Truck drivers are tasked with transporting goods from one location to another. Roughly 80% of what you see around you has touched a truck at some point. On average, truck drivers haul loads with a total weight exceeding 26,000 lbs and deliver goods intercity, often spanning several states. While a promising occupation, truck driving and auto hauling are not without dangers, necessitating good employee pay, benefits, as well as solid insurance coverage like workers’ compensation. Drivers typically drive long distances, secure cargo for transport, inspect trailers, maintain a log of working hours, report issues to dispatchers, and keep their equipment clean and functioning.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are close to two million truck driver jobs in the U.S. and growing at a 6% rate. But where are the best opportunities for truck drivers?
Our study at AdvisorSmith ranked 384 U.S. cities to determine the most attractive cities for heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers to pursue their careers in. We list the top 50 cities for truck drivers below, and we also break down the top small, midsize, and large cities for truck drivers.
Our analysis found that many of the best cities for truck drivers are small and midsize cities. Of the top 50 cities, 40% were midsize, 36% small, and 25% large cities. A majority of cities were located in the Midwest, where there is better access to move goods from hub to hub. Smaller cities won out in our study with 40 out of the top 50 cities having metro area populations under 500,000.
Top Cities for Heavy and Tractor-Trailer Truck Drivers by City Size
Thirty-eight of the top 50 best cities for heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers were small or midsize cities, but the small town atmosphere may not be ideal for everyone. In order to highlight this distinction in lifestyle preference, our study segments cities into different sizes based on population, listing the top 10 small (population under 150,000), midsize (population of 150,000-500,000), and large (greater than 500,000 population) cities for heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers.
Best Cities for Heavy and Tractor-Trailer Truck Drivers
1. Joplin, MO
Located in southwest Missouri, Joplin is right along historic Route 66 and was the top city in our study for best cities for truck drivers. Geographically, Joplin is the center of what is known as the Four State Area: Oklahoma, Kansas, Arkansas, and Missouri, and the aggregate population of neighboring counties is roughly 210,000 people, making Joplin the fifth largest metropolitan area in the state of Missouri. There are also a number of trucking lines, such as Contract Freighters, Inc (CFI), headquartered in Joplin, as the city is near the geographic and population centers of the nation. This makes Joplin a prime area for trucking jobs.
As a city that’s situated near main truck routes and even the railway, Joplin hosts 125% more jobs for truck drivers than the average number of jobs for the top 50 cities in our study and 336% more jobs for truck drivers than the average city. Truck drivers in Joplin also earn $42,060 per year and enjoy a cost of living that is 21% below the average.
2. Danville, IL
Danville is the #1 small city in our study for truck drivers. The city sits at the heart of a tri-city triangle, between Chicago, St. Louis, and Indianapolis, which are all major metropolises of the 3 states: Illinois, Missouri, and Indiana. Danville became a major industrial city in the 19th century due to major coal mining and still has its roots in manufacturing, retail trade, and transportation and warehousing, making up about 33% of its occupations. Sitting at the intersection of Illinois Route 1, US Route 136, and US Route 50, Danville is at the center of some of the most traveled trucking routes. Danville is also the center of at least 4 different railways: Norfolk Southern Railway, Beaverville and Southern Railroad, CSX Transportation, and Kankakee.
Truck drivers in Danville earn an average annual salary of $54,770 which is 20% more than the national average while the cost of living in Danville is 27.2% lower than the rest of the nation. Although the Danville metro population is only 76,806, the earning opportunity due to frequency of shipments around the area makes the city an attractive location for truckers, with Danville hosting 103% more trucking jobs than the average city.
3. Fayetteville, AR
Just east of Oklahoma City, Fayetteville sits right along the Interstate 49/US Route 71 and is the third largest city in Arkansas. Fayetteville is situated just 30 min from Bentonville, home of Walmart headquarters, making it an ideal location for truckers. The city is also home to the University of Arkansas and has the third best schools in the state. Just south of Fayetteville are Interstate 40 and 30, which are some of the busiest trucking routes in the US, with more than 8,500 trucks driving through these routes per day. Both highways connect runs straight through Memphis, TN; Nashville, TN; and south to Dallas, TX.
Fayetteville has almost 3 times more jobs for truck drivers compared to the U.S. average. On average, a truck driver in Fayetteville earns an annual salary of $48,790, which is 7% higher than the national average, and the cost of living is 13% below the average.
4. Odessa, TX
Odessa began as a city situated as a stopping point and cattle-shipping point on the Texas and Pacific Railway. It’s located just four hours west of the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. The city’s economy has been primarily driven by oil production; however, it has been diversifying and is becoming a growing logistics center. Odessa became a major distribution center for Family Dollar in 2003 and Coca-Cola in 2007. The city is one of the stops along Entrada al Pacifico or Trade Corridor 56, which serves as the route from the Pacific Ocean port of Topolobampo in the Mexican state of Sinaloa to Texas.
Odessa enjoys one of the lowest unemployment rates in the nation at 2.7%, which is a full 1% lower than the national average, and the city hosts 270% more jobs for truck drivers than the average city. Truck drivers earn an average of $48,010, 5% more than the national average, while the cost of living is 13% lower than the rest of the nation.
5. Morristown, TN
Morristown is situated along Interstate 40, Interstate 81, and Interstate 75 and is just east of Nashville. These 3 interstates all have more than 8,500 trucks per day along its route, making them one of the most dense trucking routes in the nation. The city enjoys easy access across four major cities: Louisville, KY; Nashville TN; Charlotte, NC; and Atlanta, GA, all within a four-hour drive. Additionally, construction and manufacturing make up nearly 35% of Morristown’s economy, leading to more import and export of materials for the industry within Morristown.
Morristown boasts 162% more jobs for truck drivers compared with the average U.S. city, and Morristown truck drivers earn an average of $50,180 per year, which is 10% higher than the national average. The city also enjoys an amazing cost of living that is 16% lower than the rest of the country.
Top 50 Cities for Heavy and Tractor-Trailer Truck Drivers
Below, we list the top cities for heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers. We include data on the total number of jobs, the number of jobs per capita, average annual salaries, and the cost of living.
|Rank||City||City Size||Average Annual Salary||Total Jobs||Location Quotient||Cost of Living|
|8||Terre Haute, IN||Midsize||$51,770||1,080||1.3||80|
|10||Wichita Falls, TX||Midsize||$48,930||920||1.3||77|
|13||Sioux City, IA||Midsize||$40,350||3,710||3.54||87|
|23||Cedar Rapids, IA||Midsize||$43,250||5,000||2.85||93|
|27||La Crosse, WI||Small||$50,450||1,500||1.6||91|
|33||El Paso, TX||Large||$45,350||5,910||1.56||83|
|35||Des Moines, IA||Large||$49,120||7,160||1.56||90|
|39||Fort Smith, AR||Midsize||$37,410||3,630||2.69||82|
|43||Green Bay, WI||Midsize||$44,440||4,780||2.2||92|
|44||Little Rock, AR||Large||$46,640||6,440||1.49||87|
AdvisorSmith’s study examined three key variables in determining the best cities for heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers to pursue their careers in.
1. Average annual salaries for heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers
We considered the average annual salary earned by truck drivers in each city in our study. The higher the average salary, the more highly we ranked a given metro area.
In 2018, the average annual salary for heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers in the U.S. was $45,570.
2. Density of jobs for heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers in each city
Heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers have a special set of skills that require post-secondary schooling and short-term on-the-job training. Given this, we ranked cities that have a higher concentration of jobs for truck drivers relative to the general worker population as more desirable. This density is represented by the location quotient in the BLS employment data.
In 2018, there were 1,800,330 heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers employed in the United States. The BLS predicts that employment for heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers will grow at a 6% pace over the 10-year period of 2016-2026, which is in line with the national job growth outlook.
3. Cost of living index for each city
We adjusted the salaries earned by heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers in each city by a cost of living multiplier. The cost of living, including necessities such as rent, transportation, and groceries, varies by city, so it is important to normalize the salaries so that the cities can be compared fairly. Cities with more affordable lifestyles were ranked more highly in our study.
 Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook
 Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment Statistics
 Sperling’s Best Places Cost of Living Index