This may be a tad bit melodramatic, but there are few professions left in America that embody the old Wild-West pioneering spirit of yore quite like trucking does.
Keep the elements the same, but replace the horse and buggy with an 18-wheeler, and dirt roads with paved highways, and you’ve basically got the same gig.
In fitting with that general spirit, it appears truckers in Alaska could have their own version of a gold rush, provided they’re willing to brave some of the elements.
According to a report from supply chain news site FreightWaves, it’s all thanks to an unexpected drilling boom in The Last Frontier.
A surge in approvals of various mining and drilling projects means an inevitable surge in demand for various pieces of heavy machinery and equipment.
Trucking companies are quite literally banking on that surge and are willing to pay handsomely for drivers to deliver all that equipment.
Speaking to two major Alaskan freight companies, FreightWaves noted the small fortune some intrepid drivers would be able to make.
Intrepid may be underselling it, as the outlet notes that drivers can expect to confront ice and snow during the winter, and all manner of dust and mud during the other three seasons.
But again, in exchange for such bravery, there is money to be made.
Sourdough Express, a freight company based in Fairbanks, Alaska, pays its drivers on the “haul road” a hefty $95,000 to $120,000 a year.
That kind of money is positively life-changing in today’s economy, where not even major retail employees or fast food employees are safe.
But it’s not just money for Sourdough Express drivers. FreightWaves reports that drivers also receive health care, retirement and paid time off benefits on top of pay.
Sourdough Express currently employs 85 full-time drivers and an unspecified number of contractors. Due to the booming circumstances, Sourdough plans to potentially double that workforce, as it looks to add 50 to 100 new drivers.
Other freighting companies are following suit, looking to capitalize on the expected surge of mining and drilling.
Alaska West Express is also looking to expand its fleet of drivers, looking to add a similar number as Sourdough.
The earning potential for an Alaska West Express haul driver is also really high, as FreightWaves broke it down with simple math: One particular haul road that Alaska West Express drivers have to navigate pays around $1,500 per round trip.
Over the course of the year, drivers will typically have to make that trip well over 100 times. With the most basic extrapolation, you can see that Alaska West Express drivers, even if they stuck to just that one route, would earn well over $150,000 per year, pre-tax.
FreightWaves does reiterate, however, that these routes are nothing like your average worker’s office commute.
Frozen roads eventually become slush. That slush eventually melts and makes the roads slick. That melted slush can introduce a whole other assortment of outside elements. Those outside elements then eventually freeze back over to continue the nasty cycle anew next year.
So, no, this won’t be the easiest six figures an average Alaskan can make.
It’s important to know that the cost of living in Alaska is much higher than the lower 48. RentCafe reports that the cost of living in Alaska is 29 percent higher than the national average, and some necessities range even higher than that. While housing is 18 percent higher, groceries are about 30 percent higher and health care is 49 percent higher, according to the site.
FreightWaves also noted that Alaskan truck drivers are expected to be able to fix their own trucks, as repair shops and tow trucks are few and far between in the wilderness. For the same reason, drivers may wait a day or two for rescue if they slide off the road and get stuck.
But it is a hefty salary that Alaskans can earn, with that last word being the operative one.
In this economy, nobody can turn their nose up at a six-figure salary, even if it means risking their lives.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.