Owner-Operator vs Company Driver

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The difference between owner operator and company driver

A company driver is an employee of a company whereas the owner-operator is a contractor. Depending upon, you like to take risks or not, but driving for you is better than working for someone else. No doubt both drive trucks, but still, the ground is bigger in the battle of the truck Owner-Operator vs Company Driver.

Owner-Operator vs Company Driver pay package.

Trucking companies are working hard to save every cent, that is why the owner-operator package is no more a white paper. They divided the pay package to play easier base rate, safety bonuses, fuel cap, fuel discount, in yard repair facilities, load location bonuses, border crossing and paid layovers, etc.
The bonuses are based on the targets, like safety bonus, sign up bonus and more. No, doubt you can achieve, but companies keep raising the target bars, as more workers reach out. The table of owner-operator vs company driver salary looks like.

Owner-operator vs company driver pay package, income of a owner-operator, how much company drivers make. truck driver salary, gross income of a truck owner
Owner-operator vs company driver pay package

Company Driver
Base rate

Fuel cap

Company truck
Safety bonus(usually divided into years to keep you engaged)

Border crossing, layover:
$20 to $70/per occurrence

$20 to $70/per occurrence

Short-haul, trip based bonuses:
$20 to $40/oer trip
$20 to $40/oer trip
Total = $1.35+$0.25(Base rate+average bonus)=

Total earnings(Milage*Rate+Bonuses)

Average miles per month = 10,000.
Now, If you make it up to 50% of bonuses, the total monthly paycheck of an owner-operator will be
So the monthly earnings of a truck 10,000 miles/month*$1.70= $17,000/month
Now, let us see

The monthly expenses of a truck owner

Repair and maintenance = $1000
Truck loan installments=$2500
Fuel =$4000
Insurance, license plates, and tolls = $1000(Do not sign for toll roads and bridges, otherwise, you will be on Chesapeake Expressway every day.)
Equipment price depreciation $500
Miscellaneous expenses $500
Income tax $1500
Then the income of an owner-operator is 6500+ HST(return on the fuel and repair bills.) which is around $7000 a month.
Now the earnings of a company driver are around $6200/month, and one can take home around $5500 after tax deductions. The owner operator wins the battle of company truck driver and owner operator makes $1500 working in the same profession.

There are high paying jobs for the owner operator and company drivers. Details of the income of the job for specific trucking jobs are described in the following article.

Top 10 high paying trucking jobs

If the difference between a driver and an owner-operator doesn’t matter, still why is it worth becoming an owner-operator? Yes, there are some encouraging aspects, where the owner-operator wins the battle of owner-operator vs company driver.

Why is it worth being an owner operator?

  • Buying your truck is the second step of success in trucking. It is recommended to drive trucks, be an owner-operator, grow your network with truckers and practically see the expenses, income of the trucking, to establish a trucking company.
  • Another practical benefit of becoming an owner-operator is it increases your endurance. Once you bring your truck, you will start saving on the service calls and end up as a fixer man. This handyman skill pays you for life, as you grow as a trucking company.
  • Mostly, the dispatch forces the truck drivers to deliver the loads on time. On the other side, the dispatch and company authorities treat you as a business partner.
  • The owner-operator also wins the battle of owner-operator vs company driver on the slip seating. You always have the same truck, you know the shortfalls in it and you can keep it clean.

The best being a company driver

If you are a company driver, you are not behind. A company driver wins the battle of truck Owner-Operator vs Company Driver on the following aspects.

  • You don’t have to worry about work, your company will keep you busy if they want to retain you on the job. Moreover, some trucking companies offer guaranteed income, just choose wisely.
  • Drop the keys, throw away the worries every Friday, go home and have quality time with family, no need to fix the truck in the yard.
  • A company driver enjoys bonuses like safety bonuses, sign up bonuses, and uniform allowances, safety shoes, helmet, and safety vests and paid vacations.
  • If your family is in an emergency, as a company driver, you can come back faster than quick, your company will hand over your load to another driver, but it is hard as an owner-operator.
  • You always haul a good freight as a company driver, since no company ever sends its trucks on heavy loads or worse area loads, so company drivers enjoy the icing on the cake.
  • As a company driver, it is easy to change jobs, within a couple of days you can start working in a new company. But the owner operator loses this battle because it takes longer to change the company as an owner-operator.

When is it worth becoming an owner-operator?

There are no regulatory requirements to start as an owner-operator, You only need a CDL and a corporation. But, you need to consider the following to become a successful owner-operator. Try to explore as much as you can on the internet, in owner operator vs company driver/magazine and from other available trucking resources.

Personal finances

If you are already in debt, do not buy a big rig, try to clear your debt first, do not try to bend the spoon. Pileup your savings account for the downpayment and the unexpected breakdowns. Do not rely on future income. The truck loan is not hard for good credit holders. You need a minimum 10% down payment for the low interest payment rate truck loan.

Owner-Operator vs Company Driver pay package.

If there is little difference in the earnings of the company driver and owner-operator, do not take an extra burden. Some company drivers are earning more than owner-operators, especially the earnings of local owner operators and long haul company drivers.

Type of freight, equipment required.

If you like your company and hauling heavy freight, do not go for an owner operator job, heavy loads cause excessive wear and tear. Fluid loads, pet food, meat loads, etc are heavy for regular tractors. If you still want to drive your own truck and haul heavy loads, arrange extra finances because you need a heavy haul tractor.

Trucking companies hiring owner operators

Look at the history and the age of the trucking company. Find out more about company relations, customers, contracts, and the future of the freight they are hauling. You need a long term work contract, 3 to 5 years to pay off the truck loan, good earning starts after you paid off.

Family life as an owner operator

I will also consider family life, before being an owner-operator. You need more home time if your kids are young, and can consider long haul if kids have grown up. Because long haul owner operator jobs are easier to find and better in earning than short-haul or local owner operator jobs.

Is the truck driving experience is required to become an owner-operator?.

As a truck driving profession, there is no difference between a company driver and owner-operator. It is best to start as a company driver and drive for a minimum of 2 years. No doubt, you are still a rookie driver after two years, but you can understand a bit about trucking. It is good to bring your own truck and start after some driving experience.
We already calculated the Owner-Operator vs Company Driver income, now let us see how much the city owner-operator can make?

Is it worth becoming a local owner-operator?.

It is worth if we consider the cost of the truck, home time and driving.

On average, the monthly earnings of local owner-operators are $10,500 working 250 hours on $42/hr.
And monthly expenses of local owner-operator are around $4000
Fuel = $1600, plates and parking = $500, maintenance expenses = $500, Loan Installments = $1200, unit value = $200
So average in hand income before taxes is $6500 a month.
10500-4000 = 6500+Fuel and repair HST.

The city truck owners can come home every day and on top of that, the local trucks are not expensive as long haul tractors.

Used truck buying guide

Hopefully, you got some overall picture of the Owner-Operator vs Company Driver, still, there is more to discover. You are welcome to post in the questions answers like what is a better owner operator or a company driver? In our social media group “Truck Drivers of the US and Canada”. All comments and feedback are welcome.

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