How to Find the Highest Paying Truck Loads

How to Find the Highest Paying Truck Loads

A truck drives into the sunset.As a carrier, you need to do everything you can to make a profit. That means finding quality loads from trustworthy business partners. After all, fuel costs are high, overheads are up, and driver wages are rising due to the ongoing labor shortage. That’s a lot of expenses that quickly add up, so you need to make sure you have as much money coming in as possible when delivering loads.

However, doing business with high-paying brokers is easier said than done. Not only do you need to find loads that meet your requirements, but you also have to negotiate prices and find quality partners.

Feeling a little lost? Don’t panic! We’re going to go over what makes a higher paying load, how to find them, and how to create incredible bids so you can make the most profit for every trip.

What factors make for the best paying loads?

One broker might offer a higher-than-average rate for a route, but that doesn’t mean they’ll always pay such high prices on every route or load. So, instead of thinking about things from the perspective of what brokers pay the most, it’s worth considering lanes on an individual basis in order to find the highest paying freight. After all, the price a broker or shipper is willing to pay generally depends on a few factors including:

Supply and demand

Trucking is a business, which means supply and demand can significantly impact the prices you see and can negotiate. A broker or shipper will be willing to shell out more money for loads along lanes with lots of volume but not enough drivers. On the other hand, if there are more carriers than available loads, shippers and brokers will have all the negotiating power, meaning they can generally get away with paying less since transportation trucking companies are clamoring for business on those lanes.

Freight type

Freight type can also affect rates from the business partners. So, if you’re after the best paying truck driving jobs, you’ll likely need to haul cargo that requires more skill or time.

For example, refrigerated loads (a.k.a. reefers) will generally earn more money than van freight because they require a specialized truck. Similarly, flatbed loads often have higher rates because they are heavier or larger than the average load. On top of that, flatbed loads are generally less aerodynamic, meaning carriers will need to spend more on fuel. Plus, the driver usually needs to secure and cover the shipment, which takes time and energy. Fuel, chemicals, and other dangerous or unstable cargo loads also command higher rates due to the dangers and additional training and equipment requirements drivers face.

It’s worth noting that some of this specialized freight also comes with higher costs for the carrier, meaning that while the rate may be higher, the net earnings may turn out to be the same as with other freight.

Load size and weight

In a similar vein, loads that are extremely large or heavy often require specialized permits, operator training, or heavy-duty equipment, meaning brokers and shippers offer more money. Specifically, when you take on oversized loads or cargo weighing over 80,000 pounds, you can say hello to much better pay. Again, keep in mind that delivering these larger loads typically also comes with higher costs, so make sure to keep net earnings in mind when picking freight opportunities.


Location doesn’t just matter for the real estate industry — it’s also an essential when setting or negotiating prices. Brokers and shippers know that driving cargo through congested areas can be time consuming and expensive, so they generally pay a little more for any loads that need to be picked up or delivered to downtown centers, central business districts, and other areas that regularly have lots of traffic.

At the same time, they know that freight truck companies may struggle to find another load after delivering cargo to an extremely remote destination. That’s why you’ll be more likely to negotiate a higher rate for shipments headed to unpopular locations where you may be forced to deadhead until your next load.

Time constraints

Shippers with loads that need to be delivered ASAP will pay a premium to ensure their cargo arrives on time, while those that have more flexible delivery times won’t need to provide additional compensation. So, whether you’re searching for the highest paying reefer loads or the best paying freight for owner operators, your best bet is to find loads that require immediate delivery.

How to find the highest paying loads

To find the most profitable loads, the first thing you’ll need to do is research freight rates. If you don’t know the going rate for various lanes, you’ll end up leaving money on the table. On the other hand, if you’re aware of the average rates, you can negotiate better rates and show brokers that you’re a serious contender.

Similarly, you’ll want to stay up-to-date on which freight markets are hot at any given moment. If you simply make decisions based on last year’s market — or even last month’s market — you’ll quickly fall behind and may miss the mark when choosing loads or negotiating prices. Your carrier business will be far less profitable than you could have been, and you may even rub brokers or shippers the wrong way by proposing out-of-touch rates. So, make sure to stay on top of the freight market’s weekly and daily changes.

You’ll also want to check out which lanes offer the highest rates and view the load-to-truck ratio in the regions you plan to operate in. Usually, pointing out that there are far more loads than trucks will result in better rates. However, even if there are more trucks than loads, knowing the state of the market can help you plan for your next load. For example, you might be willing to take a load in an area where you don’t have as much power during the negotiation if you know you’ll end up on a lane that offers above-average rates the next day.

It sounds like a lot of work, but luckily you don’t have to do it alone. The right load board can make all the difference, enabling you to view hundreds of thousands of loads across every corner of the country and beyond. With a quality load board on your side, you’ll be able to identify the best paying loads in no time, meaning you can get on the road and start making a profit even faster.

There are plenty of load boards available, but no one does it quite like DAT. The DAT load board is carriers’ first choice because it’s one of the best tools for finding the best paying freight. Not only does DAT provide accurate insights into current market conditions and average truckload rates, but it also displays brokers’ reviews and credit scores so transportation trucking companies know who they’re working with before they even make initial contact.

With over 448.5 million loads and trucks posted each year, the DAT load board makes transportation trucking companies’ jobs easy. Its advanced filter features allow carriers to quickly find the right load for their equipment and pricing requirements, while the TriHaul tool provides suggestions for higher-paying routes. Plus, since the DAT load board shows listings in real-time and lets you set automated alerts whenever a new load matching your search criteria is posted, you can scoop up the best paying truck driving jobs before the competition.

Best practices for bidding

As a carrier, chances are you’ll spend a fair amount of time working in the spot market. However, you may be invited to bid on a shipper’s request for proposal (RFP) — and with contract prices up and contract lengths down, bidding has never been more critical. If you were invited to bid on an RFP, you’ll want to:

  • Submit quotes quickly and often: In the past, RFPs generally happened once a year, and transportation trucking companies waited weeks or even months to receive a response after submitting their bids. It’s a different story now due to ongoing market volatility. Now, freight truck companies need to approach everything a lot faster so they can provide quotes to a wide range of brokers and shippers. Instead of bidding on every aspect of an RFP, carriers should concentrate on their best lanes. That is to say, the routes that will be most profitable for them in the long run and can improve driver efficiency.
  • Think of every contingency: The word “unprecedented” has been thrown around a lot in recent years, and it’s true! We’ve seen things we’ve never experienced and did not predict, leading to lots of volatility in the market. Though things have calmed down over the last eighteen months and we’ve returned to normal seasonality, we’re in a down cycle, meaning it’s a tough market for carriers — and who’s to say there isn’t another surprise coming down the pipe that could impact lane rates? That’s why it’s important to consider all outside influences (including global conditions) when submitting bids for an RFP.
  • Rely on data: The reality is, experience isn’t enough when determining prices these days because the lane rates we’ve seen over the last years and even decades may not be particularly useful in determining tomorrow’s rates in the wake of ever-shifting market conditions. Instead, freight truck companies need to rely on data analytics and forecasts to ensure their bids are taken seriously. Access to accurate historical data and forecasted rates empowers you to submit quotes that better account for market fluctuations and ultimately benefit all involved parties, making it more likely that you get the job — and at a rate that helps you stay profitable.

Find high-paying loads with DAT’s load board

If you want to save some effort, find quality loads, and raise your bottom line, there’s no better tool than the DAT load board, the most extensive option in the industry. With over 400 million loads posted annually, many of which are added exclusively to DAT, and automated filters, the DAT load board can help you find the best loads first. Plus, you’ll be able to read companies’ reviews and see current market conditions and lane rates, allowing you to make the most informed and profitable decisions possible. You’ll be able to save time and grow your business at the same time.

See how the DAT load board can help you find high-paying loads today!

Maximize profits with the DAT load board!

Carriers not only need to find loads, but they must also keep up with the market to ensure they’re taking on the highest-paying cargo. Luckily, the days of hours of independent research and analysis are over! With the DAT load board, you can quickly find loads and view current rates.

Discover the DAT load board for yourself today!

DAT Load Board

From $ 45 /mo