Becoming an Owner Operator Truck Driver
So you've decided to become an owner operator truck driver? You've made it a good decision. Over the road trucking and local truck driving is not going away anytime soon. There's a saying ”Trucks run this country”, and this is true. Without truck drivers there would be very few things that we could own or do. Just imagine, all the things that you purchase either at a brick and mortar store, or restaurant, or online – these things have come to you from some sort of transportation. And most likely it came to you from a truck. Trucking appears to be an almost recession proof job, even with higher fuel prices. This job is not going away anytime soon.
But would you like to work for yourself, and be your own owner operator and own your own business? This may be a great idea for you! To do this you must become an independent contractor, that is, you will bid for jobs, set your rates, and are responsible for your own taxes. You will run your business like any other small business, and there are lots of learning curves in this business.
First you need to ask yourself some questions. Is the trucking life really for you? Is this job a job you would want to do for days, months and years on end? Is spending time away from your home and family, sometimes for months at a time, a big issue in your life? Does hours and hours of isolation in different parts of the country become boring for you? Does running a small business seem daunting? Do you know how to do basic maintenance and repair on your truck?
These are all great questions and one's that you must ask yourself before you become an owner – operator of your own truck. Be aware that truck driving is a commodity business. The only thing that matters is price. Fuel prices, MPG, or just simply how much are being paid to haul a load. Sometimes working in a commodity type business means you must simply undercut everyone in price, including yourself. Your profit margins may be razor thin, but you must continue. Trucking is not the romantic business that it's reported to be, the way it was romanticized in the movies in the seventies. It's a great job, but it is a hard job, and one that includes lots of hard work.
You will first want to have some experience under your belt. You probably already have this. But if not, you'll want to spend some quality hours, days, weeks and possibly months behind the wheel of whatever type truck that you want to own and operate. This will give you experience and knowledge in this business.
The first thing you may want to do is take small business courses, and you can do this at your local community college. You can also join your local SBA, or small business association. There are many of people there with years of experience in all types of businesses that can be a great help to you. You may find these two things, classes and the SBA, to be invaluable assets on your way to owning and operating your own trucking business.
So what are your first steps as the new owner operator? Well, the first is obvious. You want to get your CD a license, which is a test of your skills and knowledge of truck driving. This will be administered by your local department of motor vehicles. You'll want to study for this exam before you do. Next, you want to spend some valuable hours behind the wheel that truck. There's simply no other way to get the experience that you need. Drive at least a year or more before deciding on owning your own rig.
Next is the biggie. This would be giving your own truck. If you don't already own, you may have to lease your new truck. Tractor trailers can cost up to $50,000 and you would have to get this money either from borrowing or if you planned wisely, you have saved this money. You'll actually be leasing your truck not actually owning it. However the payments in terms of these loans are the same as any other bank loan. You want to carefully choose the bank, possibly one that works with truck drivers. Of course, make sure that the truck you are leasing comes from a reputable dealer. Make sure that the truck is thoroughly inspected both by a mechanic and by you to make sure that it's safe and trustworthy.
Next, you want to begin looking for jobs where your new truck. As an independent contractor you can pretty much pick and choose what you want to haul. Find a well-known and reputable trucking company to do business with. Even if you have to take less in pay than what you thought you would, it may be worth it to stay with a company that's well known throughout the trucking industry. You can also check job boards as any other person looking for work might, to find loads in your area. Always stay in touch with friends and associates in this business as they can be the most valuable source of business for you and your small business.
You love trucking and you know it. You want to become your own owner -operator and are anxious to get started. Truck driving is an old and very well respected business. If you are a great driver with plenty of savvy and knowledge, you won't lack jobs in this area. Make sure that you're well prepared and you'll do great!