How to Become an Owner-Operator

You want to get on the road, but you want to be your own boss too. You see yourself as an entrepreneur, working hard to get your own business built from the ground up. Not only do you want to do well at your job, you want to excel and push yourself to be your very best.

If this sounds like you, you might have a future as an owner-operator. Owner-operators get to forge their own path, choosing what loads to take, when they want to take loads and which areas they would like to drive in. You will own or lease your truck and/or trailer and be responsible for finding and transporting loads from receivers across the country. Your pay will reflect the added responsibility too, with a larger portion of the freight bill going directly to your paycheck.

Keep reading to learn more about how to become an owner-operator and the benefits.

Steps to becoming an owner-operator

There are several steps that one must take before becoming an owner-operator from buying or leasing a truck to obtaining your own authority. We’ve broken down some of the steps for you below:

Lease/lease purchase

If you have limited start-up money or limited credit, leasing a truck might be your best option to start as an owner-operator. To lease, you will pay a set fee each month or week to continue using the truck for the duration of your lease. Depending on the kind of truck you want, this term can vary from three to four years. After the lease is up, you have a few options. In some cases, you can pay a portion of the cost of the truck as a balloon payment and purchase the truck outright. You might also decide to be finished with your lease and walk away without committing to a purchase.

Prime drivers are given the opportunity to lease a new or used truck with an option to walk away at any point during the lease. With no money down and no credit check required, anyone can follow through with their dreams of being their own boss. Once a lease is completed, drivers will receive a lease completion bonus that can be used toward their next truck or pocketed for their own use. The amount can vary, but to provide an example, the average payout for a 3-year lease on a reefer truck is around $18,000.

Buying your truck & trailer

If you are committed to staying in the industry for a while, you can invest by buying your truck or trailer. Instead of making payments each month to use the truck, the payments you make will instead go toward you owning the truck. To provide a comparison, leasing a truck is like renting your house while financing a truck is like paying your mortgage. It also allows you to avoid a large balloon payment at the end of your lease term.

Those interested in buying a truck or trailer can browse the equipment on Pedigree Truck & Trailer Sales. You can spec your truck to have all of the amenities you want in whatever color you imagine across several brands like Peterbilt, Freightliner and International. They also offer a wide selection of quality used semi-trailers including reefers, flatbeds, and tankers. Pedigree’s trucks and trailers have been expertly fleet maintained, leaving you free from the worry of your truck breaking down in disrepair.  

Use your own authority

Want to drive under your name and branding and own your own business? To do that, you will have to obtain your own authority from the FMCSA. Your authority essentially serves as permission to go straight to a receiver to haul a load for them without working through another company. Obtaining your own authority requires that you have a name for your LLC, insurance, correct tax information and all relevant FMCSA paperwork.

Prime’s Power Only Trucking program can help you get your start as an independent contractor by assisting you with broker negotiation and finding loads. Working through Prime’s network, you will also be eligible for a fuel card and EZ pass with Prime’s discount as well as access to new trailers and equipment. For the owner-operator just getting started, Power Only can get you on the road faster than ever.

Benefits of becoming an owner-operator

Owner-operators get to take advantage of a number of benefits. Some of these include:

  • Flexible time off. Do you want to stay on the road two months straight, maximizing your earnings? Go ahead. Want to take a week off to visit family? You can do that. Being an independent contractor means having total control when you work and what kind of work you do. You will need to be responsible enough to ensure your work schedule keeps the bills paid on time, but the actual specifics of your work schedule are up to you.
  • Larger profits. Owner-operators have increased opportunities to earn by receiving a percentage of the total freight bill rather than being paid by the mile. If you choose to seek out high paying loads and go as often as your ELD will allow, you have the potential to earn even more than you may have as a company driver.
  • More control over your career. Being an owner-operator gives you ultimate control over the trajectory of your career. If you’d rather focus on getting the loads you need so that you can spend more time with your family, you can. If you’d rather push yourself to become a top earner and eventually own your own fleet, you can. In the end, you get to decide what your career outlook will be, not anyone else.


Take your first steps toward becoming an independent contractor by enrolling in Prime’s Student Driver Training Program and get paid while you train. Still searching for more information about becoming an owner-operator? Reach out to us today and a recruiter will get back with you shortly.

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