Owner-operator and company driver both drive trucks, still there is a battle in Owner-Operator vs Company Driver. Company driver drives for someone and owner-operator drives for himself.
Owner-operator makes in between $120k to $180k a year whereas company drivers earn around $65k a year.
Almost all trucking companies are hiring company driver and owner-operators. So why every company driver is not an owner-operator?
Is it worth being owner operator?
My answer is yes, why to allow someone to bite your bread. As a job, there is no difference. Still, there are some issues. Things to consider before being an owner-operator are.
If you already in debt, do not buy a big rig, try to clear your debt first, don’t take a ridiculous risk. You should have a backup to face unexpected breakdowns. I do not suggest you go for it if your credit cards already overloaded.
The truck loan is not a big deal, it depends upon your personal credit score. On top of that, everything is on loan, phone, car, house, etc… let’s take one more. Pile up a bank account with 10% down payment. You are ready to be an owner-operator if your finances give the green signal.
Owner-Operator vs Company Driver pay package.
If there is little difference in the earnings of company driver and owner-operator, do not take an extra burden. Some company drivers are earning more than owner-operator, especially local owner operators and long haul company drivers are the same. There are a lot of catches in the owner-operator pay package, read thoroughly before signing.
Thoroughly calculate per mile rate, empty and loaded miles, border crossing, fuel surcharge, capped fuel or company paid fuel, safety bonus, terms of the sign on bonus, etc. in the owner-operator pay package.
I have company paid insurance, still, there are deductibles in owner-operator pay package, read carefully
As per my experience, capped fuel is best for owner operator, because you do not need to worry about increasing fuel prices.
Do not sign for toll roads and bridges, otherwise, you will be on Chesapeake Expressway every day.
Type of freight, equipment required.
If you like your company and hauling heavy freight, do not go for 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 heavy haul tractor.
Availability of work.
Look at the company history, since how many years they are in business, how may work contracts they have. Obviously, you need long term work contract, 3 to 5 years to pay off the truck loan, and good earning starts after you paid off. Trucking company shut down overnight is trending nowadays, be aware of that.
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.
Changing jobs Owner-Operator vs. Company Driver
It takes 2 to 3 days or maximum a week to jump around as a company driver. But as an owner-operator, I tried to switch companies, almost everyone told me it may take 2 to 4 weeks, which I was not able to afford. Other issues in switching company as an owner-operator are equipment limitations, like wheelbase, power, year of manufacture, and even some time color of your unit.
Local Owner-Operator vs. Company Driver
Nowadays, earnings of local owner-operator and highway driver are almost the same. Being an owner operator you have an extra feeling of own business. Highway drivers, sometimes make more than local owner-operator. Sometimes one heavy repair flushes away savings of months. So why to take the extra burden for no difference. Here is the average payment calculation.
Local owner-operator pay
On average, monthly earning of local owner-operator is $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.
Now a company driver on highway earns around $.60 per mile.
So the total earning = $6000, rolling 10000 miles a month, and some companies pay safety bonus, short-haul premium, border crossing bonus which makes gross around $6500.
So why to take the extra burden just for HST on fuel and repair costs.
Highway Owner-Operator vs. Company Driver
Earnings are good on the highway. Long haul owner-operators make around $2500/monthly more than a company driver. It is not worth if you calculate hours, home time, and risk and vehicle maintenance, but still, it is better if you live on trucking.
Maintenance and repair cost is bigger in the long haul, and pay packages do not afford brand new rigs.
Consider everything before being an owner-operator and save a penny earned.