Truck drivers are among the most valued workers in the modern world. They work for companies of all types and sizes, shipping their products from the place of production to the place of marketing. The nature of their lives has been commemorated in countless songs, making them the twentieth- century equivalent of the nineteenth century pioneer or frontiersman. Some truckers work for trucking firms, either private (the companies own their own trucks) or for hire (for anyone who can pay for their services). And many are self-employed. These workers, often called owner-operators, do their own driving for their own businesses. This article will be about such people, and will tell you how to become one.
The ups and downs of driving one’s own truck
a self-employed driver can earn significantly more than the average member of his profession, who earns an average of $38,800 per year. Part of the reason for this is that there is no middleman or overhead expenses. There are those owner-operators whose annual salary exceeds $100,000. Such high revenue is especially great considering all the difficulties that a trucker has to face on the road—toll booths to pass through; road traffic, occasional road blocks, &c. Downturns in the economy tend to affect the self-employed trucker more drastically than they do others.
Like any other economic venture, though, being one’s own boss entails responsibilities that the driver who works for another does not have. These include maintaining the truck. There is accounting work involved. And, of course, if one does not already have a trucker’s license, then one must go through the training necessary to receive one; this means passing a state test. If possible, this test should be taken from a large trucking company, one that operates its own driving school.
Being self-employed means that the driver is free to—and must—set his own driving schedule and route. It is important to take advantage of this freedom to choose a route that will take the least amount of time and consume the least amount of gas. For the same reason, speeding should be avoided, as it not only wastes gas, but induces wear and tear on the vehicle that can reduce its life.
How to get started
being a self- employed trucker, in short, requires extensive skill and knowledge of both business and driving, making it a challenging undertaking indeed. And, of course, like any trucker, the self- employed must keep a driving log. Finally, there is the task of making records for the IRS. Thus, it is a good idea to take courses in accounting and bookkeeping, which can make it easier to deal with the economic difficulties mentioned earlier.
The individual who aspires to do his own truck driving should also put in at least $2,000 as a down payment. To purchase the truck itself—these vehicles cost, on average, from $50,000 to $70,000—requires the buyer to have a reliable credit history, usually a minimum of 600. The warranty will save the owner from having to take care of major repair expenses himself.
To find a job, the trucker can enlist the aid of a recruiting, agency, do an online search, or join the Professional Truckers Association or another organization.
Managing one’s own truck can be difficult. But it may be worth it. Certainly you may want to try something new. And the trucker who works for his own company may some day have his own fleet of drivers working for him. So now— happy trucking!