April 19, 2010

Is UPS Driver a Good Job?

The article UPS Thinks Out of the Box on Driver Training from Wall Street Journal via Yahoo talks about UPS needing to hire 25,000 new drivers in the next few years.    The article says that their average annual pay for UPS drivers is $74,000.

I'm sure that some people are thinking to themselves that $74,000 to drive a brown truck sounds like a great wage.   I don't disagree with that but there are some things to take into consideration.

First of all that  $74,000 annual average figure is adding in overtime pay.   A little older article I found said that pay is $55,000 and can rise to $70,000 with overtime.   Given that I would estimate they are making about $27/hr and working 9-10 hr days to log around 400 overtime hours per year.  

Second the work can be heavily demanding.   UPS drivers have to carry heavy packages and must be in good physical shape.  Plus you have to be pretty skillful driver.  Driving a big truck around town all day is much harder than it looks.

Third point that is probably the biggest is that UPS drivers usually* don't walk into delivery truck jobs on day one.  You have to work your way up the ladder at UPS before you become a driver.   Generally people start as package handlers in UPS hub and then work their way up to driver.   Working as a package handler is a part time job for 3-5 hrs a day with pay rates around $8-10 per hour.   You may have to work as a handler for years before you get a shot at driving as a temporary driver during the busy Christmas season.   Working your way up to a good job isn't a bad thing.  But the real problem with this is that part time pay for $8-10/hr is not much to support yourself on initially.   And whats more, working as a package handler is extremely hard work.  The job consists of basically moving heavy boxes non stop for several hours.   The UPS.com site says: "This is a physical, fast-paced position that involves continual lifting, lowering and sliding packages that typically weigh 25 - 35 lbs. and may weigh up to 70 lbs."   Thats all they do is lift and move boxes.  Most people can not handle it.

If you are ok with working your way up for a few years, working very hard and putting in overtime during the busy season then working as a UPS driver could potentially be a very good job.

* edit : I added the word 'usually' there after comments from several readers.   My personal experience  at the UPS where I worked was that drivers had to work their way up from sorting jobs.  But that is not the case everywhere and other drivers are hired straight into driving positions.


  1. One of the biggest things for me and work is if you love the job or not. Money does talk but I don't think working at UPS is anyone's dream job. I still think the best thing anyone can do is to go to college, get that ever important education and do what you want rather than settling. If you follow proper tips on budgeting you can easily make that $74,000 a year without working 10 hours a day, 364 days a year and do something you love.

    Maybe that's just me though.



  2. everything that was said in this report was wrong I work at ups as a feeder driver { I drive tractor trailers dub, and trp trailers in ohio on the turnpike and some times city pick ups the job is easy and I got hired off the street i did not work my way up some do but there are a lot who don't and the last time I look at my ck we make 30+ and hr and 46 an hr overtime at about 55 hr a week do the math 5 yrs on the job. i love to drive something I like to do get paid

  3. I'm glad the above poster likes their job and has had a positive experience. What I wrote in the article above applies to what I saw when I worked in a UPS hub myself. I assume that people have different experiences in different cities and that wages will vary from state to state. Driving a tractor trailer is a different job than being a local delivery driver for UPS. If you are an experienced tractor trailer driver then you may not have to work your way up at UPS. That side of the business I don't have any first hand experience with. For the normal delivery drivers, at least in the hub that I worked at, people did have to work up from sorters.


  4. Yeah Jim I work in the hub in Denver and everything you said is legit. I've been there for a year and you must have 3 years seniority to even apply for a driving position. Anonymous got lucky or had tractor driving experience.

  5. My UPS Story, in short:UPS Driver from 1993-1999 [Yes, i was there during the strike].
    I needed a seasonal job as my other seasonal job as a FF was just that, seasonal. I had experience as a Class B driver, driving a Firetruck for CDF, now Calfire.
    I was hired on as a Driver @ UPS for a seasonal driving position. I busted my a$$! No joke! I lost 15lbs in 2 months and was in great shape prior to the UPS job.
    Since I busted my hump on a daily basis and barely made any OT [a good thing for the company], I was called in April to apply for a Full-time job which i obtained.
    For 30 days, you go through probation and are paid $12.50 an hour while they confirm that you can actually do the job. After 30 days, you get bumped up to $15 an hour.
    When I left UPS after 6 years [I injured my back], i was making around $23 an hour.
    UPS has fantastic Benefits. I didn't pay a dime for healthcare or dental.
    UPS will work you to death unless you learn to speak up for yourself and take advantage of what your Shop Steward has to tell you.
    Lastly, and most importantly as no one else above mentioned it...
    UPS hires 1 person from the "outside" to every 4 from the inside.
    You are also vested in their retirement system after 5 years. Which for me, translates to around $800 a month when I reach retirement age! And that is after only 6 years of work, imagine if you actually retire from the company.
    Now, and this is important info as to why they hired me... I did have a BA [They want their managers to have a degree] and had a Class B drivers license, I was also a firefighter so UPS knew that I was a hard worker and could handle the demands of the Job.
    That's my story.

    1. Pretty sure you are vested after 10 years not 5
      But i could be wrong.

    2. This document says 5 years :

      But thats possibly the kind of thing that might change over the years.


  6. been driving for 6 yrs now La area other drivers had told me it gets easier.. not really the case still a utility driver learning and doing different routes on a daily basis ..Good pay but real stressfull at times sometimes people expect to much on our already overstacked schedule..I think about another job but were else would I go to find another 30/hr job? with not really a college education. I guess all the hard work over the past 11yrs at ups have paid off but not to my body with is pretty much beat up back.knees, shoulders oh well back at tomorrow gotta pay the bills

  7. I am a UPS package car driver. I have been doing it for 17 years. A lot of stuff through out the articles are true. Basically, you work hard for the money. It does get easier, I can do my job blind folded. Yes, they higher 1 from the outside and 4 from inside. I was hired from the outside. I will have a pension of $4500 a month when I retire and keep my medical. So, I make $74000.00 you say!!!Please add in those benefits...I pay nothing for my medical, a family of 6 compltely covered with everything. I do not have a college loan to pay off.OH...I get 5 weeks vacation after 20 yrs. I get another week every 5 yrs worked. Ups drivers make well over $100,000.00 dollars a year at the end.Yoy just got to work hard with a positive attitude...It is a great job,,,

  8. I work for UPS in Canada for 7 years now. I make an above average income and pay nothing for my pension or benefits, Home every night and get 4 weeks a year holidays, 5 after 10 years, 6 after 20. I was hired as a driver off the street and can do my run in my sleep. I worked hard in the beginning learning routes but now I have my own route. Working at ups is simple, fallow the strict procedure and your set for life, and they are strict with the rules. I work with a lot of people with university educations who cant find work that pays as good as UPS. It did pay crappy to start but so do allot of company's. Its a union company so you need to push back to management sometimes or they will work you to death, so you need to stand your ground on the amount of work your sent out with. All in all its a good job

  9. Thanks for the input everyone, I think its helpful to see different stories. Clearly UPS does hire some people directly into driver jobs. I added a note in my article to cover that. My experience at the hub I worked in was that people ONLY worked there way up. Also I assume that if you are an experienced commercial driver then it may be different of course.

    Also I'd like to point out that I DO certainly think that UPS driver is a great job. But it is not as 'cushy' and easy to get into as some people might imagine.


  10. Good posts everyone. I just recently got hired as a full time driver and start my "training" class next week. I was a seasonal driver, not a jumper(I actually had a jumper work with me)for the Holiday season in 2009 and again for the summer of 2010. I had a great experience and yes, the work was very hard. I made around $16.10 an hour. I didn't expect to be called because I was still considered "off the street" but last week, they called me! I went in, talked with the HR lady and it was almost assumed I was going to except the job. She had me sign all the paperwork/online app and she even ordered my uniforms. It's pretty exciting and I already know whats expected of me so I just hope my "probationary" perious goes well. Wish me luck!!

  11. I made 89,000 last yr did around 6-9 hrs o t a week plus now we getting raise 32.30 so this yr should be more:)

  12. Nobody cares about canada tho.....

  13. I have been working at the UPS hub in Baldwin Park for almost 2 years. I load the brown trucks before the drivers start delivering. I can easily say its a very hard at first, but over time I have gotten used to it, unfortunately, I'm still having trouble waking up 3 A.M. I have great benefits, for example, medical, dental, vision, and etc. This jobs ideal for me because I go to college during the day and DJ on the weekends. I currently make $11.00 an hour and average about 21 hours a week. Monthly I make $700. I have hopes and dreams to pursue my dream career, but if anything were to go wrong I always have UPS to fall back on. I am very much considering becoming a UPS driver because I hear the pay is Great and I look good in Brown. I've heard rumors I will have to wait about 10-12 years more to become a UPS driver. I am very concerned, so if a UPS driver reads this please let me know what you think should I stay or Pursue my dream career?

  14. I've worked 2 years on the sort aisle and I've got a friend that was driving on call for a few months. I got another job but I'll be able to do drivers helper this peak season, then next year I'll try to go drive.

    I think the best part of the job is the physical work. I lost almost 50lbs in two years just from going to work. My dad thinks I should get a degree, but I can get paid well as good retirement as well as keep my body fit. What better career than that?

  15. Isaac, pursue your dream career. I work out of the Jacksonville HUB and will have 9 years next month. Package car drivers are being called up at the 11 year mark in JAC, so I still have 2 more years before being called up. A bit of advice, look at the faces of the drivers when they arrive back in the HUB. Does it look like the money is worth it? In my HUB, they look rough, except for the senior drivers who have favorable routes. Here in Jacksonville, they are often times ran ragged. That said, I have completed my degree in Biology and look forward to hopefully finding work elsewhere.

  16. I've been a cover driver for the better part of 2 years now. Mentally, it is night and day from loading trucks. You wake up 7:55 every morning and call in to see if you're working. You have no idea what you're in for that day. Every morning is a surprise. You could be covering the route you're trained on or in most cases, doing many many other things. These things range from driving a company mini-van to pick up letterboxes or being sent to a different management office in your building to help out on a route you know nothing about. My favorite is when they have you drive a 30-foot boxcar (large furniture truck you were never trained on) through congested mall parking lots. The holiday season is a mess. Most of the time, the day starts out with showing up to your truck and loading the rest of the packages yourself, because a receiving truck was late. No one seems to mention this, but the kids that load your package car are underpaid and suck at doing so. Every other stop will be missing a package because it was missloaded. Most residential stops that require a signature eat your impossible schedule away even more because they are rarely home. This means you need to fill out a notice and carry the boxes back to your truck, where they will continue to take up space (They stack these trucks to the ceiling, no walking room). at some point in the day, you need to reorganize your truck stop-for-stop because you can never rely on the way it's organized in your PDA. You have to take a mandatory 30 min to hour UNPAID lunch (thanks union) everyday. Unless you're lucky, you can only take 15 min conveniently and hope it slides under the rug. Your pick-up schedules often interfere with your delivery schedules. Most places are open till late, but you have to be there by 3 o' clock, for example. If it snows, your day is ruined. Half the streets you normally drive down will be out of option. This means you need to constantly be re strategizing and reorganizing your day. There are some days where you'll be out 12+ hours and some weeks where you can't even work on Friday because you were out on the road too long. Other motorists are extremely impatient with UPS drivers. If you hate driving in traffic in your civilian car, you're in for a real treat driving the UPS package car. By the end of the day you're so hyper focused and fatigued. You'll have an hour free time before you go to bed and do it all again in the morning. Oh yeah, depending on your center's cover driver policy, you won't be going out for a drink Friday night. You have to work early Saturday morning delivering air-rate packages up to over an 80 square mile area. You also get paid less for this than delivering standard ground-rate packages (you'll be doing this every Saturday until you get seniority. I know people who have been driving for 5 years that still have to come in on Saturday). Off-season, you'll be working in the warehouse at your warehouse rate (and every Saturday air-driving rate, of course). It takes about 5 years until you're actually out on the road working regularly off holiday season. There are many cover-drivers that have been working 10+ years and are not considered full-time yet. This means that they can work 60 hour weeks and none of it goes to a full-time pension..gees. I can go on and on and on, clearly.

    Many experienced drivers tell me the bad days out-way the good and that if they were in my position, they'd be long gone.


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