Whatever your reasons for wanting to become an owner-operator truck driver, you’ll need to consider the steps required to achieve your goal. Luckily for you, we’ve compiled your journey into 5 easy to follow steps. Read through and complete each of these tasks and you’ll be on the road before you know it! Come your next birthday your friends and loved ones will be exclusively shopping these cool gifts for truckers to give to the newest member of the trucking community!
Step One: Get Your Commercial Drivers License
Once you’ve decided you want to become an owner-operator, your first task will be to obtain your commercial driver's license. Securing a CDL is a little trickier than a standard license. You’ll need to pass the Department of Transportation’s physical exam as well as a knowledge test and CDL skills test. Additionally, you’ll need to obtain your permit, secure any necessary endorsements, and choose the license type you require.
Step Two: Source And Finance Your Trucking Equipment
You’ll need to approach purchasing your truck and equipment based on the type of business you’re aiming to run. It’s most certainly one of the most thrilling steps on your way to becoming an owner-operator but can also be one of the most consuming in terms of cost and time. Ensure you have your finances in order and have researched the exact specifications you’ll need before making any big decisions, or big purchases!
Step Three: Ensure You’re Adequately Licensed And Registered
As we mentioned previously, certain endorsements and a different type of license (a CDL) are required before you can even drive a commercial vehicle. Therefore, you’ll need to ensure you have secured all that you need to run the business you want to before heading out. Those who intend to carry passengers, hazardous materials, or trailers, for example, will need to make sure they’ve obtained the right endorsement codes on their CDL.
Step Four: Decide Which Lease Is Right For You
Perhaps you already know whether you want to be leased onto a motor carrier, or whether you want to operate alone, under your own authority. Maybe you’re still deciding or aren’t quite sure which will best suit you and your business.
Well, we can tell you that most owner-operators are leased onto trucking companies as they often will cover expenses such as fuel, insurance, repairs, and more. They’ll also find you loads. However, if this isn’t right for you and you want to operate solo, you of course can. This will mean you are responsible for funding all aspects of your operation including licenses, tax, permits, fuel, repairs, and so on. However, you may find, if you have a great head for business, that you make a little more money per mile.
Step Five: Find And Purchase Trucking Insurance
Purchasing the correct trucking insurance will all depend on whether you’ve decided to lease onto a company or whether you’ve chosen to go it alone. If you’re with a company, your insurance terms will be laid out and determined in your agreement with them. This will usually include Primary Liability insurance which covers you against property damage or injury to others if you’re ever at fault. Not all coverages will be included however so make sure to do your research before signing!
Those operating alone will have to personally cover the costs of Physical Damage Coverage, Primary Liability Insurance, Motor Truck Cargo Coverage, and Lease Gap Coverage as a minimum. Also, it’s highly recommended that you invest in both Business Coverages and Occupational Accident Coverage, to ensure your operation is protected at all times.