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Owner Operator 411


23 June 2009

Pros and Cons of Being an Owner Operator

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly


You are not tied down to a 9-5 job.

You can make a lot of your own decisions.

You can make a decent living.

You get to "be your own boss".

You get to see a lot of this beautiful ol' USA (and maybe Canada and Mexico).


You are not working a 9-5 job.  You will put in 20 hours days.  You will go without sleep, food, and showers.  You will do a lot of sitting and waiting.  Waiting to get a load, waiting to get loaded, and waiting to get unloaded.

You will be gone from home - a lot.

You must make a lot of your own decisions:  Do I buy tires, or have the engine rebuilt?  Do I take this cheap a** load so I can get home, or do I sit out here in the boonies for 3 days waiting on a decent paying load?  If I wait on a decent paying load, how much am I going to lose by not working for 3 days?

You can make a decent living, if you work your butt off, but it is getting harder and harder to do.  Every day freight rates are cut and you are forced to haul for less money.  Rates are no higher than they were 20 years ago, and in many instances, they are lower.  Most of the money you make will go back into the truck.

You get to "be your own boss", with all the decisions, troubles, and headaches that come with being a business owner.

I would like for any current truck drivers who may be reading this to add to this list by making a comment.


ev123 said...

Thanks for this web-site you just don't know how I appreciate this info... again Thanks EV

Road King said...


You are more than welcome.

I am so glad that someone is benefiting from this site, and that you took the time and made the effort to let me know.

If you (or anyone else), have a particular question, please don't hesitate to let me know.

I love hearing from you all!

JOE said...

Thank you so much your blogs are really helpful, I'm just starting in this business.

Road King said...


Thanks for your comment. As always, I am glad to be of help, and I appreciate it when someone lets me know this blog has been of use to them.

Good Luck in your new business!

JOE said...


Road King said...

***I am posting this so that others may see my answer. I sent Joe the following email on the day he posted his comment.***


Yes! There is a penalty for running without an IFTA sticker, if he gets caught at a weigh station or stopped anywhere by the DOT.

The DOT is allowed to pull you over for an inspection anywhere, anytime.

Who was responsible for obtaining the IFTA permit, you or the company you are leased to? If it is your company and they didn't order one for you, I would have them obtain a temporary permit for you.

If you are responsible, you can also obtain a temporary permit. These can usually be faxed to any truck stop. Truck stops sometimes have lists of permit agencies, so your driver might want to check that out, also.

Even if you are responsible, your company may be willing to help you, but if not, here are some numbers for your use: In Texas, call 1-800-252-1383, toll free nationwide. In Austin call 512-463-4600. I don't know if this department (Office of the Comptroller - they are the one who issues IFTA permits) is open on Saturday or not.

If the Texas office is not open, I found the following company on the internet. They do permits for truckers, so you might want to try them. I don't know anything about them. IFTA permits usually range around $10.00. A fax fee to a truck stop can be anywhere from $1.00 to $5.00 per page. If you have to use the company below (or you find another one on your own) they will probably charge you a small fee for their services. I am giving you these fees so that if you have to use a non-state permit service, you will know not to let them overcharge you.

All States Truck Accounting, Inc.
P.O. BOX 1695 Hereford, TX 79045
PH: 806 364-1273
FAX: 806 364-1275

Hope this helped and I wasn't too late in answering. Good Luck!

Anonymous said...

I think you'll want to get a facebook icon to your blog. I just marked down this site, although I had to do it manually. Just my suggestion.

Road King said...


Although I am to write to and post this blog, I am not very savvy about all the new sociable sites. I don't really know what they do or how to use them.

Having said that, I thank you for the suggestion and finally figured out how to add a link to Facebook and other sites. I hope I did it correctly.

Thanks again.

036113a4-ad04-11e0-99d5-000bcdcb471e said...

Thanks for all the information. im looking into buying a truck and renting a trailer to haul grain. i found a company out of nebraska that has plenty of loads and they said rate is 1.68 all the way up to 2.40 a mile. i also talked to a owner opp that takes loads from them and he said he likes it and makes a decent living. But my question to you is do you think it is a good bussiness venture? iv tried to find companies to get hired on to but i dont have enough time on the road for them or my driveing record hurts my chances. i drove for 2 and a half years on a farm but according to companies insurance it doesnt count cause it didnt require a cdl so im sitting dead in the water and it sucks because all i want to do is drive.

Road King said...


I understand the position you are in. It is always difficult to get experience, especially in the trucking industry.

You took a good first step in talking with an owner operator who is doing what you want to do. Keep in mind that although he "makes a decent living", your circumstances may be different and even though you gross the same amount as he does, you may not do as well (or you could do better). For example, does he have a truck payment or is his equipment paid off? Does he rent a trailer, as you plan to do? Perhaps he is single and you have a family to support. See how different situations can change you bottom line, even if you two gross the same amount?

You best bet is to use the "Interactive Cost per Mile (CPM) Calculator to Aid the Owner Operator" at and figure if YOU can make a go of it. When using the calculator, use the $1.68 mile figure. If you can make a profit using that figure, then get loads for $2.40, then you are just that much more ahead of the game. However, if you use the $2.40 figure, and then only get loads for $1.68, you could quickly and easily wind up losing everything.

Having said all of that, if your figures from the CPM calculator support a profit (enough of a profit to live on, pay your taxes and put some into savings), then I think you could reasonably expect to become a successful business.

Thank you for writing, and I wish you luck.

Robert said...

Hello I live in nee jersey and I'm thinking about driving otr or locally but don't know if it's worth it a friend of mine makes 23 a hour driving a garbage truck and I do ok at my job but id like make alot more how much a year can u make on avg a year

Road King said...


I think you would probably do better staying at the job you have. Not knowing what you make makes it difficult to make a comparison, but you can figure it yourself.

Starting pay for an OTR company driver is 28¢ to 32¢ a mile. Take the amount you are currently earning, and divide by one those numbers to see which way you would be better off.

For instance, if you are currently making $30,000 a year, divide 30,000 by .28 and you will see that you would have to drive 107,143 miles a year to earn $30,000.

Now it is your choice which you want to do, but if you want to drive just for the money, and not because you want to be a truck driver, then I would suggest trying something else.

Hope this helps, and good luck with whatever you decide.

Anonymous said...

Thank you I wouldn't be doing it just for money it's just the biggest factor in weather I do it or not both my grandfathers were drivers one otr and one drove a cemment mixer if I was going to drive I would stay out a lot the only thing stopping me is the the money I i could avg 4,000 miles a week I think I would do it but is that even possible thank you again I love the site Robert

Road King said...


Due to the new Hours of Service - New Regulations (HOS) and Questions and Answers - HOS Final Rule, I think 4000 miles a week is going to be a little hard to do.

The new 34 hour restart rule is what is going to put a big crimp in getting enough miles. Even though you may be able to drive 770 miles in each 11 hour period (70MPH x 11 hours), many carriers allow you to log only 55 or 60 MPH. Even if they have no restrictions, it is unrealistic to think you can drive 70 MPH for 11 hours straight -- there is city driving, road construction, accidents, reduced speed zones, waiting to load/unload etc., which will cut down your actual daily miles driven.

If I were you, I would base my estimated income on 3000 miles a week.

I understand where you are coming from -- you just want to drive! It does get in the blood. I have a feeling that is what you are going to end up doing.

Give it a try as a company driver. If you don't like it, or don't earn enough, you can always quit.

I'm sorry I can't give you a "Yes" or "No" answer. I do hope whatever you decide works out well for you.

And Thank You, again, for writing and supporting this site.

Anonymous said...

I really like your page it's really helpful .. I'm a 22 year men and I'm looking for a better way of life for me and my family .. I don't know to much about this business but I have a saved money and Im looking forward to be an owner operator.. I woluld like to know your personal opinion.. Its better (talking about money) work as a company driver .. Or as an owner operator..
And what steps should I follow to start in this business

I'm from Miami florida, I have a mid-level English I hope you understand everything I write..
Thank you

Road King said...


Thank you for writing. Your English seems fine to me.

I'm glad this blog has been helpful to you.

Studies done by OOIDA (Owner Operator Independent Drivers Association) have shown that on average, company drivers earn slightly more than owner operators - and without all of the headaches, expenses, etc.

To learn what you need to do to start an owner operator business, keep reading this blog, search for and read owner operator forums, check out the OOIDA website, or buy my eBook, Owner Operator 101.

Good Luck!

Anonymous said...

I have a question my dad passed away he was a truck driver and had not finished paying his truck my mom snow the owner though my uncle helps to manage the driver and the decisions made the problem is that our current driver seem to not make enough money we understand times van get hard but no one else seems to think he is a hard worker my mom needs to find a new driver but would it be wrong to not let him know ahead of time ? Also how do u decide where to do ur taxes my dads tax lady got him into a pickle now my mom owes IRS 6000. And sadly the life insurance was denied so were kinda sketchy about who will do them now.

Road King said...


First, let me say how very sorry I am that your dad passed away. I know this is extremely hard for you and for your mom. It is hard to make decisions after a death, and it sounds as though your mom has a lot of problems.

Here are the links to a couple of bookkeeping services that specialize in trucking: PBS Tax and Bookkeeping Services, or phone 1-800-697-5153 (they offer a free consultation); or Todd Knapp, CPA, or call 1-503-625-1900. I do not know anything about these companies, but am only listing them, as they are recommended by OOIDA (Owner Operator Independent Drivers Association). You can check your local phone book, or do an internet search. Just make sure the one you choose specializes in trucking. Be sure to explain your entire situation. Perhaps you can be helped with your back taxes. Another thing, a tax and bookkeeping service doesn't have to be near where you live.

Now, as to your driver. Your mom can let him go (fire him) today without any reason or explanation. I hope she doesn't do that. It is always better to be nice to someone and treat them the way you would like to be treated. I have some questions: you said "no one else" thinks he is a hard worker. What does your mom think (or you)? Where and how does he get his loads? Does he choose what he wants to haul? Does he turn down a lot of freight? If he does turn down loads, are they low paying ones that would not show a profit? Is he stealing?

If he is assigned loads by someone else, does he deliver them? On time? Without accidents or damage claims? If he does his job, and does it well, then he is a hard worker. It doesn't make any difference if he is making money or not (as far as his being a good worker is concerned). What I am trying to say is that the fact that the truck isn't making as much money as you and your mom would like may not be the driver's fault. Check it out before you let him go. If you can find an accountant, discuss the problem with them to see why the truck is not making enough.

If it is the driver's fault, I would discuss the situation with him, give him 2 weeks to straighten up, with the understanding that if things haven't improved he will be let go. Who knows, another driver may not do any better. Not knowing your complete situation, I can't say for sure, but I know a lot of owner operators are finding it hard to make a profit right now. If your mom fires him right now, he will leave with bad feeling, and that may make it harder for her to find another driver. Also, if she finds out things weren't really his fault, she may want to hire him again someday.

Does your mom and/or your uncle really know anything about trucking? Since you said your previous tax lady got your dad in trouble, the answer could be that she was doing something wrong that kept the business from being profitable, such as not claiming all allowed deductions, not filing tax reports properly, or something else. Was she stealing?

What do you mean the life insurance was "denied"? I'm definitely not an expert, but I believe there are only a few reasons an insurance won't pay on a policy. 1) fraud, 2) suicide (usually only doing the first two years, or 3) it possible he had a specific policy, such as for accidental death, but died of natural causes. It if were me, I would check this out some more.

I wish you luck. Keep us posted and let us know if things work out for you.

Anonymous said...

Is owner op worth it ? I mean you hear horror story but if money wasn't being made then why ppl do it

Road King said...


Is being an owner operator worth it? It can be, but it is not for everyone.

As I have said many times, many ways, it takes more than just buying a truck. One has to be a good manager and have some business sense. Some knowledge of trucking is a big plus. If a person can't budget and save, then most likely all will be lost.

If done correctly, being an owner operator can make you a decent living, but too many people think it is easy money (it isn't), and so they fail; hence the horror stories.

95ce868c-3916-11e2-88d6-000bcdcb471e said...

Road King : I want to say thank you very much for having this site up as there is a lot of helpful q & a 's on here. I am a 29 year old American man with 2 young boys. I have been pulling trailers for 8 years now and it has been my dream to become an o/o. I have a friend who wants to sell me his kw with low miles at a really low price. My question to you is how can I start thrilling my dream and can I hire a driver to do the driving for me so I can handle the business part of the trucking? My goal is to one day own a small fleet. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

I am very thankful of your site road king! It has been very informative. I have been on the road for 8 years now and it has beem my dream to be an o/o as I've always been a company driver. I am a father of 2 boys and here's where I'm feeling stuck... my friend wants to sell me his kw with low miles for a really cheap price so I would not have a truck note. Now if I did this would I be able to hire a driver so that I may handle the business aspects of the trucking and that I may be able to be home to raise my children? Would this be profitable for me and be able to secure a future for my boys? My long term goal is to one day own a fleet. Thank you road king!

Road King said...


I would not advise you to buy a truck with the intention of putting on a driver.

There is too much paperwork, and too many headaches. It is difficult enough to become an OO and make a profit, especially when starting out, without have to pay a driver's wages on top of all of your other expenses.

I understand where you are coming from (and where you want to go), but I do not think this is a good way to do it.

Sorry, and Good Luck.

Anonymous said...

I am looking at buying a truck and being an O.O. Im currently a company driver and i pull a end dump. i would like to stay in an end dump but not really sure if bulk loads are profitable?

Road King said...


I'm sorry, but I really don't know anything about the business of end dumps or bulk loads.

Obviously bulk loads are profitable, or else your employer would not be in business.

Can YOU make a profit? That is an entirely different question. Do your research, read ALL of the posts on this blog, and most importantly, use the interactive CPM calculator to see if YOU can net a livable income.

Good luck!

Brent said...

First off, thank you for this blog. It has given me a lot of information.

The question I have is kind of off topic for this thread but I thought I would post anyways.

I drove truck for a few years, basically 1999 to 2003. My CDL expired in 2005 from Michigan. I was unable to get it renewed because I was contracting overseas. I got a new license, no CDL, from North Carolina last year. Now for the question if you can help. If I get my NC CDL, will companies and insurance look at that previous experience or will I be looked at like a newbie again?

I'm just curious because my brother has a CDL with crap credit but experience. I have no current CDL but realy good credit. I was going to go owner operator and run team with my brother but how will companies and insurance look at this? We were looking at leasing to a company. We're not in it to get rich obviously, so we're going with the route which is the least headache for us.

Road King said...


This is a toughie.

Companies are required to do a employment check for the previous 10 years.

It basically depends on the company, though. Some employers (carriers) are more lenient about required experience than others. Some do not check credit ratings, but some do. You DO have driving experience, albeit it from a while back.

Insurance is a different animal, though. Since you only have 1 year of documented driving history, your rates may be higher, but since you are planning on partnering with your brother, and he has experience, that should help. Your good credit should also help.

I can't really answer your question. My advice would be to research the carriers you want to lease to, talk with them, be upfront, and see what they have to say. You may be pleasantly surprised, but no guarantees!

I'm sorry I can't give a better answer. Let us know what you find out, and Good Luck!

Anonymous said...

Hi road king......I've been reading a lot of your blogs. I currently work locally hauling overseas containers. I'm a company driver and do OK. like some others I've read about I dont have a big savings or fabulous credit and I do have a family to support. I see that my boss does extremely well and have met a few O/O that lease their truck and themselves that seem to and say they do very well. I do however have a relative looking to do some "investing" and is willing to help me get started. I am just on the fence about it cuz like I said I have a family to support so its like a must win situation. what are your thoughts and do you have any advise or direction??

Road King said...


I would advise you to stick with what you are doing.

As I have stated over and over, becoming a profitable OO is not easy.

There are many things to consider, the first being the maxim "never go into business with a relative." If you do decide to accept his help, would it be a loan (if so, have it in writing), or would that person be a partner (passive --silent, or active). If you agree to share the profits, what happens if you don't make any profits? Is he willing to accept the possibility of a loss (in other words, does he realize he could lose all of his investment?)

Use the interactive CPM calculator at to determine if a profit is even feasible.

Since your boss is doing "extremely well", does he lease OO's? If so, talk with and see what you could gross pulling for him, then run the numbers to see if it would be worth your while.

Keep in touch and let us know what you decide.

Good luck.

Deon said...

Hi Road King,

I just finished truck driving school, and I have no on the road experience. My family got together and purchased me a truck so now I am process of getting my insurance, and my authority. I already have my EIN and my USDOT number. My question to you is you think that it would be best for me to look for loads online or to join a company since I don't yet have any on the road experience?

Road King said...


Thank you for your comment.

WOW! Great family!

Since you have no experience, I would recommend that you lease your truck to a company. You do not need to have your own authority to lease on to a company -- this can save you a lot of money right off the bat. If all you have is a DOT number and EIN, I would not go any further in the process of getting your own authority.

If you lease your truck to a company, not only will you save a lot of up-front money, you will be able to learn a lot about the trucking industry without taking on a lot of the responsibility. You can always get your own authority later on, if you decide that is what you want to do.

I hope this helps. If you have more questions, feel free to ask.

Anonymous said...

Hi, I have been thinking of starting a trucking company, well start of with two trucks. I have been reading all your post and other info and I was wanting to see what you think about it and if you think I would succeed with the advantage I have. I work for a utility pole plant we have 10 trucks plus we have 4 other companies that lease to us, so I know I will have loads, and I will hire drivers and still work at my current job. I been working here for 11yrs and I make between 55k and 58k a year before taxes so I wont be depended on the money from the trucks for my bills, I would just have to make enough to cover the company at first. I mainly want to do this so hopefully within another 10yrs or so I will have enough trucks running that I can retire and just depend on the trucking company for income. I just wanted to see what you thought about it before I made this big jump and get myself in a hole. Oh and I would want to get my own authority not lease to the company I work for. Thanks

Road King said...


Thank you for reading my blog, and for writing.

You have a couple of advantages: you are already in the trucking business, and you will have a separate income.

The first thing you need to do is to research your start-up and operating costs and then use the Interactive CPM Calculator to see if you can make a profit.

When you get your own authority, and hire drivers, you will have expenses you would not have as an OO. First your vehicle insurance will be a lot more. Second, you will have payroll, employee and employer taxes, in addition to your regular licenses, permits and fuel taxes. You probably should hire a good trucking bookkeeping service, as the tax reporting and record keeping will be very complicated. You will need to set up safety, and drug and alcohol plans, company and defensive driving policies, driver qualification files, and maintain secured records on all of these, among other things.

Will you have enough money to pay your drivers before you get paid for the load? If not, you may have to use a factoring service (another expense).

Will you have the time to oversee all of this? Even if you hire someone to do the paperwork, there will be a myriad of things that will require your time. Who will do your truck maintenance? What will you do if a truck breaks down on the road? Who will find the parts or repair shop? How will you do an accident investigation, or find a place to send a driver for a post-accident mandatory drug/alcohol test?

These are just some of the things you need to give a very hard look, in addition to just "Can I make money?"

Only you can make the final decision, but I believe you need to think this through very carefully. I understand your dream, but frankly I think you are being overly optimistic as to your goals.

Please let us know what you decide, and if you do go for it, let us know how it goes.


KaiCie said...

Hello Road King!

My husband and I have just been offered to buy my father in laws truck that we have been driving for the last 2.5 years. We are leased on with a great company and have constant good paying loads.I have worked in my in-law's office and I have personally seen how much our truck brought in last year (2013.) We have been driving this truck so we know how it runs, and what maintenance has been done on it in that time period.

If we bought the truck we would still be leased with the same company. The questions I am wanting to ask are these: what paperwork, legal, and financial changes will there be taking on this truck, and since we will still be the ones driving the truck, do you think the income will be approx. the same? I know that depending on loads, maintenance, and other things the actual amount will be different.

Thank you for a informed blog and thank you for answering!


Road King said...


Thank you for writing.

Normally I try to discourage my readers from becoming owner operators, but in your case, I am going to make an exception.

You know the trucking business, you know the truck, you have access to the business records, and you will be leased to a company you are currently pulling for and you feel the rates are good.

You didn't give me enough information to fully answer your questions, but I will give you an overview. You need to read all of my blog, especially 9) What You Actually Need to Get Started and/or buy my ebook at Owner Operator 101.

You will have to have a state business license, and maybe a county and/or city license.

If you will be a partnership, LLC, or some other type of entity, you will need a FEIN (Federal Employer Identification number). If you don't purchase your equipment license through the company you are leased to (which I recommend buying your own), you would have to pay for those. Same with permits. Your father-in-law should be able to tell you who is responsible for these expenses -- BUT be sure to read your new lease before signing -- the company may have made some changes.

Will you need a lawyer for LLC or incorporation papers? Will you have to hire an accountant?

You will need insurance on your vehicle and some companies require to carry other insurance, also.

As to income, the loads should pay you the same as they are paying your father-in-law. If he is paying you to drive for him and still making a profit, then you should be able to make a profit also. Use the Interactive Cost per Mile (CPM) Calculator to Aid the Owner Operator to figure if you actually will be profitable.

Hope this helps somewhat. If you have other questions, feel free to ask.

Anonymous said...

Hello, great article & forum I am from New Mexico im willing to work only in NM and TX get my own authority, I will partner with my father who has cdl class A. I want my own authority and I will sign up for truck load board. They have a bid, I dont know how much should I bid? 2.0 PPM? Or 2.25. Also i have a savings of around 20k I bough my own truck a 2005 columbia with 478k miles which cost me 15k. Also how I can put money on my personal account and also on the buseness acount. Im going to do 50/50 with my father including tires, fuel everything. Im willing to buy my own authority. If I fail im willing to lease my truck to a company what are you tough about this. Thanks! Helpful forum.

Anonymous said...

Hello thank you for all the information you honestly share.
I would really appreciate your advice.
I would like to buy a freightliner truck and do business. This is all new to me. I am not expecting to drive the truck but lease it to a carrier.
Someone told me that the carrier will find the driver, be in charge of the trucks maintenance and pay to the owner(me) around 40K per year.
Well I do not know much about trucking business.
If all these is true, could you tell me where shoul I buy a truck? Is a used one a good option? Do I need CDL to buy one? Do I made a contract with the carrier that will put my truck to work ? Di I need a permit? Do I have to open my own business? I am in Texas. What shoul I be careful with?
Thanks in advance,

Road King said...


Thanks for the compliment!

You asked a lot of good questions. You should not guess about how much to bid. You need to know exactly how much it will cost you to run, then bid some amount over that -- enough to make you a nice profit. To find your cost, go to "Interactive Cost per Mile (CPM) Calculator to Aid the Owner Operator".

Yes, you should have a separate business account. Just go to your bank or credit union and tell them you want to open another account. Put part of your 20K in that account. Try not to mix the two (don't pay personal bills from your business account, and vice versa). If you and your father are going to share expenses, you will be partners. See: "How to Do Bookkeeping and Other Necessary Paperwork Permits and Taxes".

Before you get your own authority, I suggest you lease your truck to a company first. If you insist on getting your own authority, check out OOIDA's "Getting your Own Authority".

There are 100 other things you need to know. Might I suggest you read my book, "Owner Operator 101".

Good Luck. Keep us posted on how it all works out.

Road King said...

I got my comments answered in the wrong order. The above comment is for the person from NM.

This comment is for person in TX.

Thanks for the questions.

I won't say that a carrier will not do what you were told, but I have never heard of any hiring a driver, and taking care of the maintenance. Most truck owners lease their trucks to a carrier and operate it themselves (hence owner-operator [OO]). Sometimes a person will hire a driver to drive the truck they leased to a carrier. I strongly advise you NOT to do that.

You do not know what you would be getting into. As an owner, you would be responsible for the maintenance, the driver's wages, and all other expenses, including employer's taxes and responsibilities. You may make 40K a year, IF you are the OO, but I doubt very seriously if you would clear that much as an owner with a driver, as most OO's don't even clear that much.

Yes, a used truck could be a good buy. There are some reputable web sites that sell trucks, such as The Truck Paper, Commercial Truck Trader, Trucker to Trucker, and even eBay (but you have to know what you are doing, and be very careful. You need to know what to spec for the type of operation you will be doing.

If you are not going to drive, then you do not need a CDL. No, you do not need a CDL to buy a truck. YES, YES, YES you need a contract, whether you are an owner or an OO.

Yes, you will have to "open" your own business. You will need a state business license (and maybe a county and/or city one, too), insurance, pay taxes, a truck license (registration), and more. Permits may or may not be furnished by the carrier. Some will pay for them, some will order them, and deduct the cost from you pay check (called a settlement), or require you to do the ordering, paperwork, and pay for them.

You should be careful with pursuing this venture. Not to sound mean, but I don't think you have any idea of what you are contemplating. PLEASE read this entire blog. Consider reading my ebook, Owner Operator 101. There are 100's of things you need to know, most of which you don't even know enough about to ask the questions. You need to learn a lot more before you take this step. If this is something you really want to do, you will make the effort, and you WILL learn!

I wish you success. Let us know what you decide.

Thomas said...

Hi ! I really appreciate you putting this Blog together it is very helpful.

My name is Thomas and I am 35 years old. I am interested in becoming an owner operator once I retire from my current employer. I was a diesel engine mechanic for 8 years or longer with a transit company in Washington DC. I am still with the transit company but have entered into a new field which is elevator/escalator parts specialist. During my years I have driven dump trucks for a number of friends who are owner operators in that criteria of work. The dump truck field is up and down and weather along with who you know controls your success as a dump truck owner operator. I do have a class A CDL and I have had it for 15 years. My experience outside of dump trucks is that towed transit buses with a wreaker, semi tow truck. My plan once I retire is to drive for a reputable company such as Fedex Freight or TMC which is a flatbed hauling company that is willing to train for a year before going off on my own. My question to you is, will it be really worth my time and effort becoming an owner operator even though it has always been my dream. I have always wanted to be a truck driver , not to become well off financially but just for the fact I enjoy being around trucks as well as driving them. It will be 10 years from todays date until my retirement date. During that time if I was to set aside enough capital to become a owner operator would it be worth it ?

Road King said...


My short answer is, "Who in the world knows?"

Save your money. If things don;t work out, you will have a nice little nest egg for your retirement!

With the 'remote' possibility of remote controlled trucks, driverless trucks, etc. there may not even be any truck drivers in 10 years.

As regulations become more invasive, costly, and time consuming, you may not still want to drive then. Your health may fail, the economy may collapse, or any number of things could happen.

Of course, the government and shippers may realize that truck drivers (even OO's) are human beings. Rates may rise, and regulations may reflect the real world. Sorry, I forget I am writing advice, not a fairy tale.

So, I can't predict what will happen tomorrow, much less 10 years from now. As I said, save your money, and if you still want to be an OO, you will be ready. If not, you will be able to retire in Tahiti.

Thanks for writing.

Mike said...

I recently purchased a dodge sprinter used box truck 14' in nj where I live. Was wondering how best to register it and dot number?? I will be using it for business. Thanks

Anonymous said...

My husband just went operator owner...left here almost a month ago to get his truck none was ready so he sat there for 2wks until he got bored and took a loaner truck until his was rsady...this is his 1st time going owner operator and the truck broke down after driving it for they're telling him it's going to take a week to fix it bc they're backed in the meanwhile his original truck that he selected is not ready...ruff rider...

Road King said...


Thank you for sharing.

This (or something similar) happens more often than you think. That is why I and financial specialists recommend having several months capital put aside before you even think about making that purchase.

Good luck. I hope things get straightened out and go better for you in the future.

sirsheikh said...

Is it better to lease my truck to a company or get my own authority? Which one will help me save more?

Road King said...


Thanks for a very good question,

There are two reasons why I (and many other OO's) do not get their own authority: Cost and paperwork.

In addition to the insurance an OO must carry on his truck, a carrier (if you have your own authority, you are a carrier), must have additional insurance, which is very expensive. You may have seen where the Feds are trying to increase the mandatory limits, which will become so expensive it will most likely drive a lot of OO's with their own authority out of business.

The paperwork required of a carrier is horrendous. Even if you have just one truck, you have to have a written safety plan, a written maintenance program, drug and alcohol program, get your own permits, and pay quarterly fuel taxes, among other things. When you apply for your authority, you must have a "secure place" such as a locked file cabinet to keep these records in. The DOT will come to your house, or wherever these records are kept, and inspect your records and make sure they are being secured, and you are subject to periodic inspections.

You have to find your own customers and negotiate contracts, or sign up for and pay for load boards.

These are things the carrier you lease to do for you. Yes, you pay them to do that. This is done by them keeping a portion, usually about 25%, of what the customer pays for the load. Where you may only be able to have one or two contracts, your carrier can have dozens, so your selection of freight is much greater. Also, if you want to go on vacation, or your truck breaks down, you may not be able to fulfill your contract, and you might lose it. I have the freedom to go where I am willing (not always where I want), and only work as much as I want (or need to, to pay the bills).

Most carriers who hire OO's do not have forced dispatch, which means you have the right to pick and choose your loads. Different carriers operate differently, of course, but they are basically the same. Most have several customers, with a range of areas they serve; therefore, you can run short or long, whichever you prefer. This is not written in stone. On a certain day you may want to go from Pittsburgh to Houston, but they only have loads going to Jacksonville, Atlanta, and Los Angeles. You have the choice to take one of those loads, or stay home and wait on something else.

Because of these variables, it is important to check out a carrier before leasing on. Some might only have customers in the Northeast, and you don't want to run there, so you need to find a carrier that has freight where you like to run. It is also very important to read the lease carefully before signing, to make sure exactly what they will and will not do for you and what you are required to do.

I would advise you to lease on to a company, then after you learn more about trucking and how things work,you might decide to get your own authority.

I have a friend who has been an OO for many years, always leased to a carrier. He is smart and a good businessman. He decided to get his own authority. It cost him quite a bit for his authority, extra insurance, and meeting record keeping and safety requirements. After six months, he gave up his authority and went back to being a leased OO, due to the hassle and expense.

Hope this helps, and good luck.

Brian s said...

Hi, I just received my class A. My father I law owns a construction company and has a peterbilt with a flat bed trailer. I'd like to use the tractor to do side work. What do I need to do to start finding loads to haul? Thank you.

Road King said...

Brian s,

Contact shippers in your area. Search the internet for load boards. Read some trucking forums. Check out Facebook. There are dozens of trucking FB pages. Loads are posted on my FB page almost daily (I do not endorse any of these). My FB page: Owner Operator (trucking)

Thank you for your question.

Anonymous said...

Hello have been in the business since 93 and had cold feet ever since I am now trying to buy my first truck and lease it on to the company I'm with now the problem is my spouse she is so worried about failing but I I know we can make this work if I work hard and watch the spending but trying to convince her of that will take a act of god.

Road King said...


Your wife is probably correct. Now is not a good time to try to become an OO. Freight rates are lower than they have been for years. Hopefully after the election, things will improve.

You do have some advantages: You know trucking and you have a company you are familiar with to lease on to. Go to the CPM calculator and figure your expenses to get an idea if you will be able to make a profit. Since your are currently working for a company, you should be able to make fairly accurate estimates, as you should know how they operate and what they pay.

The support of your wife is very important. If she is unwilling or can't understand why the truck comes first, you will have problems.

Good Luck. Let us know what you decide and how it works out.

shaby vines said...

20 years ago, and in many instances, they are lower. Most of the money you make will go back into the truck.vehicle check

Esperanza Moreno said...

Hi I recently quit my job of 20yrs and received a severance package. My son is 23 yrs old and drives a rig for a company and we are both trying to decide if we should should my money to buy a rig cash and have him drive it along with my brother that also drive a rig for a company as I can do the books and any paperwork. I am very smart when it comes to not spending money unless nessasary. I'm not sure if this is something that I should purse. I haven't been able to find employment as of yet which has alredy been 5 months so I've been praying this is the right choice for me and my son so if you can give me some light I would appreciate it. Thank you!

Road King said...

Esperanza Moreno,

As you know I don't encourage anyone to become an OO. However, as your son and brother are both already in trucking, you do have an advantage over many others. Now is a good time to make this move, as freight is up in all sectors (van, reefer, flat). Of course, there is no guarantee that it will stay up.

Paying cash for a truck is always nice, as it takes some of the burden off of you trying to make truck payments. If you decide to go that route, I recommend you buy a good used truck.

Also, don't spend all of your cash on a truck. You absolutely need to have cash in reserve. I also suggest that you lease your truck to a company, at least for a while, until you learn more about all the ins and outs. If you want to get your own authority, you can always do that later.

You might want to check out my ebook at The Only eBook You Need for Becoming a Truck Owner Operator.

Also, there is a lot of information on my Facebook page at Facebook group 'Owner Operator (trucking)' There are a lot of OO's who are glad to answer your questions about who to lease to, insurance, etc. (Caution, read carefully and take these answers with a grain of salt. I can't guarantee that all answers are going to be helpful.)

Good luck and keep us posted as to how things are working out for you.



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