The Truth About Trucking Company Sign-On Bonuses that You Need to Know

Sign-on bonuses are found nearly everywhere in the trucking industry, $2,000, $8,000, $10,000…these are some of the most common sizes of sign-on bonuses you will see offered by trucking companies today. Almost every carrier in the US is offering some sort of sign-on bonus to new hires. Yes, it would be wonderful to get that kind of lump sum promised to you before you earn your first paycheck on a trucking job. But are sign-on bonuses all that and a bag of chips or is there something more going on here? Find out why sign-on bonuses are a very real deal and why carriers are expected to continue to offer these in the future.

Why Offer Such a Bonus

Truck Driver Sign-On BonusesThe first questions that most new truckers have regarding sign-on bonuses are:

  1. Why are trucking companies offering such big bonuses?, and
  2. What is the hidden agenda behind these bonuses? 

Giving new truck drivers just starting out at a company enough money for a down payment on their own big rig sounds fishy. The truth is these sign-on bonuses are legit and truckers do receive this money, but more about that later.

First, the reason why trucking companies offer these bonuses is to attract new drivers plain and simple. It is part of their job recruitment strategy. The trucking industry is in dire straits to find drivers to fill positions, namely due to the age demographics of the existing job pool:

  • The median age of truck drivers among private carriers is 52, according to the American Transportation Research Institute.
  • Within the next decade, 30 percent of the trucking job pool will be entering their 60s and preparing to retire.
  • Currently, 10 percent of truck drivers are 65 and older, which means they are near the age of retirement and likely slowing down with freight hauling.
  • Sixteen percent of truckers are within the millennials age 25 to 34.

Here’s the deal. Millennials are the biggest age group of working adults in the world. They have surpassed baby boomers in job numbers, but not in the trucking industry. In fact, all signs indicate that millennials have no intentions of filling the seats left behind by retiring baby boomers.

What does this mean? According to the American Trucking Associations, it means the trucking industry was short 50,000 drivers in 2017; the shortage is expected to increase to 174,000 drivers in the next eight years.

What can trucking companies do to continue hauling freight in the wake of this driver shortage? Provide sign-on bonuses. By the way, trucking is not the first industry to use this approach to increase recruitment numbers. The US military has been offering sign-on bonuses to new recruits for decades, with great response rates.

Stretching Out that Sign-On Bonus

There is one drawback that truck drivers should be aware of with sign-on bonuses. Most of the time a driver will not be able to get a check with their full bonus immediately when they join a company. These bonuses are typically tied to performance goals, such as partial payouts when drivers haul a set number of miles.

The reason for this is simple. If trucking companies paid new truck drivers the full bonus right away, what would keep these drivers from going to other companies offering big bonuses? Nothing, which would defeat the purpose of the sign-on bonuses.

So as a new driver working for a company promising a sign-on bonus, play it smart by reading the fine print. Find out what the payout schedule is so you can stick to it and make sure you receive the full bonus amount.

Finding the Best Sign-On Bonuses

At, we work with trucking companies offering the best sign-on bonuses for new hires. Check out our truck driver job listings to see which trucking jobs and bonuses best suit your trucking career goals.

We also have a current listing of all the top trucking companies with a detailed company profile. This gives you the information you need for making a decision about where to apply for your next truck driving position.

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Last modified on Monday, 10 February 2020 15:37