An ice roader’s salary is determined by several factors: how much one makes per load and the length and distance of each trip. The average rate for an experienced “interstate” truck driver – someone who transports goods from coast to coast via large highways rather than transporting them shorter distances along regional roads or interstate routes – can be anywhere between $40,000 and $50,000 a year. However, because ice road truckers typically only work during the winter when no other viable transportation options are available in some areas, their annual salaries have been reported as low as $16,000 when working full-time in Canada or Alaska.
A person considering becoming an ice road trucker should know
An ice road trucker’s salary is relatively low compared with many other disciplines because drivers can only work during the winter when the rivers and roads covered by thick layers of ice are passable under heavy trucks. Ice road truckers typically work for three or four months until warmer weather melts the ice roads, rendering them impassible again.
Other factors that affect salary
Another factor that affects salary is job location. One does not need to reside in a place like Alaska year-round to be an ice road trucker – although it certainly helps – but one must live within driving distance of where they are employed. Most companies advertise their available positions by region rather than state, city, or large area. This means that an ice road trucker’s salary may be higher in one part of the country than another simply because living expenses are more expensive there.
The company an ice road trucker works for can also significantly affect their take-home pay. Some companies, like Nunasi, pay their drivers on a per-load basis; others pay by the hour; still, others use a combination of both types of payment. Company policy will dictate whether drivers receive additional compensation for driving after dark (when visibility is poorer and accidents are riskier), hauling cumbersome loads (which increases the chance of an accident occurring) or through hazardous weather conditions – factors that all play into determining what is considered to be an average ice road trucker salary.
As with most jobs, experience is a strong determinant of how much an ice road trucker will make. Highly experienced drivers who can successfully navigate the hazardous conditions of winter roads while delivering goods reliably may be able to negotiate for higher salaries or sign on with companies that pay more per load.
Dependence of salary
An ice road trucker’s salary also varies depending on the actual distance traveled and the weight of the loads they haul over frozen waterways. Some drive short distances between small towns, transport mainly fresh produce or other light items that have been packaged into boxes or crates, and receive very little compensation per trip due to government regulations that require employers to pay at least minimum wage even when it is impractical for their employees to operate.
Other ice road truckers transport cumbersome industrial equipment or supplies over very long distances, sometimes hauling loads of hundreds of thousands of pounds. If they can do this successfully, safely, and on schedule, their salaries will be much higher since it is the responsibility of the company to ensure that all necessary expenses are taken care of – including worker compensation in case an ice road trucker gets injured or killed while working.
The government regulates ice road truckers.
The government regulates ice road truckers’ pay for these reasons. Most duties require a commercial driver’s license, which requires passing written and practical tests before driving professionally.
Ice road drivers must also have experience driving some standard transmission vehicles, although automatic transmissions are allowed if they learn to operate them before applying for a license.
Work hours are also regulated by the government, which means that an ice road trucker’s salary is likely to be affected by how often they take breaks – mainly because most companies will not pay their employees during this time.
The actual process of becoming an ice road trucker
The actual process of becoming an ice road trucker varies slightly based on where one lives and what company they work for. Many drivers start in other positions, working at gas stations or fast-food restaurants while attending school full-time to save up enough money to pay tuition fees when the time comes. Other people may choose to live with relatives who own their own haulage business instead, gradually working there the way into more responsible positions within the company until they are ready to branch out on their own or go to work for another company.
Some companies require that all new employees live in a community where they will be hauling goods, if only because employers are typically required by law to cover their workers’ transportation costs between home and work at least once per week. Other companies may not have this requirement but might offer incentives for people who are willing to relocate closer to the ice road corridor – especially if there are no other options available within commuting distance.
Of course, many drivers find that it is simply more cost-effective to move into an apartment or house near where they plan on working rather than renting two separate properties for themselves and their family members (if any). This means having less time off since travel back home can’t be combined with a day’s work, but it also means being able to live in the same area as where they work and being home when their children go to school instead of having to commute.
The actual risk for ice road truckers
The actual risk for ice road truckers varies widely depending on what type of vehicle they are operating and how often they drive over the winter roads. There is always a chance that one may fall through into a freezing body of water or get stuck or lose control because the surface is not stable enough, though drivers who take frequent breaks tend to have fewer problems than those who do not, mainly if their employer provides them with proper equipment such as snow chains.
Technically speaking, large trucks should be equipped with rollover protection systems (ROPS) that can save their drivers’ lives in the event of a rollover. Still, there is no way for anyone to know if such safety equipment is installed and functional until something happens. Ice road truckers also run the risk of getting stuck between loads, which means not being able to work when they are supposed to be earning an ice road trucker salary, so it can vary from day to day what exactly goes into their job description.
In all cases, employers must take precautions when hiring ice road truckers by ensuring that they have proper insurance in place in case anything goes wrong.