What Is An Owner Operator Truck Driver?
Becoming an owner operator truck driver and owning your small business can be a very lucrative career, but it requires a lot of hard work and dedication.
What Is the Best Way to Become An Owner Operator Truck Driver?
To become a successful owner operator truck driver, there are a number of prerequisites you need to meet:
1. Secure a Commercial Driver’s License
The first and foremost requirement is to have a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL). The requirements for getting a CDL may vary from state to state, but basically, you will need to pass a written test, a road test, and a physical exam.
In Arizona, particularly, a company truck driver or an owner operator in the trucking industry will need to acquire different “classes” of CDL depending on the vehicle they’re driving:
- Class A CDL – Required if driving a combination vehicle (truck and trailer) with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 pounds. If the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the trailer that will be attached to the truck is 10,000 pounds or more, this will also require a Class A commercial license.
- Class B CDL – Required if driving any vehicle (truck or trailer) with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 26,001 pounds or more.
- Class C CDL – Required if driving any vehicle with a GVWR of 26,000 pounds. The weight rating requirement may be fewer if the vehicle will be used to transport hazardous materials or if it will be used to transport 16 or more passengers, including the driver.
2. Get practical truck driving experience
To be a successful owner operator truck driver, it is important to have some experience driving a truck. It’s essential to know your craft well before deciding to manage your own trucking business.
This can be obtained by working as a company driver for a trucking company or by taking on independent truck driving contracts. As a truck or company driver, there are certain skills you need to master. A few of them include:
- Knowing your blind spots. This is especially crucial when driving combination vehicles whose trailers carry heavy loads.
- Learning how to make wide, careful turns.
- Having the right knowledge and skills to maintain your vehicle.
- Practicing work zone safety.
3. Evaluate your finances
The decision to become an owner operator truck driver requires careful planning, as it involves a significant amount of investment. Assess your personal finances first if you have the capacity to have your own truck, lease a truck from other owner operators, or purchase a truck/trailer second-hand.
Another option is to secure finances through loans, grants, or private investors.
At this stage, it’s important to know your business model for your trucking business so that you will have a good idea of how much financing you need. You can ask for help from other successful business owners in the trucking industry or from a mentor who have their own business.
4. Get a business permit and trucking authority
Once you have secured your finances, the next step to becoming a successful owner operator is to get a business permit. This is important because you need to comply with local and state regulations.
In Arizona, there are additional requirements for trucking companies or any business involving transportation for hire. The following are two of the essential additional requirements, but please also check the Arizona License Compliance for more information:
- USDOT (US Department of Transportation) number – This serves as a unique identifier to any moving or trucking company that performs interstate services. To apply, visit the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) website.
- Operating authority – This is often referred to as an “MC number.” All for-hire vehicles, including owner operators in the trucking industry, are required to have an operating authority, which can be obtained online through the FMCSA website.
5. Get a truck insurance
Truck insurance is a must for all owner operator truck drivers. Your truck is your livelihood and you need to protect it against accidents, theft, and other risks.
Additionally, the FMCSA also requires owner operators to secure liability coverage. As of this writing, general freight carriers need to have $750,000 in liability coverage, but most freight and shipper brokers require $1 million in coverage.
There are different types of truck insurance available, so make sure to choose the one that best suits your needs.
For Arizona owner operators of trucking companies, you can check the FMCSA website for specific online forms for different types of insurance for commercial vehicles.
6. Join a trucking association
Joining a professional trucking association is one way to be a successful owner operator truck driver. This will allow you to network with other truckers, learn from their experience, and get updates on industry changes.
One of the largest and most popular trucking associations in Arizona is the Arizona Trucking Association (ATA). They offer several membership benefits, such as access to training and safety resources, legislative and regulatory updates, and discounts on trucking-related services.
We also prepared a short video about how to become an owner operator truck driver:
What Are the Advantages of Owning Your Trucking Company?
There are many advantages to being an owner operator truck driver. Some of the most notable are:
- You’re your own boss – This gives you the freedom and flexibility to work when and how you want.
- You have more control over your income – As an owner operator, you get to keep more of what you earn since you’re not paying a salary to someone else.
- You have more job security – With a trucking company, you are only as good as your last delivery. But with an owner operator business, you have a steady stream of income even if you don’t have any shipments for the week.
How Can Value Truck Help You in Your Owner Operator Career?
Value Truck is a leading software and service provider for the transportation industry. We provide a number of tools and resources to assist owner operators in their endeavors.
Some of the ways we can help new owner operators include:
- Providing access to loads and freight – We have a large network of shippers and brokers that you can connect with to get shipments and to acquire relevant trucking equipment.
- Helping you efficiently deliver your shipments – We can assist you in making your trucking operations more efficient through our fleet of more than 300 trucks and 500 trailers, as well as our in-house brokerage division. We also have NVOCC authority to assist with shipments for your international clients.
- Offering access to owner operator trucking jobs – Whether you’re looking for other company drivers and truck drivers, Value Truck can help owner operators get the resources you need to make your trucking operations as smooth as possible.
Being an owner operator truck driver can be a very rewarding career. It offers you the freedom and flexibility to work when and how you want, while also giving you more control over your income. At Value Truck, we are committed to helping owner operators succeed in their careers.
For more information on how we can help you in your owner operator career, contact us today!