How to Become an Owner Operator Truck Driver?

November 2, 2023

Most truck drivers consider leaving the employee role because they feel tied down working for someone else's company.


Almost every truck driver, whether new to the industry or a seasoned veteran, has had visions about having their own big rig and hitting the road to make big money.

Some truckers just do not want to drive for a corporation.


They wish the independence, freedom, and profitability that come with owning and operating a business. If you are one of them and thinking about becoming an owner-operator in the trucking business but need to learn howto become an owner-operator driver, this blog is a big guide for you.


There are several things you should consider. Not everyone's suited for the trucking owner-operator lifestyle, but if you believe it would be the next best thing for you, there are many things to think about and things you should know before going in deep and making a lot of money. So let's start with:


How to Become an Owner Operator

When we make up our minds and decide to go for owning and operating a business independently, the first question in our mind is how to become an owner-operator and how to start. So before we go about how to become an owner-operator, first discuss who is owner operator in detail.


What is an owner-operator Truck Driver?

An owner-operator truck driver is someone who not only drives the truck but also controls and manages the company that runs it.Owner-operator duties include these responsibilities:


Duties & Responsibilities of Owner Operator

●    Finding new clients and keeping in relation with existing ones

●    Driving, loading, and unloading the rig

●    Route planning and other administrative duties

●    Purchasing or leasing a rig and equipment  

●    Upkeep of your rig and equipment Insurance and other overhead costs

●    Keeping the required financial records for any firm  

●    Keeping DOT records


What is the difference between an Owner-Operator and a Company's Truck Driver?

Unlike companies truck drivers, owner-operators have complete control over which tasks they accept and which they avoid. It also implies that you have complete control over which work you accept and which you reject. For example, if you dislike performing a particular sort of work or working for companies in specific sectors, you may avoid those kinds of jobs or concentrate on the work you prefer.


You can also set your own charges, which can be profitable if you're confident and don't undercharge.


Freight agent as owner-operator:

An owner-operator is also considered a freight agent. This is the person who is in charge of the business that hires or supervises other drivers in all situations and scenarios. If you still run your rig,this may be a lot of work if you go it alone, so this is typically only suitable option if you have a business mind and wish to step back (in part or completely) from driving.  


How to Start a Trucking Business Owner-Operator Successfully


Startup Expenses You'll Need to Budget For Running a Trucking Business:

Being an owner-operator in the trucking industry is not one of the very few businesses you can start on the roads without having any financial backing. Whether you already own a rig, want to buy one, or want to lease one, there are additional expenses other than the vehicle itself. Here are some of the expenses you'll need to budget for:


●    Legal costs and licenses - we'll go into them in the coming section, but getting started will cost between $100 and $1,500, with some fees paid yearly.

●     Maintenance of trucking equipment is not inexpensive. According to estimates, maintenance costs $15,000 per year, with annual tire prices of approximately $4,000 for an18-wheeler. The larger the rig, the higher the costs.

●    Loans or leases taken out to purchase or lease your rig as well as meet any other starting expenses.

●    Company, Driver & Vehicle Insurance.

●    Expenses for living (including your own health insurance) until your company begins covering them.  Marketing includes a website and other advertisements as needed.


Do the necessary research on how much it will cost to get your business start and working? You may usually save money by bootstrapping,but make sure you don't cut expenses where you shouldn't.


Build a Business Plan

To build a business plan, figure out how you want to run your new company. You have two choices:  

  1. Run your own business with     your own power.
  2. You can rent your vehicle     to a motor carrier.


1. Run your own business with your own power:

It allows you to make all decisions, expand your business,and eventually generate more money. To become the go-to person for clients of a particular kind who require a particular service from you or in a particular area, you must market your company, establish connections, and try to identify your niche. This is the option to choose if you want to be a free agent, with the possibility of growing in the future to have other drivers working for you.


2. You can rent your vehicle to a motor carrier:

Leasing to a motor carrier means you are self-employed but have an agent acting on your behalf to ensure you have work. They can also cover some of the payments connected with doing business as an owner-operator.If you want to be self-employed and have some independence but are concerned bout your abilities to get work and promote yourself, this is an excellent alternative. The disadvantage here is that they take a cut of their portion oft he labor.


Establish a Business Entity

Engage with a reputable accountant to assist you in choosing which sort of business structure is ideal for your new business. You can form a single proprietorship, partnership, LLC, or corporation. Each of these divisions has a distinct level of liability, and the tax rates vary depending on your working state.


Obtain a commercial driver's license (CDL).

If you have a CDL already, you don't need to get it again,but If not, you'll need to learn how to get a CDL before becoming an owner-operator. The FMCSA provides step-by-step directions to get you started.Depending on the sort of commercial vehicles you want to drive and the types of freight you want to move, you may additionally need specialized license classes and certifications.


Understand the Federal Requirements for Owner-Operators

●     Taxon Use of Heavy Vehicles

If you run a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) weighing more than 55,000 pounds, you must pay HVUT. This weight is unladen, implying a fully equipped rig with no load. HVUT is a yearly charge that varies by the size of your vehicle.

Vehicles weighing between 55,000 and 75,000 pounds will be charged $100 per year, with an extra $22 charged for every 1,000 pounds beyond55,000 pounds. This implies that the lowest cost will be $100, and the highest fee will be $530. If your CMV exceeds 75,000 pounds, you will be charged a fixed cost of $550. Also, If you drive a CMV fewer than 5,000 miles per year,you can request for an exemption from taxation using IRS form 2290.


●     International Fuel Tax Agreement (IFTA)

You may be required to file under the International Fuel Tax Agreement (IFTA) as an owner-operator. Those who file simply record their gasoline consumption and pay the appropriate taxes. If you operate out of a qualified state, you must register with IFTA every year. In most states, you must file your IFTA gasoline taxes quarterly.

If you drive a vehicle with two axles and an average gross rate of over 26,000 pounds, or if you drive a vehicle with more than two axles( no matter what the weight), you must show two decals on the cab's outside and carry a copy of your IFTA license.

You must apply through your home state agency with your US DOT number, federal business number, and registered business name.


Apply for a US DOT and MC number.

The majority of owner-operators require a US DOT number, but not all. This number is required if you want to transport passengers, transfer hazardous materials, or deliver interstate shipments.

You may additionally require an MC number if you are moving regulated materials. A number needed for "authority to operate" is an MC number.


Register a BOC-3 Form

The BOC-3 (blanket of coverage) form identifies an agent who may submit legal papers on your behalf and is required by the federal government for motor carriers, brokers, and freight forwarders.


Decide Choosing Whether to Buy or Lease a Truck

Buying your own truck is not only exciting, but it also comes with the excitement of starting something new. The positive aspect is that buying a truck (and other vehicles) will add value to your company. Ensure you thoroughly analyze what you need to perform and get something that will easily handle it.  


If you don't want to buy a semi truck entirely, there are several options for leasing one. Like leasing an automobile, you'll discover organizations eager to lease your vehicle to you, though the cost may be excessively high. Search around and understand how the lease will affect your bottom line.Lease operator criteria differ from company to company, so discover those that meet your needs and ensure they are well-rated before proceeding.


Becoming a new business owner and finding yourself unable to turn a profit due to excessive lease payments is the last thing you want to happen. For example, a Percent of Revenue lease is an excellent approach to ensure you pay it back (typically with more flexible terms). Just make sure it's something that you are capable of paying for.


Get Trucking Insurance

A valid owner-driver must have insurance; however, the type of coverage you require and can obtain depends on your driving style. Those seeking to operate with a motor carrier will frequently discover that the motor carrier provides some insurance coverage, but it is frequently insufficient.

Ensure that you get coverage that protects you in all scenarios, not just what is required to drive legally. If you work for a motor carrier, you may require the following insurance policies.


Physical Damage Coverage:

In the case that your vehicle is involved in an accident,physical damage coverage will pay for the repairs.  

Non-Trucking Liability Insurance:

This insurance protects drivers when the motor carrier does not employ them.  

Motor Truck Cargo Coverage:

Motor truck cargo coverage protects whatever goods you are transporting if they are damaged or stolen while in transit.  

Lease gap insurance:

Lease gap insurance protects you in the unlikely situation that your vehicle is totaled and its worth is less than what you still owe on the lease.


Get Your First Load

Load boards are the most typical means for owner-operators to find work. Brokers and freight forwarders will list the freight that needs to be transported and when and where it needs to be transferred. Some of the most well-known load boards include the DAT load board, Landstar load board, and Truckstop load board. However, there are several more load boards available to help you locate steady employment around the country.

Remember that access to some of the greatest load boards maybe an additional business expenditure for you. When starting as an owner-operator, you might want to look at free load boards.


Keep DOT Records and Documentation

Being a CMV driver comes with administrative responsibilities, but being an owner-operator magnifies these multiple times.You must maintain accurate DOT records, keep track of payments and other financial issues, and submit your taxes on time.

If this isn't what you're good at, consider hiring someone to assist you a few hours per week to help you remain on top of things; working with a DOT compliance partner is the most effective way to guarantee that you fulfill your DOT record-keeping requirements.


Keep Track of Your Taxes

Along with the HVUT and IFTA taxes mentioned above,owner-operators must pay business and self-employment taxes. Because tax rates vary by state, it's essential to consult with your accountant to be sure that you'll be able to file and pay following your particular company's needs.


Conclusion- How to Start Owner Operator Trucking Business

Finally, you understand what it takes to become an owner-operator. You can clearly see how it may be one of the finest moves you'll ever make in your professional life, but it's not one to go into without clear understanding of your expenses vs. profit.


Conduct research and speak with any close companions who have already made the switch. With a realistic expectation of what to expect,you can start as an owner-operator.

It is an exciting yet stressful journey of starting as an owner-operator,  From obtaining your DOT number and operating permission to getting all necessary insurances and clearing your new entrant safety audit.


Why Choose Cargox for Owner-Operator Trucking?

●    Dependability: Cargox is a 100% owner-operator trucking company known for its reliability.

●    Variety of Trailers: They offer various trailer options, from dry vans to flatbeds and more.

●    Safety and Efficiency: Cargox prioritizes safety, reliability, and efficiency in their operations.

●    Support for Drivers:They provide resources and support to ensure driver success.

●    Customer Satisfaction: Cargox values on-time, quality deliveries, and cost savings for custom

●    Work-Life Balance: Their pay structure allows for a better work-life balance for drivers.

●    Cutting-Edge Technology: Cargox uses technology to ensure organized and timely deliveries.

●    Comprehensive Training: They offer comprehensive training to maximize drivers' potential.


Join Cargox, where your success as an owner-operator is the company's top priority.

Interesting articles

Owner Operator Expenses - Everything You Need to Know

The Benefits of a Truck Pre-Trip Inspection and What’s its Checklist

Over the Road Trucking: How Does it Work and What Are the Demands?

Truck Factoring: What You Need to Know

All About the Owner-Operator Lease Agreement