenue of approximately $5 billion.
Knight Transportation believes drivers should be able to access a welcoming place to rest nearly everywhere your journey may take you. Their terminals not only have standard amenities like showers, but they also have free laundry, outdoor areas away from the work hubbub, and no-cost wifi.
This company is headquarted in Phoenix, Arizona and has an annual revenue of approximately $4.8 billion.
Rather than having company-owned vehicles, everyone who drives for Landstar is self-employed. They work directly with drivers and companies to arrange transport.
This company is headquarted in Jacksonville, Florida and has an annual revenue of approximately $4.1 billion.
Ryder was named one of America’s Best Employers by Forbes and the Most Valuable Employer for Military by CivilianJobs.com.
This company is headquarted in Cedar Rapids, Iowa and has an annual revenue of approximately $4 billion.
Werner is a global transportation company hiring both company drivers and owner-operators, allowing them to be one of the largest trucking companies in the United States.
This company is headquarted in Omaha, Nebraska and has an annual revenue of approximately $2.5 billion.
7. Prime Inc.
Prime Inc. promises 24 hours off for every seven days of work, thanks to their focus on work-family balance. They also provide personalized health and nutrition assistance for their drivers.
This company is headquarted in Springfield, Missouri and has an annual revenue of approximately $2.3 billion.
8. U.S. Xpress
U.S. Xpress prides itself on focusing on its employees before numbers. They also have environmental and safety initiatives.
This company is headquarted in Chattanooga, Tennessee and has an annual revenue of approximately $1.7 billion.
In the last several years, CRST has grown thanks to acquiring several other transportation companies. They hire new and experienced drivers, as well as contracting owner-operators.
This company is headquarted in Cedar Rapids, Iowa and has an annual revenue of approximately $1.6 billion.
Crete Carrier Corporation hires both company and owner-operators to drive for them. The top 50% of their OTR company drivers average more than $83,000 per year.
This company is headquarted in Lincoln, Nebraska and has an annual revenue of approximately $1.2 billion.
Ruan is a family-owned company with over 6,000 team members. They haul all sorts of freight, including liquids, hazardous materials, and medical supplies, among other important products.
This company is headquarted in Des Moines, Iowa and has an annual revenue of approximately $1 billion.
Covenant is a faith-based company. However, they hire people from all backgrounds and are committed to not pushing religious beliefs on their employees—they use this faith to implement their guiding principles of empathy, servanthood, and virtue (meaning integrity, honesty, and fairness).
This company is headquarted in Chattanooga, Tennessee and has an annual revenue of approximately $895 million.
Though called Heartland Express, the company has terminals throughout the country. If you’re returning to driving after a hiatus, they offer a two- to four-week paid refresher program to get you back on the road.
This company is headquarted in North Liberty, Iowa and has an annual revenue of approximately $597 million.
14. PAM Transport
PAM believes in treating employees fairly and vendors equitably. They hire experienced and inexperienced drivers alike, and they also help brand-new drivers find schools and pay their tuition.
This company is headquarted in Tontitown, Arkansas and has an annual revenue of approximately $514 million.
How to Choose a Trucking Company to Work For
The average nine-to-five worker spends nearly a quarter of their lives at work, but truck driving—in particular, over the road (OTR) or regional trucking—is rarely a job that only has you away from home for forty hours a week. Your trucking job may define your quality of life in many ways, so it’s essential to know what you’re getting into when choosing a trucking company to work for so you can feel better about the amount of time you spend on the job.
Read on to learn about what you should look for on company websites, ask during interviews, and think about while determining what trucking job to take.
How Much Does the Trucking Company Pay?
While pay is not the only factor to consider when searching for the best trucking companies, it’s certainly the top for many truckers. Here are some things to keep in mind about pay when considering not just the CPM or dollar amount offered:
- Look into how much the company’s drivers earn on average. Ask how they calculated the average so you can determine whether that is a representative salary for you.
- Are drivers paid an annual salary or per mile?
- How competitive are the wages compared to other companies offering similar routes and similar responsibilities?
- Does the company offer a weekly minimum pay?
- Are there certain activities you’re not paid for, such as loading or unloading time?
- Are there bonuses for driver safety, certain mileage, healthy behaviors, or fuel efficiency?
- Decide whether you want to be a solo or team driver. You may be able to earn more as a team driver because you’re paid for the combined mileage. Some companies even pay team drivers more per mile as an incentive.
What Kind of Benefits Does the Trucking Company Offer?
Closely related to pay, consider benefits. Ask a hiring manager or recruiter about the kind of benefits package the company offers its employees:
- Are you guaranteed paid time off or vacation days?
- Is a 401(k) package offered?
- What does the health coverage comprise? Does it cover your and your family’s needs? How much of the employee contribution to premiums do they pay?
- Are dental and vision insurance included in the health insurance plan? What about life insurance policies?
Determine how competitive the benefits are and which ones are most important to you.
What Type of Equipment Does the Company Offer Drivers?
Equipment can greatly impact a driver’s quality of life on the road, so consider how reliable and comfortable the company’s trucks are.
Equipment is a high priority for truck drivers. According to the 2020 Driver Recruiting and Retention Annual Report by the Professional Driver Agency and Conversion Interactive Agency, 30.9% of drivers consider equipment their top concern when choosing a job or trucking company.
A poor truck can hurt you in more than one way. A broken-down truck keep you from completing your route on-time and getting your miles. One with old features may simply be more challenging to drive. In addition, most drivers make the trucks their home while on the road instead of checking into hotels, so the truck’s interior amenities can be just as important as its functioning.
Consider the following when browsing trucking companies’ equipment:
- How new and functional are the trucks? Do they constantly break down and are in need of repairs, or do they run smoothly?
- What is the sleeping situation inside the truck? Is there a comfortable sleeper berth?
- What kind of amenities are offered?
- Do the trucks have a built-in fridge, microwave, or cooler? What about a mounted television?
- Is there heating and air conditioning powered by an auxiliary power unit or inverter that is separate from the truck’s engine?
- Does the truck have a built-in toilet? If not, does the company allow drivers to bring a portable toilet?
- Is the interior modern-looking and new? Is there a place to kick back and relax or eat comfortably when you’re off the clock?
- Is a CB radio provided, or do you need to purchase one yourself?
- Does the truck come equipped with extras like Sirius satellite radio or DirecTV? Do you pay for these subscriptions or does the company?
Does the Company Offer Paid Training or Tuition Reimbursement?
In either situation, the company will likely require you to sign a contract agreeing to work with them for a minimum amount of time. So, while paid training and reimbursement are attractive incentives, make sure they’re offered by a company you want to be with for the long haul.
How Does the Trucking Company Support Those Who Want New Endorsements?
Obtaining endorsements may help open you up to more truck driving opportunities—possibly expanding your career and earning potential.
Take into consideration how the trucking company helps drivers add endorsements to their CDLs. Does the company’s paid CDL training include endorsements, or will they help you obtain them if they already employ you? And what kind of endorsements are offered?
Does the Time Home from Work Meet Your Needs?
The kind of driving you do determines how often you’re home.
Think about how much time you want to be home, and check the company’s website for specific details regarding time off.
Would You Be Employed by the Company or as an Independent Contractor?
Deciding whether to work as a staff employee or independent contractor is ultimately up to you. Both career options have advantages and disadvantages, so do your research to determine which suits your lifestyle and needs best.
- Often receive far greater protections and benefits like a 401(k), health insurance, and overtime pay
- Have steadier income and job security
- Don’t pay truck maintenance costs
- Usually pay commuter costs
- May have less time at home
- Lack of flexibility and freedom in schedule
- Have a more flexible schedule
- Can choose their equipment
- Enjoy some freedom in where and who they work for
- Deal with unreliable income
- Lack benefits and protections
- Are responsible for truck maintenance
Not all independent contractors are owner-operators, but all owner-operators are independent contractors. Being an owner-operator comes with slightly more advantages than a regular independent contractor. You may be able to earn more as an owner-operator since most truck driver employees have a set mileage rate and may have their pay increases capped.
Can You Bring Guests or Pets in Your Truck?
While not important to everyone, some drivers may be interested in bringing their spouse or children along on trips. This may be especially relevant for parents with custody agreements.
Other drivers may want to bring their pets along on journeys to keep them company. If having a companion is important to you, see if the company provides these options to their drivers.
How Large is the Trucking Company?
Fleet size matters, so determine whether you’d prefer to work for a large or small operation.
Small trucking companies:
- May have an owner you can communicate with directly
- Could have better than average equipment
- Generally involve lower overhead expenses, which may translate to greater pay for drivers
Large trucking companies:
- Could have more diverse work opportunities
- Possibly offer better health benefits
- May have repair shops or relationships with chain repair shops
- Often have reduced-cost lodging agreements with hotel chains
- Might make it easier to schedule time off
- Owner and executive staff may not be accessible
- Often have fewer opportunities for recognition
What Are the Trucking Company’s Values?
See if the company’s mission and values align with your own. You can usually find this information on the homepage of the company website.
You may also want to check if their mission statement reflects a commitment to employee wellbeing and work-life balance. This may suggest how the company treats its staff.
Many companies’ cultures are faith-based. Decide whether you’re comfortable working for a company with a religious element. Faith is usually just part of the company’s platform or principles and cannot affect its hiring practices, and employers with cultures that are faith-based don’t require employees to sign “morality clauses.”
Does the Trucking Company Seem to Care About Employees’ Wellbeing?
Research how a specific company supports its workers. Consider the following in terms of employee wellbeing:
- Is mental health assistance provided?
- Substance abuse is a huge issue for commercial truck drivers. Understanding how supportive a company is in helping its drivers get treatment is important.
- Are gym memberships offered?
- How does the company handle grievances, illnesses, and family emergencies?
- Some trucking companies offer incentives to their drivers who engage in positive health practices on the road.
How Tolerant is the Trucking Company of Different Viewpoints and Backgrounds?
The trucking profession is quite diverse, but some companies are better at recruiting a wide range of backgrounds, including gender, religion, and race and ethnicity. For truckers who believe this is important:
- Observe if the company actively recruits people from different backgrounds.
- Pay attention to news stories on trucking companies and see if any have discriminated against truckers because of race, religion, gender, or sexuality.
- See if there are news items or social media posts about how trucking companies treat employees who express their individual political views—including outside of work hours.
Even if you’re not from a diverse group, this can still give you an idea of the company’s values and how it views its employees.
Check Out How Long Truck Drivers Stay With the Company
Truck driver retention rates are an ongoing issue. While many truckers are in the field for a long time, large and small carriers may struggle with driver turnover due to the nature of the job because of long hours, too much time away from home, and sometimes the demanding physical labor. Because the job itself is challenging, even a company that treats its truck drivers well may see high turnover..
However, if drivers leave a specific carrier at higher rates than average, it’s probably not a good sign. Truck drivers quit for several other reasons, including bad equipment, lack of communication or personal connection, scheduling conflicts, and poor pay.
If you notice a lot of turnover at a company, this could mean the truckers don’t feel like their voices are heard. Again, check sites like Glassdoor and even Reddit to see what people are saying.
Read Reviews by Trucking Company Employees
Consult employee reviews on sites like Glassdoor and Indeed. Try to find “middle of the road” reviews as they may paint the most accurate picture of the company. Extremely negative feedback could be written by disgruntled employees who are mad for reasons having to do with their own performance. Extremely positive reviews may be fake.