How to Become an Owner Operator Truck Driver

Have you ever wondered how to become an owner-operator truck driver, or what that even entails? When most people think about truck drivers, they think about someone that transports, loads, and unloads goods. Owner operator truck drivers go through the same tasks, but instead of working under the boss of a company, they operate as their own boss. Read more to learn about the pros and cons of owner-operator truck driving, and what it would take to turn your goals and dreams into actions.

Weighing the Pros and Cons Before Learning How to Become an Owner Operator Truck Driver

So you’re interested in truck driving, but did you know that you can also own and operate your own business while doing it? Whether or not you’ve already started truck driving, you may have wondered what it would be like to drive on your own accord. 

The Pros

If you don’t like being controlled or managed, being an owner-operator truck driver might be for you. As your own boss, being an owner-operator truck driver must just be the perfect thing to satiate your entrepreneurial side. The biggest difference between company and owner-operator driving is the freedom you are afforded. You can work on your own schedule, which leaves you with more control of your personal and family life.

As of May 2022, owner-operator truck drivers earn higher salaries than company truck drivers, with an average base salary of $142,919. Owner-operator drivers might also find that they can set aside more ideal hours for family time.

The Cons

While there are many benefits to being an owner-operator truck driver, there are also some things to keep in mind and be ready for. 

As an owner-operator truck driver, working independently from any company also means that you won’t receive any company benefits. If you are not already, you’ll have to sign up for things like health insurance, retirement accounts, and life insurance. Becoming an owner-operator also means taking care of your own health insurance, and if you have a family, their health insurance as well. This also means that vacation time or sick days will depend on your own capacity, eliminating the possibility of paid time off. 

Working on your own accord means that you aren’t making money unless you’re on the road. Unlike company truck drivers, owner-operator truck drivers are not promised routine and consistent pay. In addition, you are in charge of handling all the expenses associated with your business.


A Basic Guide on How to Become an Owner Operator Truck Driver

Being an owner-operator truck driver means that not only are you on the roads, but you are also a small business owner–or more precisely, a self-employed independent contractor. Here is a list of basic steps, insights, and must-haves in order to become an owner-operator truck driver.

1. Decide If This Is Right For You

As with making any decision, making personalized pros and cons sheets can help you start off on the right foot. In addition to the above realities that owner-operator truck drivers face, it’s also important to consider your personal finances, health, family life, and driving experience.

In terms of finances, although start-up costs are fairly low, it could take a while to develop a consistent income stream. It is important to have a strong credit score and some financial stability built up before becoming an owner-operator. 

If you’ve never driven a truck before, it’s not a bad idea to get some experience as a company driver before hitting the road on your own accord. You can pick up valuable lessons about the industry from the inside that will help you manage your own operations later on.

2. Get Your CDL and Meet the Mandates

Although, getting your CDL is nothing like getting your basic driver’s license, with proper training you can get licensed quickly. A Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) is required by all truck drivers who are operating a certain sized truck across state lines. In order to become a commercial truck driver, you must pass your CDL test which includes a written exam portion and a road test. With our 15-day training program, you can get your CDL in as little as 3 weeks. 

In order to become a successful owner-operator truck driver, you must obtain a USDOT and/or MC number, intrastate licensing, pay an annual heavy vehicle use tax (HVUT), and display your international fuel tax agreement (IFTA) credentials. 

3. Finance Your Equipment

Firstly, decide whether you are going to lease your vehicle from a company or operate under your own authority. There are 3 types of owner-operators: lease operators, lease-purchasers, and self-employed independent operators. Lease operators lease trucks from and haul for trucking companies. Lease-purchasers lease their trucks from a third party and then sign a contract to haul goods for a trucking company. Finally, self-employed independent contractors secure trucks and contracts for individual loads.

The freedom of being your own boss also comes with the need to manage all of these financial responsibilities. Becoming an owner-operator comes with juggling weight taxes, registration fees, licenses, and endorsements. Additionally, it is your responsibility to attain and maintain trucking equipment, handle loans or leases, and insurance. 

5. Get Insured

Whether you’ve decided to lease to a trucking company or otherwise, you will be the one that is in charge of getting insured. If you are leasing a vehicle from a truck carrier, then look into the scope of coverage that the carrier provides for you. 

Typically, a truck carrier only covers primary liability. This means that there are several instances you may need additional coverage for. For example, in the case of a collision, physical damage coverage will cover the cost of damages the truck suffers from. Motor truck cargo coverage will cover the cost of goods that are damaged from accidents. 

Make the Leap With Truck Driver Institute

Whether you are interested in pursuing a traditional company driving or owner operator career, TDI is here to help you get your foot in the door.

Whether you have previous driving experience or you’re just starting out, we are here to jumpstart your career with the best CDL training around. With eleven training centers in eight different states, finding a local campus near you is easier than ever. Contact us today to learn more about our three-week CDL training program, and we will give you the tools you need to become an owner-operator truck driver in no time!

Get Started

Get your Class A CDL in our friendly, supportive CDL training program. TRAIN with experienced instructors – multiple good-paying, secure job choices with benefits available for eligible graduates. EARN $700 – $1000+ / week to start as a truck driver. Get started today by filling out the form below. We look forward to hearing from you!