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
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.
Find Freight from DAT’s TruckersEdge – First 30 Days
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
If you are new to the trucking industry, Big Rig Central.com 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
- 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
- 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.
Of course, there are many factors that determine the amount of money you make
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
- You decide what loads to haul and what locations you want to
- 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
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 Central.com is not guaranteeing you will make that much or that
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
Many trucking companies offer various lease purchase type programs to get you in the big rig
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:
- 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.
- 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
While Big Rig Central.com 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 Central.com wishes you great success as a big rig Owner Operator.