Owner Operator Vs. Fleet Driver

One of the most significant decisions you can make as a trucker is whether to go into business for yourself or drive for a fleet company. The path you select can have substantial effects on your future, so it’s important to choose wisely. Depending on your personality, career goals and preferences, you may be happier with one job over the other.

Below, we’ll discuss the pros and cons of each position. Once you understand the differences between them, you can make the informed decision that’s right for you.

There are a number of ways in which being an owner operator or a fleet driver differ. In general, being an owner operator gives you more freedom since you are your own boss. However, it also involves a great deal of responsibility. Being a fleet driver means you’ll have more restrictions, but you trade that for stability and job security. When you dig into the details, you may be able to get a clearer picture of exactly what all of this could mean for you.

For instance, as the sole proprietor of your business, you are responsible for doing a little of everything. This includes maintaining your truck and managing the books as well as getting behind the wheel. On the other hand, working for a carrier means you can punch out at the end of the day and let someone else worry about all of the administrative duties.

If you’re wondering how much you’ll be able to take home with each option, consider the fact that owner operators typically earn more than fleet drivers. That’s because they have the ability to negotiate their own rates, rather than being paid by the mile. However, a large chunk of what owners earn has to go back into upkeep and other overhead costs.

As an independent trucker, you’ll be able to set your own hours, so if you don’t want to work nights or weekends you won’t be required. You also gain the latitude to fix up your cabin any way you want, making modifications to your comfort level. Alternatively, fleet drivers usually can’t do much more than bring their own seat covers since you’re likely sharing a truck with another driver.

While setting your own work schedule might give you more free time, you’ll likely spend that time finding your next load or fixing your engine. When you drive for someone else you may work longer hours, but your downtime is your own, without concern for workload or truck repairs. Fleets also provide you with extensive training opportunities, giving you the chance to advance your career while earning your paycheck.

Making such a momentous decision for your future should be done with care. Make sure you have all of the facts before you choose. If you do, you’re almost certain to better enjoy your time in the industry. The accompanying infographic contains these and many more details about the differences between these two career paths. Take a close look and see which one makes the most sense for you.Author bio: Steve Capper is Managing Member and CEO of InstaPay Flexible, a payroll-financing company for staffing agencies. He received his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the California State University system (majors in both Marketing and Accounting specialties). In 1992, Capper teamed with Managing Member/CFO Steven Elias — then a veteran of the staffing industry but currently retired — to start InstaPay Flexible.