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Owner Operator vs Company Driver: The Pros and Cons

There are 3.5 million people whose sole job is to get into a truck and drive. If long drives on the open road sound right up your alley, the trucking industry is calling your name. 

Are you thinking it’s time to consider a new career?

Maybe you’ve known you’ve wanted to be a driver for quite some time. Perhaps this is a totally new idea. Either way, you’ve got to learn about owner operator vs company driver jobs in this industry. 

If you’re considering becoming a truck driver, you have plenty of options to weight. Sit back and buckle up. Here are the pros and cons you need to know before you become a driver.  

Owner Operator Vs Company Driver 

Both of these drivers get to take on a new adventure every time they hop in their truck. Although these drivers do the same job, they have different responsibilities and lifestyles.

An owner operator is a truck driver who owns their own tractor-trailer or truck.  They have a couple of options for operation. You can truck as a self-employed independent contractor or lease your truck to a company.

company driver works for a trucking company. As an employee, you are supplied a truck or tractor-trailer by the company. They adhere to the company’s requirements and schedules. 

As long as you do the training and you’re older than 18, you can do this job. Here’s the breakdown of what you’re getting into with either option. 

Owner Operator 

If you’re thinking of driving for yourself, these are the pros and cons of being an owner operator. 

Pro: You’re at the top of the totem pole.

You’re the boss so your schedule is flexible. You have more say in when you’re working and when you can take off to be home. You also get to decide how many loads you haul. 

Pro: You pick the equipment you prefer. 

With the right budget, you can customize the truck you’ve always wanted. You’re not stuck with a worn-out community truck you have to share. 

Pro: You get more money in your paycheck.

Since you’re in charge you’ll be taking on the insurance and risk alone. The profit doesn’t have to be divided up by other drivers. 

Pro: The freedom to bring a four-legged co-pilot. 

Some driving companies won’t ensure your pets. As your own boss, you can decide if you want to bring along your pets for some much-needed driving company.

Con: Prepare to invest quite a bit of cash when you’re starting out. 

You have to be willing to front the startup money. Costs include purchasing/leasing a truck, heavy vehicle use taxes, insurance, and registrations. 

Con: You have to reinvest in your business.

To be a successful owner operator means smaller take-home pay amounts. Your paycheck will have to be split up so you can afford driving expenses, upkeep, and emergencies.

Con: It’s a long-term commitment. 

If you wake up one day and want to get out of the trucking industry, it’s not as easy when you’re your own boss. There’s a chance you’ll lose the money you put down as your initial investment. 

Company Driver 

These are the perks and the headaches of being a company driver. 

Pro: Works stays at work. 

Once you finish your hauls, you’re done for the day. You’re not worried about arranging haul pickups and drop-offs. This gig means low stress and more times for family and hobbies.

Pro: Easy transitions to other jobs if you change your mind. 

The decision to become a company driver is a much smaller risk than becoming an operator owner. If you end up deciding the driving life isn’t for you, it’s easier to change career paths. 

Pro: It’s easy to find work. 

There’s currently a shortage of truck drivers. This means job security galore. Companies are constantly looking for new hires. 

Pro: You don’t have to fork out start-up money.

To become a company driver all you need to do is get your commercial driver’s license training. You won’t have to commit to any big investments. If you take the course full time, you’ll be ready to go in as short as three weeks. 

Con: Working as a company driver means you’ll make less money. 

You’re a risk for a company to take you on since you’ll have to be added to the insurance claim. Your paycheck will be less compared to an owner operator. On the bright side, you’re not paying for truck payments or insurance. 

Con: You’ll have less time to be home. 

You don’t get to make the schedule. You’ll be on the road more than you might want. You’ll have to get creative when planning family events or downtime. 

Con: The truck you’re given is the truck you get. 

You might not have many truck options. You won’t be able to customize the truck the way you want. Expect to have a basic model design that gets you from point A to point B. 

Con: Prepare for slip seating. 

Think of slip seating as the trucker’s version of musical chairs. This means you won’t get a consistent truck for every haul. 

Your Final Decision 

The choice between owner operator vs company driver can be tricky. You should spend time examining the pros and cons of each driving option.

Your decision boils down to what you’re looking for in this career. Reflect on your financial situation, your life goals, and your schedule expectations. 

You’re going to want to do your research on trucking companies for either position. Interested in exploring your options? Check out the driving career options we have to offer.