This post was last updated on July 22nd, 2016
As an owner operator, you create your own success, and you do it on your own terms. It takes a unique spirit of independence, and self-reliance to pave your own way, but the hard work is well worth the effort. For truckers who choose to take the road less traveled, there are several owner operator career options that will keep you on the open road doing what you love most.
Before we dive into your career options, let’s first take a look at what the difference is between an owner operator and a company driver, and the advantages of being an owner operator.
Owner Operator Jobs vs Company Driver Jobs
No matter whether you choose to be an owner operator or a company driver, you will still be driving a truck. However, as an owner operator, you essentially operate as your own small business. A company driver, on the other hand, still works for an employer (i.e. trucking companies).
Owner operators must purchase their own trucks and are responsible for maintaining their rig. They’re also responsible for finding their own owner operator jobs. To succeed, they must put a great deal of time and effort into building and maintaining their small business.
The Advantages of Owner Operator Jobs
There are several advantages to being an owner operator, including:
- More money – As an owner operator, you have the opportunity to earn more money than a company driver would. Owner operator pay rates will be dependent on how efficiently the owner runs his or her business. If you choose to incorporate, you can also enjoy lower tax rates and other tax advantages.
- Be your own boss – Being your own boss is, perhaps, the biggest perk that comes along with being an owner operator. Truck owners typically do not have to deal with forced dispatch. More often than not, they are free to choose their own loads.
- Use your own equipment – Unlike company drivers, owner operators can choose their own equipment. There’s also the added bonus that the truck belongs to you. In other words, you don’t have to deal with other drivers changing your equipment settings. Instead, you can personalize your equipment to your liking. Choose a more comfortable seat or add additional amenities that will make your ride more comfortable.
- Relaxed rider policies – Many companies employ a much more flexible rider policy for owner operators. This means that you may be able to travel with your spouse, child or a friend.
- More time off – Most owner operators enjoy more time off than company drivers. You’re free to work as much or as little as you like. If you need to take some time off to deal with family issues, you have no one but yourself to ask permission from.
- Safer – An owner operator is arguably safer than a company driver when hauling a load. This is because an owner operator can pick and choose his or her equipment. Instead of the cheap tires that many companies use, you can select the best tires on the market. The safety of your truck will depend entirely on you and your budget – not company policy.
Owner Driver Jobs
There are several career options for independent truckers who are looking to become owner operators.
The first and most obvious choice is to, essentially, become a contractor. Many major trucking companies work with contract owner operators. Going this route allows you to enjoy the perks of being an independent trucker and the peace of mind of having steady, reliable work. Contract owner operators tend to be best suited for drivers who have just graduated trucking school, as the pay tends to be lower than other owner operator jobs.
The vast majority of owner operators deal with the transportation of freight. For independent truckers, this is where the money is. A standard 18-wheeler is all that’s needed to haul anything from household items to food. Business are reliant on freight drivers to ensure that their goods reach their destination quickly and safely.
Heavy equipment drivers are another popular career choice for owner operators. Construction firms, utility companies and public agencies often require licensed and skilled drivers to drive large vehicles to various worksites throughout the country. These vehicles may include dump trucks, large-scale haulers or cranes.
Hazardous Material Driver
The highest paying career option for an owner operator deals with the transportation of hazardous materials. While the pay may be excellent, there is a high level of risk and responsibility that comes along with this job. Truckers who haul hazardous materials may deal with liquid gasses or explosives. In addition to their regular training, these drivers must also undergo special training and pass a challenging written exam in order to secure this type of job. The competition in this field is fierce, but if you’re a brave trucker looking to earn a lot of money, this may just be the right career path for you.