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What is Owner Operator Trucking, Anyway?

What is owner operator trucking, anyway?

So you think you want to be an owner operator? Or perhaps you don't want to be an owner operator at all, you just want to know what it is your crazy cousin has taken on for a career? Well you've come to the right place for answers. Below we give an overview of owner operator trucking; so now you can look smart at that next family reunion!

They own their truck.

Owner operators are truck drivers who own their own truck. This means that they make all the payments on the truck and pay for their truck insurance, the amount of insurance the operator pays depends on if he is leased to a company or running his own business completely. Drivers also pay for their health insurance, finance their own retirement and manage truck repairs. If drivers choose to lease onto a trucking company then they do not have to have a Department of Transportation (DOT) and Motor Carrier (MC) number, but if they go solo they will need a DOT and MC number identifying them as a registered carrier. There are currently over 350,000 owner operators registered in the US, and most choose to lease onto larger carriers. 

Not all truckers are owner operators. 

For truckers who do not want to own their own truck but choose to drive a company truck, they are instead referred to as company drivers or professional employee drivers (PEDs). They also do not need DOT or MC numbers as they work directly for a carrier. 

They own their own business.

Owner Operators own their own business. Their truck is their business and they are, usually, their only employee. This means that they have to be just as organized as any other business owner, and even more so. There are more regulations in the trucking industry than you can imagine; and they have to have a working knowledge of the rules and regulations, including which apply in which state as each state differs slightly. To say that staying in compliance is a full-time job is an understatement. In addition to federal motor carrier regulations, truck drivers also have to keep track of their finances, taxes and billing. Many find a good accountant to help in this area. 

They work hard.

Most drivers put on hundreds of thousands of miles a year and are away from their families for at least half of the year, most much more than that. Without owner operators we wouldn't have food on our shelves, clothes on our back or cars to drive. As one old industry adage goes, "If you got it, a truck brought it!" Truckers work long days driving and have to put up with crazy drivers who don't know how to drive safely around big rigs. Their work can be quite stressful and lonely at times, but it is rewarding for them to know that their work makes a huge difference, even if many people don't realize all that truckers do. 


Did You Know?

  • The average owner operator gross  income for one truck is around 200,000.00 and could be more depending on fuel prices. 
  • They drive an average of 120,000 miles a year. 
  • Most are quite educated? 86% have finished high school and 46% have advanced education.* 
  • 90% are registered voters.*

*Facts from the OOIDA survey in 2014

Bottom line? It is WORTH IT. 

Even with the crazy schedule and the need for good organization and planning, most truck drivers wouldn't trade their job for anything. The call of the road is a very real thing. Drivers thrive on the adventure that trucking brings, not just the money, and certainly not the prestige. So if you haven't thanked a trucker, we encourage you to do so today. And if you are interested in a rewarding career in trucking, we are hiring!


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