Do Owner Operator Programs Actually Work?



Is a Big Rig Owner Operator Program right for you and can you be successful Being Your Own Boss are the two major questions to answer for yourself?

Yes, there are owner operators out there who make over $100k a year working for themselves but they are business savvy and push hard to make that much money.


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  • They know using quality freight load boards where loads can actually be found is priority number one. 
  • Keeping their big rigs in good shape to keep from being sidelined on the side of the road due to neglected maintenance is high on their list of must do items to be successful as an owner operator. 
  • They know putting an adequate amount of money back in reserve for major repairs that are bound to happen is also a MUST! Somewhere during the operating life of their big rig; they know thousands of dollars will be needed to get back on the road as quickly as possible. 

If you are new to the trucking industry, Big Rig recommends you drive for a company for at least two or more years to really understand the business to make sure that trucking as a lifestyle is for you.


Why Drive for a Trucking Company for at Least Two Years?

  • Most trucking companies want 2 or more years Over The Road (OTR) experience before allowing you to participate in their Owner Operator programs. 
  • You need the time to make sure that trucking is really for you before taking on the large amount of debt from being a big rig owner operator. 
  • The time spent learning the business working for a company will keep you from making mistakes that can prove to be costly and devastating to you as an owner operator who hasn’t learned the business. 
  • The time spent on the road can be used to build your network of contacts that will be needed to allow you a better chance of being successful. Proper networking will allow you to know what transportation companies treat truckers better, who pays better per mile and most importantly the time learning the business allows you the opportunity to make contacts with shippers who someday may hire you to move their freight. In addition, you may learn tricks of the trade from other truckers that could allow you to keep more money in your pocket as your own boss. 
  • You can use the years spent driving for someone else to start building your money reserve up for the day you decide to become a big rig owner operator. You should anticipate making a down payment on your purchase of a big rig with enough money still left in your reserve for unexpected repairs and unexpected down time away from the road due to other factors. 


Again, there are big rig owner operators out there who make over $100k a year working for themselves.

Careful planning on your part can mean the difference between counting the money earned or parking the big rig in the lot to go find another profession to earn money.

Trailer Repair in the Memphis TN area - Call mstrailer repair at 901-362-6800 Of course, there are many factors that determine the amount of money you make annually.


1. How many vacations you take a year

2. Paying for expensive truck repairs

3. Deadheading home too many times

4. Cost of Fuel

5. Cost of Health Insurance

6. Road and fuel taxes

7. Truck depreciation methods

8. Personal tax exemptions

9. Tax write offs

We mention truck depreciation and tax write offs to drive home the fact that you are a business owner who will be wearing many hats instead of moving a load then calling it a day.

You are the chief mechanic, the chief load getter, and the chief accountant of your business. Your day doesn’t end when the load is dropped and the rig is back at a terminal.

Benefits of Being a Semi-Truck Owner Operator

  • You Are The Boss! 
  • You decide what loads to haul and what locations you want to travel. 
  • Don’t let the saying “being business savvy” scare you away. Just be aware you will have many hats to wear that will take up some of your time. Performing required maintenance on your big rig and hiring an accountant familiar with the trucking industry to help you keep an eye on your money will allow you to concentrate on finding the higher paying loads. 
  •  You can put more money in your pocket if you make the right decisions. Compare the average pay of .37 cents per mile for a driver with five years experience as a company driver to an average pay of .87 cents per mile as a big rig owner operator. These are comparative average numbers. With the time spent building up your network of contacts, you may even get a better rate per mile. 

Using 50 weeks out of the year where you drive an average of 2500 miles per week and with the mileage rates from above, you will make:

  • Company Driver: $46,250 per year plus 2 weeks vacation and health benefits that usually require you pay a monthly amount 
  • Owner Operator: $108,750 per year (You will have truck note, fuel, health insurance and other expenses coming out of this amount) With that said, you could, by making good business decisions, still come out with more money in your pocket at the end of the year. 

Big Rig is not guaranteeing you will make that much or that less.

As with any business, you never know what may happen in the future. We just wanted you to see the difference in average pay for the company driver versus the big rig owner operator.

Many trucking companies hire owner operators everyday across the United States while some owner operators work directly for shippers.

Can You Be an Owner Operator Without Having Money Saved Up

Many trucking companies offer various lease purchase type programs to get you in the big rig owner’s seat.

While their lease purchase options are too various to list here, many owner operators find success with their lease purchase programs that allow them to take advantage of the trucking company’s fuel discount program, tire discount program and usually they deduct maintenance expenses from the pay to make sure you stay on the road and your big rig is properly maintained.

There are some truckers who would disagree with using a lease purchase program. Instead they recommend saving your money up until you have enough money for a down payment on a big rig. Some of their reasons are:

  1. You will lose some of your freedom as an owner operator. The trucking company will insist you agree to move the freight of their customers as a first priority even if it is not where and when you want to go. 
  2. Comments made include that you are paying for the truck for the trucking company and it will be worn out before you finally pay it off. 

As with every business transaction, some big rig owner operators may have negotiated better deals than other drivers who entered lease purchase programs without doing their homework.

The lease purchase agreement provisions, the discounts for fuel and supplies and how much you will make per mile as an owner operator for the trucking company will help you make the decision to take the route of a lease purchase plan if you don’t want to wait for years to save enough for a down payment.

While Big Rig can’t tell you which way to go to become a big rig owner operator, we hope the information was enough to make you think more about your various options.

Also keep in mind, some trucking companies will pay owner operator expenses for the following items:

Fuel surcharges, all fuel tax, all tolls, a set amount of scale tickets per load, cargo and trailer insurance and all State registrations and permits

As you can see by the extras expenses trucking companies are willing to absorb to get you to drive for them, it pays to do your homework by networking with fellow truckers and researching the various trucking companies.

Keep in mind that big trucking companies may not always offer you the best deal or the traffic lanes that you may prefer to travel.

Small and medium size trucking companies who are looking for reliable and dedicated professionals are definitely good options for you to consider.

Get Out There and Make It Happen!

Big Rig wishes you great success as a big rig Owner Operator.