If you are a truck driver interested in owning your own truck, are looking to choose your own loads or want to be closer to home, you might be considering a career as an owner operator.
Driving as an owner operator gives you certain freedoms, but also extra responsibilities that those whose drive company-owned equipment do not experience. Here is a complete guide to being an owner operator, and everything you should know when looking for owner operator trucking jobs.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE AN OWNER OPERATOR?
No two trucking jobs are exactly alike. On one hand, there is the somewhat safer route of being a company driver where you never have to worry about your next job. The trucking company you work for will have it all lined up, the rig is owned by them, and all you need to do is drive. As an owner operator truck driver, the main difference is that instead of an employee, you’re a contractor. This usually means that you own your rig, take your own jobs, and can generally run your own time.
Owner operator jobs can be among the most lucrative and satisfying types of trucking jobs. According to Indeed, owner operators earn an average gross income of $184,803 per year. This is more than double the average company OTR driver's salary, although it doesn’t factor in operating and maintenance costs, which can be over 70%.
Your jobs can range from local cities to the other side of the country, or even Canada and Mexico. It is entirely up to you what kind of owner operator job you want to take on and how far you are willing to travel. Of course the further you drive, the more money you can make.
In order to be a successful owner operator, you must be organized, dedicated, informed, and determined to succeed. You should consider all of the ins and outs of being an owner operator before taking the leap to the owner lifestyle.
COMPANY Driver VS. OWNER OPERATOR JOBS: WHICH IS BEST FOR YOU?
Being a truck driver in any capacity is a rewarding and engaging career, but there are many different types of trucking jobs. You can haul retail goods, hazardous materials, livestock, or massive industrial equipment. You can also work directly for a trucking company or independently as a contractor.
Drivers in owner operator jobs are independent contractors, taking work as they please and essentially running their own business. Drivers working in company trucking jobs, however, are employees who work a regular schedule (for the most part) and earn a more predicable income.
Wondering which is best for you? Let’s learn more about these two unique careers.
ADVANTAGES OF COMPANY TRUCKING JOBS
Working for a trucking company brings stability. You are an employee of the company, and you get all the benefits that come with employment, including freedom from fees, repair costs, and other income-draining problems that may plague owner operators. Your free time is free because you don’t have to look for clients, fix the truck, or plan your business, and the pay you bring home is yours to keep. With little to no startup costs, being a company driver is usually the way to break into the transportation industry.
DISADVANTAGES OF COMPANY DRIVER JOBS
As a company driver, your pay is set and predictable. While this means it won’t go down, it also means it won’t go up much. Many drivers working in a company trucking job also have less home time, as the company will decide when and where you work.
Simply put, you don’t have the amount of freedom that owner operators enjoy. You have a boss, a dispatcher, and company owner to please. Obviously owner operators can’t run off and do whatever they want and expect to get paid, but there’s no doubt that company trucking jobs offer less freedom and flexibility.
ADVANTAGES OF BEING AN OWNER OPERATOR
With owner operator jobs, you essentially operate your own business. You’ll have more freedom to choose clients and jobs as you please, and you’ll have the ability to take time off as it fits your schedule. It’s also possible to have more control over the loads you accept. This freedom, and the pride that comes from being an independent professional, is the biggest reason why people want to be owner operators.
Being your own boss certainly comes with advantages. You get to set your own hours. You can choose between only taking local trucking jobs or driving long haul from coast to coast. Best of all, you can keep all the profits for yourself.
DISADVANTAGES OF OWNER OPERATOR JOBS
Being an owner operator can be great, but when you look at the details, you can see why so many experienced drivers choose to stay company drivers.
You will not only drive, and perhaps load and unload, you will also have to maintain the truck and set up your own contracts. You are accountable for any mistakes, and you must always be concerned with growing your business and building your brand. You also need to be aware of startup costs, though there are a variety of funding options.
As an owner operator, you are responsible for all expenses. Oil changes, filter replacements, engine repairs, wheel rotations, weight tickets...you name it, you’re paying for it! While you stand the chance to make a significant amount of money, you also stand to earn less because of the cost to maintain your rig.
You also have to market your business to your prospective client base. There are also the bookkeeping, accounting, and record keeping portions of the business which can fall on the owner as well. It takes a huge amount of responsibility, disciple, and commitment to be an owner operator.
You should be extremely informed and up to date on all the different paperwork that you will be required to file regularly. It is so simple to think that it's okay to just put the paperwork aside and deal with it later. Not dealing with your paperwork could result in costly mistakes and lost income that could affect your career. You must be determined to make your dream a reality.
How to Become an Owner Operator
Owner Operator jobs allow those who love to drive an opportunity to have a career doing what they love. These jobs are readily available, and with the proper training and licensing and can lead to a great career in truck driving. While most people start their career in trucking as a company driver to get experience and learn more about the industry, in order to become an Owner Operator you need to purchase or lease a truck, have a valid Commercial Driver’s License and willingness to work hard to achieve your dream.
Trucking Companies that Hire Owner Operators
As the trucking industry continues to expand, companies of all sizes are looking for new owner operators to drive for them. Which you choose to work with is a personal decision, but here are some companies to consider:
National Carriers: Calling itself “the Elite fleet,” National Carriers offers generous income and benefits packages to owner-operators. The company offers year-round freight opportunities for over the road runs, along with generous mileage pay and pay for a variety of extras such as fuel surcharges, detention, stop pay, paid plates and permits, and washouts. In addition, owner operators pay no trailer expenses. National Carriers also offers company-paid cargo and liability insurance and excellent rates for a variety of other insurances.
Knight Transportation: Knight Transportation offers quite a few benefits to its owner operators. There is a lease purchase option if you do not yet own your truck, as well as business assistance for all independent contractors working for the company. Knight Transportation also provides a variety of discounts, paid deadheading mileage, low cost insurance, and no trailer fees.
Trans Am Trucking: Trans Am Trucking offers sign-on and retention bonuses, as well as a high mileage rate, performance bonuses, paid plates and permits, stop pay, and more. With routes across the country, Trans Am Trucking can keep owner operators as busy as they want to be.
Schneider: Since 1935, Schneider has been an industry leader in trucking and logistics. Owner operators have the full backing of the company, including access to the extensive Schneider Purchase Power discount program. Those who have not yet purchased a truck can take advantage of lease purchasing or financing directly through the company.
J.B. Hunt: One of the biggest names in the trucking industry, J.B. Hunt has more than 50 years experience working with drivers. Owner operators have the flexibility to choose from the company’s extensive nationwide routes, including options for over the road or local and regional driving, and can take full advantage of the company’s buying power in the form of sizeable discounts. Voluntary health insurance is also available at a reasonable cost. Best of all, owner operators can choose the compensation model they like best.
CRST Expedited: With more than 50 years of experience in the trucking industry, CRST Expedited offers a variety of advantages to owner operators. Those who do not yet own their equipment can take advantage of the company’s vast lease purchase program. Owner operators are fully supported by the company, including a driver decision shutdown policy. If you want to earn even more, you can train student drivers, or even participate in the Train Your Partner program to turn your solo operation into a team.
READY TO GET STARTED?
If you have weighed the pros and cons, talked to other truck drivers and worked your fair share of company jobs, you should be able to make an educated decision about whether becoming an owner operator is right for you. Make sure that you're doing it for the right reasons. Being an owner operator requires you to stay on top of much more than just driving from point A to point B.
Keep in mind that it might not be an easy transition. Just like any other truck driving jobs, owning your own rig means a lot more responsibility. Truck driving jobs are for unique individuals, and being an owner operator is a very specialized and unique job within that sphere. Trucking jobs for owner operators are plentiful, but it is really important that you know what you're getting yourself into. Getting your own rig and starting a business is a sizable investment; you don’t want to be disappointed in the end result.
On CDLjobs.com, our unique truck job listing filters gives you the ability to find owner operator jobs without any kind of stress – after all, if you are already running your own trucking business and own your own rig, don’t you have enough stress already?
Simply apply today, and watch the offers roll in from trusted trucking companies around the country.