A leading fuel source in the United States is propane. People use this fuel for heating their homes and water, as well as for cooking. Typically, propane companies deliver supplies of propane to clients via truck, which means that propane companies have to hire drivers to stay in business. These drivers made anywhere between $17,000 and $55,000 in May 2010, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Turnover is high in the industry in part because compensation isn't always sufficient to meet drivers' needs.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics classifies propane truck drivers in the "Light Truck or Delivery Services Drivers" category. In May 2010, the average compensation for someone in this group was $32,140 per year. This converts to an hourly wage of $15.45. This rate represents a 0.3 percent increase from 2009 to 2010.
Other sources vary regarding the averages provided specifically for propane drivers. For instance, the Simply Hired website reports that propane truck drivers earned $29,000 annually as of June 2011. For the same time period, the Indeed.com website reports a higher annual salary of $38,000. Both of these figures, however, are well within the bureau's range for the "Light Truck and Delivery Services Drivers" group.
According to the bureau, propane drivers and others in the "Light Truck or Delivery Services Drivers" category earned $17,770 per year in the 10th percentile in May 2010, or $8.54 per hour. In the 90th percentile, pay was $54,850 annually, or $26.37 per hour.
Pay by Region
The bureau reports that, in May 2010, the highest-paying region for propane truck drivers and other individuals in the "Light Truck or Delivery Services Drivers" group was Alaska, offering an annual salary of $39,490. Maryland followed at $36,170. Compensation averaged $35,930 in New Jersey, and Minnesota provided $35,280. In Delaware, pay was $35,260.
Propane truck drivers and other drivers in that category earned the worst salaries in Arkansas, where pay was $27,900 per year. Rates were similar in Utah, which paid $27,920. In North Dakota, propane truck drivers and other drivers in the "Light Truck or Delivery Services Drivers" category earned $28,020. Mississippi and South Carolina paid $28,300 and $28,650 per year, respectively.
Certain truck drivers, including those who drive propane trucks, belong to unions: About 16 percent of drivers held union membership in 2008, says the bureau. These unions dictate the minimum compensation that drivers earn. Even so, the propane industry has had trouble finding and keeping drivers due to low pay, as reported by James E. Guyette of LP Gas in 2005. One reason for this is that propane drivers transport a substance that falls under strict hazard regulations — drivers can earn the same or better pay driving other types of trucks without the hassle of these conditions.
Another consideration for propane truck drivers is that the area served can influence pay. For instance, regions with higher populations may have more individuals who need propane delivered. Regions also vary on whether they utilize other fuel options such as wood, wind, solar and geothermal power.