Some Owner Operators find that the ideal middle ground of freedom and cost is leasing their truck to a single carrier company. While the trade-off is that you are essentially more obligated to that one company, the advantages are having consistent freight and access to company perks such as fleet insurance rates, fuel cards and often reimbursed tolls, plates, and permits.
Who is an Owner Operator?
In the trucking industry, an Owner Operator is the equivalent of being a small business owner. Owner Operators fall into two categories: A self-employed truck commercial truck driver transporting goods with their own truck or one that operates as an independent contractor with a small number of trucks and drivers. Owner Operators can also choose to either work on a freelance/per contract basis with multiple companies or they can enter a lease agreement as a dedicated driver to a single company or specific product. If you do it right, being an Owner Operator is the best way to earn the highest truck driver salary in the industry.
Owner Operator Salary
It is well known that Owner Operators make the best truck driver salary in the USA. However, the difference between gross and net is one major disillusion people often have going in. For example, the average gross income of an Owner Operator transporting regular OTR freight can be anywhere from $100K to $200K, BUT – after the operating expenses and annual taxes are paid, the average net income can be anywhere from $80K to $140K. This is certainly a wide range, but there are many variables determining how much each owner operator makes. Mostly it depends on the type of freight and the type of routes, but it also comes down to how savvy you are at running your own business.
Of course like any entrepreneur, you will also need to have a good business sense and solid business plan to see you through. Other than that, being an Owner Operator requires the following:
Like any small business owner, the first major advantage of being an Owner Operator is the freedom to work when you want and choose the type of loads that best suit your lifestyle. Another benefit to working for yourself is that you don’t have to deal with anyone but yourself and this can be especially appealing to those who don’t like the drama of company politics or adhering to company policies. However, freedom does have a cost and in the case of an Owner Operator, it’s all the expenses of owning and operating your own equipment and paying higher insurance rates typically charged to smaller businesses.
Owner Operator Requirements
There are a lot of things to consider when becoming an Owner Operator and many veterans would recommend getting at least a few years of experience as a company driver before you take the plunge. You will be a lot better off learning the ins and outs of the industry before starting your own company as well as your own preferences in the type of truck you want to drive and the type of freight you want to carry. The most successful Owner Operators usually find a niche for their service such as specialized freight or becoming known with specific types of companies.