Owner-Operator Truck Driver Salaries

Driving a truck for a living is a way to make a good living without having to go through years of schooling and training. While you will need to take an extensive training course to be able to operate a commercial truck and be able to get a CDL, once you have completed the training, you will no longer have to worry about doing it again.

Aside from the supplemental trainings that you will have to complete annually, the main training and certification only needs to be done once. After you have been on the road for some time, those with great ambition set out to operate on their own. Owning and operating your own trucking company can be quite profitable if you are able to network and generate long-lasting contracts with companies that are going to consistently need freight transported from one location to another. This article will highlight some important things that you should know about owning and operating a truck as well as the salary that you can expect from doing so.

According to a highly reputable job search website, Indeed.com, owner operator truck drivers make an average salary of $184,000 per year. This can vary based on the amount of work that an owner operator can pull in as well as the expenses that they have to pay in a year. This article will describe in greater detail why some choose to become an owner operator while others remain content with driving for a company.

Owner-operators have to deal with expenses

When you work for a company, you do not have to worry about paying for certain expenses as the company will cover that for you.

Expenses such as, but not limited to, maintenance, buying a truck, medical expenses, insurance, taxes, and paperwork. These expenses can add up to be quite cumbersome after a while. For example, your truck may need new tires. That could be quite a costly investment that you will have to pay out of pocket if you own your truck. Other expenses that can add up to be a costly amount include buying a truck, paying for medical and health insurance out of pocket, as well as truck insurance.

The expenses can add up so fast which can take a toll on your total amount of take home income which is why some truck drivers prefer to operate with a leasing program instead of buying their own truck.

Leasing programs

Some truck drivers who have the gumption to go out and work on their own choose to lease their truck through a third-party company. This is a great deal as a truck driver can often get into their own truck without having to put any money down. It is important to note however, that the truck driver will make monthly payments to pay off the truck. While there are many great leasing programs out there, the survival rate of those who attempt to operate a business this way is very low.

Many driver’s fall flat when leasing a truck as the leasing company can set stringent measures on mileage which makes it hard for the driver to make money. If the driver is not hauling freight from one location to another, they are not making money. As a result, if the truck driver is not making money, chances are that they are then unable to pay for their lease on the truck. It is a never-ending cycle that often does not end well.

The moral of the story is that if you choose to lease a truck, make sure to read the fine print and understand the agreement that you are signing up for.

Owning and working as an authority vs. leasing your truck to a company

When you work as an authority, there are many advantages. Some of these include not having to deal with company politics, having complete say when it comes to accepting or denying jobs, and having the flexibility to making your own schedule. You will also get paid more per mile if you are an authority.

If you choose to lease your truck to a company, there are many benefits that go along with this option as well. Some of the benefits include having consistent work and freight to haul. Another perk is that the trailers will be provided by the company you lease with. Many companies will provide you with a fuel card, cash advances, and money systems. They will pay for your plates, tolls, and other expenses while on the road.

Finally, when you lease with a company, they will cover your insurance policy or provide you with a great fleet rate which will save you money. It is important to note that when you lease with a company, you will make less per mile than if you were to operate as an authority.

Tips to being an owner operator that will help you make (or save) money

If you choose to lease with a company, avoid leasing and working for them at the same time. The reason for this is that many leasing companies will pay you the bottom rate and you can make much more elsewhere.

Do your best to keep your maintenance and other overhead costs to a minimum. One way to do this is to drive slowly and safely. When you worked for a company you may have found yourself trying to drive as many miles as possible in a day to make extra money. When you work for yourself, you can slow down and take your time as you will be getting paid by the load you are hauling. Try not to drive over 60 miles per hour as it can wear down your brakes fast. It is advised to get your oil changed on a monthly basis and have your truck greased on a weekly basis. This will help keep you truck in tip top shape and will help to prevent maintenance or other repairs.

Before you join a company, make sure to get the scoop on them from other drivers. The more you drive around and interact with other truck drivers at stops, diners, and other places, the more you will start to hear about what companies are good to work for and which are better to stay away from.

As an owner-operator, you can choose the freight that you choose to carry. One of the best perks is that you can decide when you will be on the road. With this job, you won’t have to worry about not having work. There are always loads of freight that need to be hauled to various parts of the country and trucks are in high demand.


There are times as an owner, that you will have to make decisions in the moment. You may not have the luxury of taking time to determine the best course of action; you will have to act based on your gut instincts. A situation that this may arise is when dealing with truck maintenance. You could be driving along on the open road to find yourself in stopped on the shoulder due to an unknown equipment malfunction or failure. You may have to decide on whether or not you can fix the problem yourself or call the closest repair shop for assistance.

When calling a repair shop that you have never worked with before, there are several things to be aware of so that you are not inadvertently taken advantage of as you are in a desperate situation in the middle of nowhere. Paying more for maintenance than need be is a quick way to lose out on some of your profits.

Tips to avoid getting taken advantage of by a mechanic

When you are an owner-operator, one of the things you have to take care of yourself is the maintenance and upkeep of your truck. If you do not do this the right way, the maintenance and upkeep of your truck can take a big chunk out of your salary. One of the best ways that you can keep money in your pocket is to be familiar with the mechanics of your truck. Here are some tips to avoiding getting taken advantage of by a mechanic.

One of the biggest mistakes that truck drivers make is not understanding the mechanics behind how their truck works. While you don’t need to be trained to do the work as you can hire that out, it is imperative that you know how the work needs to be done so that you don’t get taken advantage of by a mechanic. Being taken advantage of for repairs is the easiest and most common way to lose the profits you are making on the load you are hauling.

Always get the work estimate in writing before you agree to having the work done. When you have the estimate, make it be known that no additional work needs to be done unless it is discussed with you first. The reason for this is that some mechanics may do additional work and then try to charge you for it after the fact.

Make sure that the mechanic you are working with has the proper certifications to work on your truck. You are trusting a mechanic with your entire office so make sure that you know who you are working with. There are times while out on the open road that you may find yourself in a predicament and have to use the closest person that you can find, but for most of your maintenance needs, it is best to build a relationship with someone and stick to one person for the life of your truck. This way, the mechanic can build a relationship with you as well as your truck and you can be confident that you are getting a fair rate.

Use a credit card when paying for the work done by a mechanic. The reason for this is that if there is a problem or you need to settle a dispute, you can easily do so if you pay by credit card. If you pay by cash, you are out of luck.

When possible, do what you can to take your truck to a maintenance shop that is full service and can work on more than one thing. For example, if you need new tires and you have a brake that is malfunctioning, it is best to take your truck to a shop for service that handle both requests at one time. It makes more sense to do this as opposed to going to one shop for new tires and then another one for the brake malfunction. Getting work done at one place will save you time and money.

Working for yourself can yield a great income but you have to be patient and smart about being an owner operator. There are many truck drivers who set out to own a business but find it to be too challenging to maintain their truck, network to obtain work, handle the paperwork and tax documents, and manage their incoming cash flow with outgoing expenses such as gas, tolls, and plate license fees.

In order to be a success at owning a trucking business, you will need to have patience and be willing to learn about the industry. Successful owner operators are not only drivers, but they also know the trucking business so well that they understand the implications of what it takes to be a sound business owner that operates solely on the road.

Trucking is not for the faint of heart and it can be quite challenging from time to time. Owning a trucking company is challenging, albeit very rewarding, and can be a worthwhile career choice. You can make a great salary as long as you are cognizant of maintenance and typical owner- operator expenses that can add up fast over time. Owning and operating a truck is a great way to combine business and one’s love of driving into a lucrative career.