A Guide On Owner-operator Trucking Rates Per Mile

November 21, 2023

An overview of owner-operator trucking rates per mile

The owner of the truck business is always on the go. However, many times, a small-scale business owner needs to pause and ensure that his business is generating the revenue it should be. The owner-operator trucking rate per mile is a freight paid by the shipper or broker to the carrier to haul a load for each mile the carrier had driven towards the destination from the point of beginning. Hence, the truck rates being calculated on the basis of per mile makes the calculation of the number of miles between the starting point and destination the most essential aspect in freight calculation.

Factors determining owner-operator trucking rate per mile:

There are several factors which are held accountable when the trucking rate per mile is calculated. 

Distance of travel

The distance between the point of the beginning and the destination is an important part of figuring the rates per mile. It is highly significant to have the correct mileage from the start, avoid any inconvenience during the journey and get accurate rates per mile. GeoTab is a platform with a nexus of 3.5 million vehicles, providing the finest service for tracking distances covered. Such platforms turn out to be of great help to truck owners and drivers throughout their business journey.  

The shipment's weight

The second most important factor stands is the load of the shipment. The weight of the load should be managed in order to control costs. In order to maintain a standard owner-operator trucking rate per mile, one needs to consider heavy haul trucking rates per mile, number of passengers, FTL (full truck load) trucking rates, etc.

Shipment Density

It is important to know how much area is being consumed by a shipment in the truck. Once the weight of the shipment is known, it's quite simple to determine the shipment density, as all that needs to be done is the division of cargo weight by its cubic feet.  

Freight Classification

The average freight price per mile is also important to be known when finding the rate per mile. The NMFTA (National Motor Freight Traffic Association) has established 18 classifications of shipments which affect freight rates per mile.

How much does an owner-operator truck driver make?

The owner-operator pay per mile is around $1.50 to $2.50. Whereas the average rate per mile for owner-operators in 2023 is around $2.51. The owner-operator earns the benefits mainly through cargo jobs, in-house mechanics, and gas station location optimization. Being an owner-operator of trucking is a great way to earn money and the gross annual income of the owner-operators on average in 2023 falls between $95000 to $118000.


The owner-operator truck driving salary pay depends upon the acquired experience, the types of loads, the amount of load the truck carries, time spent on the road, business management skills, etc. In a nutshell, the more responsibility you are ready to take on, the potential to make a higher owner-operator trucking salary after expenses increase. 

The expenses and their effects on owner-operator's salary:

The expenses for owner-operators can be broken down into two categories: fixed expenses and variable expenses. The fixed expenses do not change and need to be paid weekly, monthly and yearly. Whereas the variable expenses keep changing from week to week or even day to day. The truck owner-operator's salary is reduced from the gross pay calculated annually, and he or she takes 70% of the earnings home while spending 30% on expenses.

Fixed Costs:


You have to pay for registration and permitting every year for your trucks or trailers. Apart from this, even if you have paid off for your equipment, you will still be paying the monthly loan payments.

The cost of equipment is around 17% of all the equipment cost, around 40 cents of     

owner-operator trucking rates per mile.


Considering physical damage, general liability and truck insurance in this category, it is paid weekly, monthly or yearly but as a fixed cost. 

The insurance cost is estimated at around 6% of the expense budget or 13% of owner-operator trucking rates per mile.

Property and Yards:

The trucks or trailers owned need to be stored in a place. The rent for the yards storing the vehicles needs to be paid on a monthly basis. However, if you own a place of your own, the maintenance cost, taxes and insurance need to be paid for. Moreover, with variance in the cost of real estate from region to region, the amount can vary for different owner-operators.

Back office tools and services:

Truck owner-operators can use platforms like Samsara, an Elog book providing the platform to the drivers and truck owners to digitize their business and maintain the records for things like fueling, driver workflows, equipment monitoring, etc. This service certainly adds ease in keeping all the tracks of the business for truck owner-operators and adds efficiency as it also provides video-based safety, which provides directions to the riders on the road and helps in heavy object detection. Few of the operators work without using software, but the minimum requirement of having an account system can bring the expense of around 1% of the owner-operator trucking rates per mile for example platform like Samsara charges $350 per year.

Variable Costs:


The biggest one. Fuel is usually bought on a week-to-week basis however the prices fluctuate yearly mostly. The cost of fuel gobbles around 25% of the truck driver's operating budget. The cost of the fuel is around 57 cents of owner-operator trucking rates per mile.


Along with paying the heavy use tax as an owner-operator, you will also be paying the fuel taxes and a business tax. The tax rate solely depends upon your business structure as the structure determines whether the federal corporate tax rates are implied or self-employment tax rates. 

The cost fluctuates with one's income and as per the tax law.


Older trucks require more maintenance than the new trucks. The new trucks may have a higher purchasing cost but require less expenditure over maintenance. This factor takes up about 5% of the expenses or 12 cents of owner-operator trucking rates per mile.

Miscellaneous driving expenses:

The payment for parking, gloves, meals on the company dime, small tools, etc, adds up and requires a small sum of money to be paid off. These things have variable costs with time. These few additional requirements do not sound big to be spent upon but are a constant need. The expenditure upon these needs is about 2% of the budget or 5 cents of owner-operated trucking rates per mile.


In a nutshell, these all expenses affect the annual earnings of the owner-operator and the truck owner-operator trucking salary after expenses reduce to on average $50,000 to $60,000 annually.

Owner operator's need of a freight broker

The owner-operators receive beneficial service from the freight brokers and an excess to a wide trucking industry. Through a freight broker, an owner-operator can establish a crucial link with the global supply chain. The freight brokerage companies can help in keeping the trucks loaded and support in maximizing the number of paid miles truckers cover. In short, the freight brokers enable an owner-operator to maintain a smooth flow of owner-operator truck driver salary. 


Below are some main reasons for using a freight broker.


Instead of diverting your attention from the business towards the problem of freight transportation leave this issue to be solved by the professional. The freight brokers move things in a cost-effective and efficient manner so they are best equipped to handle the owner-operator's shipping needs while they focus on their business.


The freight brokers being well experienced in the field bring with them this valuable experience. The freight broker has the technology and resources necessary to supply you with visibility and reporting capabilities.


At times of uncertainty and fluctuations within the business, the freight broker will stand with you. No matter what your shipping patterns are like, whether there are dry spells or bursts of growth, the broker is capable of working with you under all circumstances. The owner-operator does not need to worry about the irregularities in the shipment volumes as it's the job of the freight broker to ensure you have the room when it's needed.


The freight brokers possess the power of having vast networks and connections which is fruitful to the owner-operator. These connections give the owner-operator the buying power and reduce the shipping costs. The higher number of connections means more capacity. Therefore, having a huge number of relations in this trucking business is of massive value and assistance.


A freight broker worth his salt considers the owner-operator his business partner. Both parties benefit from the partnership. For a freight broker, the success of the owner-operator is important. As the business of the owner-operator grows, he has more products to pass along to the broker to ship. Hence, it's a win-win situation for both.

How To Find Best Freight Brokers For Owner Operators?

It is important to find a good freight broker. A good freight broker brings experience and expertise in the business. There are several aspects to be looked upon when finding the best owner-operator.


Choose a freight broker who performs transparent communication. Transparency is important in every business but key in the trucking business. A freight broker should always be transparent and detailed when it comes to telling rates, fees, and payment terms.

Help in finding Diverse Loads.

The best freight broker for owner-operators is the one that partners with a diverse range of shippers. This aspect helps the owner-operators to find the best loads and keep their trucks moving on the road. In conclusion, varying types of load lead to getting a variety of clients.

Good Customer Support

Best freight brokers for owner-operators are those who support the owner-operator in building good customer support. Good customers are significant in the trucking business whether you're an operator, company driver or play any other role in the industry. 

Well Experienced Freight Broker

Experience matters, most importantly in the trucking business. One should look for a freight broker who understands the inputs and outputs of the work. An experienced broker will not just bring the load to the owner-operator but will share valuable insight which will help owners to form business strategies to increase owner-operator trucking rates per mile and navigate ups and downs.

All the above-mentioned traits within a freight broker will help the owner-operator continue its business in a good rhythm. Each quality mentioned above impacts the success, profit margins, relationship with carriers and access to the best loads. The truck owner operator salary can be increased by having a good freight broker and in short give success to the business.


All in all, how much the owner-operator makes per mile depends on several factors. Fixed and variable expenses, shipment weight, distance covered and a good freight broker are major reasons impacting the truck owner-operator's salary. In order to manage the trucking business in short owner-operator rates per mile services like Samsara, GeoTab and other famous services Motive helps millions of drivers to carry their business in an effective way. These services are always there to boost an owner-operator's trucking business by boosting the owner-operator pay per mile which in turn improves the owner-operator truck driver's salary. Services like Samsara and many more help the owner-operator keep track of a handful of important things that help the owner evaluate how much an owner-operator truck driver makes and figure out the ups and downs in average owner-operator pay per mile.

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