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Company Driver vs. Owner Operator: What’s best for YOU?!

By September 30, 2021 No Comments

Thinking about purchasing a truck to start your own business? That’s exciting! After all, one of the perks of being a truck driver is the freedom of the open road. Purchasing a truck and become an independent contractor are steps to that sense of freedom to the next level.

The skills required to be a company driver are almost identical to those of being an owner operator.

So which is better for you? Everyone’s situation is different, so we’re here to help you understand the pros and cons of being either a company driver or owner operator in today’s trucking world.

Company Drivers are legal employees of the trucking company. They are typically provided a tractor, trailer, health insurance and other benefits that go along with working at a company. Pay is usually based on “Cents per Mile” or as a flat salary for those who may drive local.

Owner Operators are independent contractors who lease or own their own truck and run freight for a trucking company. They are typically paid a percentage per load and earn significantly more money than a company driver. However, their costs are also significantly higher than a company driver.

Ultimately, it comes down to what’s best for YOU! Read through the details below and contact us to learn more about opportunities at Lipsey Trucking!

Perks of Being a Company Driver

  1. Leave the job at the terminal! No need to take it home with you. When your shift is over, you can focus on the other important things in life. Your job starts and stops in the tractor.
  2. Just drive, baby! The most important quality in a successful company driver is safety. As far as your career goes, you have nothing else to worry about besides getting that load delivered safely.
  3. Money earned is money kept! No need to worry about truck payments, insurance costs, or any of the other things that go along with running a business. When you get that paycheck, you can do what you want with it. That money you earned is going straight to YOU and only YOU!
  4. Easy to change jobs! The trucking market has never been more competitive for drivers than it is today. Drivers have their pick of companies to run for. It’s easy and cheap to switch jobs when you’re a company driver.
  5. No startup costs! No money is required up front to get started. Once you’ve got your CDL, there are no other costs associated with starting a company driver job. In fact, most companies will give YOU a substantial bonus just for signing on with them! At Lipsey Trucking, new company drivers earn a $4,000 sign on bonus!
  6. Less stress! As we already mentioned, a company driver doesn’t need to worry about anything other than delivering that load safely and on time. Don’t worry about the bottom line or all of the other stress-inducing factors that could keep you up at night.

Cons of Being a Company Driver

  1. Less money. A typical company driver will bring home less money than an owner operator. An average company driver earns between $0.35 – $.50 cents per mile driver. (At Lipsey Trucking, our company drivers earn $0.49 – $0.60 cents per mile depending on experience and home time needs). Depending on the type of lanes and business that a company driver is running, annual pay could range from $40k to $85k per year.
  2. Less independence. As an employee of the company, you’re expected to go where the company needs you to go. Hopefully all of that has been agreed upon in advance of you beginning employment, but at the end of the day, it’s up to company to determine your lanes.
  3. Less home time. Keep in mind that when the company’s truck isn’t driving, it’s not making money. Even if that truck is sitting still, the company still has to pay for it each month. Therefore, they may push you to stay out on the road more often. (At Lipsey Trucking, we honor our initial agreement with you in regards to home time. If we agree for you to go home every weekend, that’s what we’ll do).
  4. No choice on equipment. The company likely has an agreement in place with one of the major truck providers. They choose whether the truck is automatic or manual and what speed they are governed at.

Perks of Being an Owner Operator   

  1. Higher Pay! Owner Operators, or independent contractors, earn significantly higher pay than your typical company driver. An average owner operator can expect to gross $150,000+ per year. (At Lipsey Trucking, a typical owner operator earns around $250,000 per year). As an independent business owner, you should be grossing over twice what a company driver makes.
  2. Choose your equipment! Do you prefer an automatic truck or are you the “old-school” type and enjoy a manual? Either way, it’s entirely your choice! You pick your truck and design it the way that you want it. After all, the truck is your home!
  3. Freedom! Owner operators can choose how they want to run their days. As an independent contractor, you can run when and where you want. At Lipsey Trucking, we offer an Agent program that allows owner operators to find and book their own freight. Then we’ll handle all of the back office functions to make sure you get paid accurately and on time.
  4. Time Off! You can take as much time off as you need to. You can take as much or as little vacation as you’d like!

Downsides of Being an Owner Operator

  1. Higher Costs. Though you are taking home more money, you’re also paying more out of pocket for maintenance and other needs. Some of the biggest costs of owning a truck include
  • Fuel
  • Maintenance
  • Tires
  • Health Insurance
  • Liability Insurance
  • Breakdowns

These costs are often unpredictable and unavoidable. In order to reduce some of these costs, it’s important that owner operators keep their truck in good shape, regularly performing inspections to stay ahead of expensive breakdowns. After all, if the truck breaks down while on the road, not only is there the cost of fixing the truck, but a broken down truck is also not making any money.

  1. Financial Risk. Things happen in trucking that are often out of anyone’s hands. Between breakdowns, accidents, delays, and other unpredictable events, there is the risk of being suddenly slapped with a large expense. Owner operators should have sufficient cash in savings to cover themselves when these things happen.
  2. Time off. But wait, wasn’t this one of the perks? Yes! The downside is that even though the truck isn’t earning any money while on vacation, those truck payments are still due. It can be tempting to only work a few days each week as an owner operator, but at the end of the month, you will still owe the bank for your truck (unless you’ve purchased it outright).
  3. Administrative/record keeping. There’s a lot of work that happens behind the scenes to make sure everyone is paid accurately and on time. As an independent business owner, it is difficult to manage accounting and safety while you’re behind the wheel of your truck. At Lipsey Trucking, we handle all of those needs on your behalf. If there is accessorial pay due, such as detention or layover, we will negotiate that for you and reimburse you 100% of what you’re owed.
  4. Start up costs. It requires a large amount of cash to purchase a truck and all of the amenities that you will need to live in it. The tractor alone will cost upwards of $100,000.

Ultimately, it’s important to realize pursue that driving lifestyle that fits your needs the best. Every person is different and deserves a job that fits their lifestyle the best!

You can email us at recruiting@lipseytrucking.com or call us at 423-708-7100 to learn more about our available company driver and owner operator positions.

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