Online shopping is at least partially responsible for trucker’s wages jumping 5.7 percent since last August. This is a good time to start a small business as an owner operator truck driver. Here are 10 steps to getting your license and getting your big rig out on the open road.
Becoming an Owner Operator Truck Driver
Think About What the Job Entails
Trucks.com reports that you’ll make a median $52,079 driving a rig. That’s a lure for sure. Still you need to take some time to consider what being an owner operator is really all about. You need to have the personality to spend periods of time on your own and away from your family. Being self reliant and able to resist the temptations of the road like bad food helps.
Consider the Finances
When you become an owner operator being able to juggle your finances becomes even more critical than when you drive for a carrier as an employee. For example, you need to consider having an emergency fund to get by if you can’t drive for a period of time. Disability and even life insurance become more important for the owner operator.
Putting everything on an excel sheet with costs helps so you can see all the numbers in one place.
Get Your CDL Certification
There are some federal guidelines for getting a Commercial Drivers License, but each state has its own process. If you can find a preparatory program, all the better. The DMV.org website can help you find the courses that fit your budget and needs.
Look for testimonials and online reviews.
Check Your Credit Score
Being an owner operator is just like lots of other businesses. You’ll need some investment to get started. For that, you’ll need a decent credit rating. If your credit is dented, start repairing it by paying off some debts and making payments on time.
Get Professional Advice
You’ll be driving alone for long periods of time, but it’s no good to start this business venture that way. You should have a team of experts on your side to help steer around the business, legal and accounting pylons. Getting advice before you start can save you from those DIY solutions that backfire.
Buy a Truck
Buying the right truck is the biggest decision you’ll make after you’ve decide to take the plunge. You’ll need to learn about the basics like horsepower, torque, engines and transmissions. There are other considerations too. Having an operating area where you can be home more means you’ll need less creature comforts for the vehicle.
Buying also gives you some equity you can use down the road when you’re looking to trade your existing truck in. You can also decide on your own runs as your own boss.
Here’s a excellent checklist to consider.
Lease Your Services
You still own your truck and often the trailer here, but you just lease your services to a carrier. There are some companies that only operate this way. One of the advantages is a work consistency you might not get when you’re out on your own.
You’ll more than likely get access to company provided fuel cards and trailers too.
You need to make sure your truck and trailer type doesn’t force you into a bigger market you can’t compete in. Doing some market research will help you to steer clear of problems.
For example, a refrigerated trailer might place you in a more competitive market than one specifically modified to haul luxury cars. Generally niche freight pays more too.
Choose Who You Work For
Whether you lease your services or decide on being an owner operator, choosing the carrier you deal with is important. If they’ve got owner operators who have worked with them for a long time, that’s a good sign. Stay away from the carriers that have forced dispatch loads. Those are generally sub standard.
Ask for references before you make any decisions.
Be Passionate about Trucking
Finally, being passionate will make your business as an owner operator a success. Learning about the latest innovations in tracking and other technologies will keep things interesting and profitable. Collision avoidance systems and rear view cameras top the list of exciting new safety technologies.
Woman Truck Driver Photo via Shutterstock