Should You Become an Independent Contractor (Commonly Known in Trucking as an Owner-Operator)?
If you have logged a good number of years in your truck-driving career, you may have considered working as an independent contractor instead of a company driver. In fact, there is a positive occupational outlook for independent contractor jobs with growing freight demands. But should you really become an independent contractor? Any career change decision needs to be made carefully after finding out the many faces and requirements of the position.
First, take a look at the benefits of working as an independent contractor.
- You can make your own rules and business decisions.
- You can choose your own loads and routes.
- You have the potential to make more income.
- You can take advantage of tax savings.
- You can manage your own time with flexibility.
- You can choose your own clients to provide service (if you have secured your own US DOT Number and Operating Authority).
- You can have your own truck.
- You have a choice to lease on to a carrier if you have your own tractor. This way, you can still have the freedom to some extent while enjoying some of the safety and perks of being a company driver.
- If you don’t own a tractor, you also have an option to join a lease purchase program offered by a carrier.
These are some great perks of being an owner-operator and you definitely have a chance to become a successful one. Just remember that there are steps to get there as well as certain personalities and traits that make a successful owner-operator.
Here is what a successful independent contractor looks like:
- Able to manage the responsibilities of a business owner such as managing finances, clients, routes, etc.
- Owns or leases a truck, which may require a down payment and/or monthly payments
- Maintains all vehicles and equipment, including inspection, repairs, insurance, etc.
- Has a significant experience and knowledge of truck driving
Becoming an independent contractor means leaving behind the upsides of driving as a company driver. When you are hired as a company driver, the company takes care of all vehicles and equipment. There is no labor time or cost coming from you for maintenance, repair, insurance, etc. You also lose the company benefits and a driver support system provided by your company. If you work better in a structured environment with loads and routes assigned to you, being a company driver might be a better choice for you.
In a nutshell, an independent contractor is a business owner. You not only have to be a good driver but also be able to run a business, making plans and decisions for your business.