There are many different careers available once you earn your commercial driver’s license (CDL). One that may become an option once you gain more experience in the industry is becoming an owner-operator. These individuals either purchase or lease a semi-truck and run their own trucking business. Owner-operator trucking requires an investment and a strong understanding of how to deliver freight efficiently. If this is a path you are interested in, it can be helpful to know what being an owner-operator is like and how to reach this goal.
Types of Owner-Operator Trucking
There are two main ways that you can deliver freight as an owner-operator. Which is best for you depends on your preferences, your financial situation, and a variety of other factors.
Some owner-operators are fully independent and operate under their own authority. This means that they can deliver freight for any company that requires their services. Many successful owner-operators develop a strong reputation with shippers over time and are able to get consistent work this way. However, it does require time and effort to get loads as a fully independent truck owner. Additionally, you will be responsible for all tasks related to running your trucking business such as Department of Transportation (DOT) compliance, insurance, bookkeeping, et cetera.
Contracting with a Trucking Company
Another option as an owner-operator is to contract with a specific trucking company. Many motor carriers offer programs that give you a path to truck ownership. If you already own your semi-truck, you can still sign on as a contracted driver. This is different from being a company trucker and you will still be responsible for your own expenses, but you will haul exclusively for a specific motor carrier, which makes it easier to find loads.
Pros and Cons
If you are considering becoming an owner-operator, it’s important to understand the potential benefits and downsides.
- Owner-operators are among the highest-paid individuals in the trucking industry. This is the main benefit of this path and if you put in the work, your earning potential can be significant.
- Trucking is a career associated with freedom, and this is even more true for owner-operators. You will be able to make decisions about which loads to take and how to run your business.
- Your truck belongs to you, so you can customize it as you would like and don’t need to worry about sharing it with anyone else.
- There are many start-up costs associated with becoming an owner-operator, as well as additional expenses as you continue to run your business.
- You will need to wear many different hats and complete a variety of tasks beyond trucking alone in order to be successful.
- Freedom comes with responsibility, and it can be stressful to be fully responsible for your trucking business.
How to Become an Owner-Operator
If you have decided that you would like to be an owner-operator truck driver, how can you get started? The first step is getting your CDL, which allows you to operate a semi-truck. In most cases, it is beneficial to be a company driver first to get some experience and learn more about the trucking industry. This also gives you time to save up the money to buy or lease your truck or, if you want to contract with a motor carrier, you can find a job with one that offers a path to truck ownership.
Get Started at Phoenix Truck Driving Institute
At Phoenix Truck Driving Institute, we can help you earn your CDL in as little as four weeks. We also offer job placement assistance and can help you find companies that offer paths to becoming an owner-operator.