How to Become an Owner-Operator

Trucking can be an incredibly rewarding job. One of the highest-paying career paths in the industry is becoming an owner-operator. This is an individual who owns their own semi-truck and either contracts with a motor carrier or hauls for shippers on their own authority. There are many steps to take before you can start your own trucking business and it’s important to understand what to expect.

Steps to becoming an owner-operator:

Earn Your CDL

In order to drive a tractor-trailer, you will need to obtain your commercial driver’s license (CDL). To do this, you will need to pass a written exam as well as a skills test. If you will need any endorsements for the type of vehicle you wish to drive or the kind of freight you want to haul, you will need to take additional written tests. Our program covers material for hazardous materials (hazmat), tanker, and doubles/triples.

Make a Plan

You should consider your unique circumstances and make a long-term plan for how to become an owner-operator. This can vary depending on your financial situation and other goals. Many owner-operators work for a trucking company as a driver before purchasing their own vehicle. This allows them to gain more experience in the industry and to save up the funds for starting their own trucking business. Many carriers even offer pathways to vehicle ownership, which can make it easier to achieve your goals. However, it’s also possible to buy a rig directly after CDL school if you have the money available and feel confident in this decision. Whichever path you choose, it’s a good idea to consider all of your options and to understand what actions you will need to take.

Purchase Trucking Equipment

Depending on what plan works best for your situation, you may choose to lease a rig or purchase one outright. Leasing from a trucking company can be a great option. This is because it allows you to start on the path to ownership while also enjoying the support of an established motor carrier. If you choose to purchase a new or used semi-truck instead of leasing, you will either need to have the full cost available or obtain a loan.

Get Registered

To be an owner-operator, you will need a United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) number as well as a Motor Carrier (MC) number. An MC number is also known as trucking authority or operating authority. If you are working with a specific company, you will most likely be working as a contract carrier. This is different from a common carrier, who can book their own loads and operates under their own authority.

In order to register with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), you will need insurance. There are different requirements for this depending on what type of freight you will be hauling.

Start Hauling

If you are working as an independent contractor with a specific carrier, you will haul freight for them. Otherwise, you will need to search load boards or work with existing contacts to find available hauls to start earning.

Get Started at Phoenix Truck Driving School

Our CDL school can help you take the first steps on the path to owning your own trucking business. You can earn your license with us and our job placement assistance team can help you find companies that offer leasing programs.

To learn more about starting your trucking career, contact us today.