Semi Truck Driving Down the Highway

Everything You Need to Know About Owner-Operator Jobs

Owner-operators are self-employed truckers or small trucking/transportation business owners. Most owner-operators start out as company truck drivers, which helps them develop the skills, experience, industry knowledge, and fiscal resources they need to launch independent ventures.

If you’re interested in becoming an owner-operator, read on to learn more about career insights, advantages, job requirements, and more.

Duties & Responsibilities of an Owner-Operator

The typical lifestyle of an owner-operator differs greatly from a company truck driver. Company drivers park their trucks at the end of the work week and go home; they don’t typically have to worry about vehicle maintenance and repairs, contract negotiations, people pleasing, and the rest of the responsibilities an owner-operator manages daily.

The primary responsibilities of owner-operators include:

  • Scheduling Routine Fleet Maintenance & Repairs as Needed
  • Maintaining Records of Deliveries, Maintenance,, & Repairs
  • Preserving the Fleet & Related Equipment
  • Developing & Managing Contracts
  • Communicating With Clients
  • Planning Delivery Routes

While not all do, some owner-operators may also have specialty areas, like oversized, refrigerated, or hazardous materials. Some larger trucking companies will even collaborate with owner-operators, allowing them to use their own equipment and schedule preferences.

Career Insights for Owner-Operators in 2022

The trucking industry is a competitive landscape. That means that there are plenty of opportunities available, even for owner-operators without a lot of experience. As long as you satisfy all of the requirements needed to become an owner-operator, finding work is fairly easy.

According to the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI), 80.1% of owner-operators are very satisfied or satisfied with their income and quality of life. As long as a person is comfortable with life on the road and can deal with potential eight-plus hour days, owner-operator jobs can be quite enjoyable.

How Much Do Owner-Operators Make?

The average income for owner-operators varies considerably based on the state of operation. For instance, Indeed reports that the average base salary of an owner-operator in Michigan is $229,417, but, of course, the actual wage will depend upon the owner-operator’s fleet and years of experience, as well as any special certifications he or she may hold.

And according to Zippia, “Owners/operators make $167,288 per year on average, or $80.43 per hour, in the United States.” The low end of the range is estimated at $114,974, and the high-end estimate is $457,774. So, supporting an enjoyable and secure lifestyle is very possible.

Advantages of Being an Owner-Operator

In addition to general job satisfaction among owner-operators and higher pay, there are other advantages to becoming an owner-operator, including:

  1. You dictate when you drive, where you drive, and what you haul.
  2. Consistent high demand for trucking and transportation services.
  3. You are self-employed—the boss!
  4. You own the truck that you drive.

Becoming an Owner-Operator

Truck driver man sitting in cabin giving thumbs-up

Life on the road isn’t for everyone, but becoming an owner-operator can be a great option for people who already love driving.

The qualifications needed to become an owner-operator are essentially the same as the qualifications needed to become a standard truck driver. Of course, it’s also important to develop experience as a commercial truck driver before attempting to launch your own company.

In general, to become an owner-operator, you must:

  1. Meet age requirements. Age requirements typically range from 21 to 25 years old, and vary by state.
  2. Have a clean driving record.
  3. Obtain a Class-A commercial driver’s license (CDL).
  4. Earn any specialty certifications you’ll need to haul the goods you intend to (e.g. HAZMAT).
  5. Have prior commercial vehicle driving experience.
  6. Purchase or lease a truck and register it with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association (FMCSA).
  7. Purchase truck insurance

If you are forming a new business enterprise, you’ll also need to ensure that every transportation vehicle you own has a unique six-digit motor carrier (MC) number. The MC number gives you the Authority to Operate.

Lastly, if you’re starting a transportation company with multiple vehicles, you’ll need to hire qualified CDL drivers, create a routine maintenance program for your fleet, and always stay up-to-date with the most current Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations.

Learn More about Owner-Operator Opportunities at TSI

For more than four decades, TSI has helped new and experienced owner-operators establish and grow their operations. We currently have attractive owner-operator opportunities for drivers who are at least 22 years old, have a CDL A, and have at least one year of verifiable OTR tractor-trailer experience completed within the last three years. If you’re interested in learning more about our available owner-operator jobs, please contact TSI today for more details.