How to Become a Successful Truck Owner Operator

Owner operator trucking is a great career for many logistics professionals. For drivers who aspire to own their own businesses, becoming an owner-operator truck driver may be a great career move. If you are considering becoming an owner operator truck driver, it is important that you understand the job description, requirements, and the steps to become an truck owner operator. The road to owner operator trucking is one of great privilege and great responsibility. Let’s take a closer look at how to become an owner-operator truck driver. 

What is owner-operator trucking?

Owner-operator trucking is when a truck driver owns or leases the truck they drive and creates their own business. An owner-operator truck driver is responsible for building relationships, handling contracts, maintaining equipment, holding insurance, and executing jobs. The full responsibilities of running a trucking business and fulfilling loads rests on the owner-operator, but the position also affords a high degree of freedom to accept or decline jobs. 

Owner-Operator Trucking Requirements

You may be wondering, “what are the requirements to become an owner operator truck driver?” Let’s review everything you need to take the next step in your career. 

USDOT and MC Numbers 

In most states, you need a USDOT number to operate a commercial motor vehicle (CMV). In many cases, owner operators also need MC numbers. Review the guidelines on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA’s) website to find out what your state and hauling situation requires. 

Heavy Vehicle Tax Use

If you operate a heavy vehicle, you will need to pay a heavy vehicle use tax (HVUT). The HVUT is an annually paid fee that allows you to drive a vehicle that regularly weighs more than 55,000 pounds, freight included. The taxation rate is increased as the weight increases, and it is capped at $550. 

Intrastate Licensing 

If you use your CMV to move freight between states or cross state lines in any way, your State Driver Licensing Agency (SDLA) will likely require you to display proof that you meet specific intrastate licensing requirements. Check with your local SLDA to make sure you are prepared to be fully compliant. 

International Fuel Agreement

The International Fuel Agreement (IFA) is a tax program that reduces the quantity of quarterly fuel reports you need to file, providing you are operating within IFA jurisdictions. If your vehicle has two axles and weighs over 26,000 pounds or if your vehicle has more than two axles, you will need to display fuel credential decals on your truck and carry a copy of the IFA license. 

Steps To Becoming A Successful Owner-Operator Truck Driver

Now that you have reviewed the requirements to become an owner-operator truck driver, it is time to consider the steps involved in becoming a successful owner-operator truck driver. 

1. Determine if This is the Right Career Move  for You

Most people fantasize about becoming their own boss, but sometimes the idea sounds better than the reality. Owner-operator truck drivers must run their business in addition to driving the loads. While there are many benefits to this arrangement, the workload can be heavy and a specific skill set is required. It is important to thoroughly consider the lifestyle and responsibilities to make sure owner operator is the right career for you.

2. Get Your CDL

If you do not already have a commercial drivers license (CDL), it is important that you obtain the right class of CDL for the rig you intend to operate. Take note of any special endorsements you may need and obtain these as well. In order to get a CDL, you need to pass a written test, a driving test, and a physical exam. 

3. Set up the Business

Establish your business by making the financial investments necessary for beginning the work. You will need money to manage a loan or lease for a truck, maintain your equipment, pay for insurance, and pay for living expenses until you start bringing in a profit. 

4. Buy or Lease the Rig 

Determine what you want to haul and then purchase or lease the appropriate vehicle. Your rig is one of your most important assets, so make your decision strategically. 

5. Determine How Your Will Find Loads to Haul

There are a few different ways to find the loads you haul. You first need to decide if you want to operate under your own authority or lease your vehicle and driving to another company. Many owner operators lease onto a motor carrier to simplify the process of finding loads and cover some of the hauling expenses. If you operate under your own authority, you may make more money, but the take home may be reduced significantly once the overhead expenses are factored in. 

6. Get Insurance Coverage

Once you know the type of business you want to run, you need to obtain the type of insurance that aligns with that arrangement. There are several different types of insurance coverage for truck drivers. If you lease on with a motor carrier, they will likely provide some amount of coverage. Check with your DOT to ensure you are compliant with the requirements in your area. 

7. Get to Work!

Congratulations! Now that you have made the financial investment, acquired necessary assets, met all the requirements, and designed a business plan, you are ready to start arranging loads! 

Become an Owner-Operator Truck Driver Today!

At QFS, our drivers come first– that is why our network of Owner Operators have a great road-home balance, a dedicated support team and safety staff, and the experience needed to help our drivers succeed. QFS Transportation is always searching for experienced drivers across the entire nation. If you are interested in hauling for QFS, fill out a driver or tractor application. Sign up to begin the driving process today!