As a professional driver, you enjoy the independence of the open road. If you are a company driver pondering becoming an owner operator or an owner operator thinking about selling your truck and driving a company truck, you need to weigh the various aspects of each type of job to choose the type of career that best suits your circumstances and comfort level.
Is that your best option? Owner operator vs. company driver: which offers the freedom and rewards you want?
Company driver – Pros
Less stress. You have less worries after you are done with your hours of duty, leaving it all behind after closing the truck.
Freedom to change jobs. You could have a situation where you are not content with the company you are working with either because of pay, vehicle or any other reason. If that is the case then changing companies will not be a problem because you are not wasting any money, just looking for better opportunities.
Less trouble with money. At the end of the day you, you could actually earn more money than an owner operator or even if you do not, the pay is more stable and you get to take all the money you earned. You get paid by the mile, and the only cost is the road money wasted on food, motels, supplies and other expenses of the similar kind. All the money you work for is yours, no extra payments or maintenance bills.
You will always have a job. There is a big demand for truck drivers and a lot of companies are hiring.
Company Driver – Cons
Little flexibility. You will probably have to start with low job expectations at the beginning of your career and work your way up. That includes working for companies that might not completely satisfy you with the type of job, conditions or schedules. You are working for an employer, which most of the time means not being able to go at your own pace but having a limited control over the job, and less home time.
Lower salary. The company driver will have a mileage rate, but the time when they wait for the loading and unloading of the goods will not be taken into account. This means that a lot of the working hours will go unpaid if we remember of all the additional mandatory breaks and checks.
Slip seating. This means you might not always have one assigned truck but are constantly changing it at your company.
Owner Operator – Pros
Freedom. An owner operator has much more freedom than a company driver. They get to choose your lifestyle, the routes, costumers, schedule and equipment.
Higher pay. As an owner operator you will have a better potential to earn more money. That is if they know how to be efficient in a business setting, because they need to know how to find the best fuel deals, how to manage contracts in a smart way and take charge of a lot of things that will directly affect the owner’s income.
Confidence. The driver will have the confidence in his vehicle and equipment choice because he will be able to decide which tires, truck parts and other details to buy so that they are the safest and more methodical in the long run. Companies might have a tendency to go cheaper on the quality of certain things like the rubber of tires, which they buy in large quantities for their trucks.
Owner Operator – Cons
Risk. If you are not good with business and do not know how to manage money efficiently then you will have the risk of failing financially at this great responsibility.
Busy free time. Yes, you will finally be able to decide your own graphic and take time off, but do not forget that during your free time you will have to take care of your truck and business.
Stress. An owner operator faces more stress than a company driver does. Researching the companies and costumers that will pay the best and be consistent and taking care of agreements and manage money all takes a lot of thinking and decision making which at times can be stressful.
What is better?
If you’re new to long haul trucking, you’ll make a better decision with more experience. It’s probably best to learn the ropes as a company driver before taking on the significant financial obligations of an owner operator. If you’ve been driving OTR for more than five years, then you know what you love about the truck driving life. You’ll find there’s plenty of room to grow as a professional company driver: hauling larger loads, developing specialized skills, earning better pay. That’s very different from confronting the challenges facing a small business person as an owner operator vs. company driver. One man’s entrepreneurial dream in another’s nightmare. It is all your decision at the end!
We leave you with one critical piece of advice, no matter which route you choose. Always Partner With A Good Carrier. It pays to drive for the best!