Home Trucking Articles Owner Operator Salary

Owner Operator Salary

If you’re checking out this page for O/O Truck Driver salaries, then you already more than likely know the ins and outs of a Class A CDL. If you don’t, we have another page that is dedicated to the salary & information around a Class A CDL. Becoming an Owner Operator is more than just driving a truck, it’s owning a full business and managing expenses, schedules, and should usually include a business plan. To get started as an Owner Operator and get on the road to a great salary you should take into account all the pieces that go into the business start educating yourself.

One thing you can be sure of is that good Owner Operators running a great operation are in high demand and every trucking company is looking for more to add to their team. While any Class A Driver is in demand in this trucking job market, O/O are coveted for their abilities to take on the overhead, expenses and risk and makes a more attractive bet for trucking companies looking to fill job positions.

When applying for Owner Operator jobs or trucking jobs in general the job applications almost always will provide the ability to filter down to O/O positions that are available. While you will notice that company benefits can be less you will certainly notice that your PPM (Pay Per Mile) or sometimes CPM will be much higher than what a Company Driver would see. These extra pay rates factor in your increased costs and investment in your own equipment, licenses and insurance.

Owner Operator CDL Endorsements

Class A CDL Diagram and DescriptionMost smart Owner Operators take the time to hold every endorsement that they can on their license as it dramatically opens up the job opportunities and contracts an O/O can land. The endorsements listed below are really just the very basic level ones that you should try to obtain when running a successful operation as an owner op.

Basic Owner Operator Endorsements you should consider:

  • Hazardous Materials / Hazmat = H Endorsement
  • Tank Vehicles / Tanker = N Endorsement
  • Double / Triple Trailers = T Endorsement
  • Air Brake Restriction = K Endorsement

Salary Comparisons When Looking At Owner Operator Pay

To get an idea of how much more Owner Operators make than other types of truck drivers we’ve listed the Indeed Salary Comparison tool to the side and listed different trucking positions. As of November 19th, 2013 an Owner Operator had job listings with an average overall pay of $163,000 a year which is $100,000 a year more than every other single trucking position compared to. An O/O earns more than $100,000 more than a $63,000 a year CDL Hazardous Materials driver. A CDL Tanker driver getting $63,000 a year is making $100k less than an O/O and a trucker with a CDL A making $57,000 a year average is getting paid more than $106,000 less than an Owner Operator in the United States.

BLS Tractor Trailer Truck Driver SalaryNow if you take a look at what the Bureau of Labor Statistics puts truck driver pay at you’ll notice that it’s even lower and doesn’t really apply to an Owner Operator pay in any way shape or form. What does show an interesting analysis in the BLS graphic to the right is the amount of jobs available in the trucking industry in 2010 which were sitting at 1,604,800. The growth and employment change for trucking is expected to be 21% and add an additional 330,100 truck driver jobs to the market which only puts pressure for Owner Operator salaries to be pushed upward.

Owner Operator Salary Trends & Comparisons

Owner Operator Salary TrendsAnother interesting look at the salary market for Owner Operators is overall trend in the industry when you lay them next to other similar careers in the trucking job market. What we have in this chart is the National Salary Trend from Indeed.com which shows Owner Operator, CDL Hazardous Materials Drivers, CDL Tanker Drivers and CDL Class A holders and their associated salary trends. One thing that definitely stands out is that the Salary Index for O/O has been dramatically higher than all of the others and has seen the biggest impact in driving upwards as time goes on. While this changes month to month, historical analysis of Owner Operator pay rates has only inched upward and went at a faster clip than other trucking jobs with other qualifications.

Expansion of Owner Operator Businesses

In 2012 an article was published in Overdrive Online discussing the overall landscape for Owner Operator Businesses and how they are continuing to pick back up with economic recovery in the shipping industry. As freight demand pushes new heights after some slumps in the 2000′s it’s seeing a resurgence and has seen more Owner Operator individual businesses started up that have just a single truck. This shows growth in the industry with many new O/O willing to get involved in the business. In 2006 and 2010 the numbers started picking back up for overall Owner Operator businesses. In 2011 alone there were 5,600 Owner Operated Businesses added to the trucking industry.

Owner Operator Pay Per Mile Rate Averages

While we have pretty detailed salary averages down below for an Owner Operator in every state, one thing holds true to all of those, the total pay you see is actually made up by PPM (Pay Per Mile) for Owner Operated Businesses and decided on for each run or as a contract with a company you are leased to. Depending on what type of load and route you’ll be taking as an owner operator they can be paid anywhere from $1.00 to $3.00 per mile gross. The main point of the game here is to cover your expenses and make as much profit as you can. A great blog put together called Owner Operator 411 details how the leasing programs typically work out for O/O by stating that, “If you are leased to a company that pays a percentage, the average ranges from 65% to 75% of the freight bill.” It is stated their that on a leasing program your average net income is around 1/4th your gross pay and that you can expect that fuel is going cost around 40-50% of your gross pay. These PPM or sometimes referred to as CPM (Cost Per Mile) rates are extremely important to make sure you’re covering your side of the costs like insurance, tires, fuel, plates, truck payments, food and home costs.

Different Types of Owner Operator Costs That Can Effect Pay

You can make all the money you want and it can be big numbers in the $150k – $225k a year range but if you’re costs are out of control your net revenue you’re taking home for your owner operator business might have you looking for another job. Sometimes it can all be about choosing the right company to partner with that will even help you cover some costs and fees. Costs to consider:

  • Insurance (all different types for more than just your truck – $1,200 – $13,000 a year)
  • Fuel (Typical to be around 38% – 53% of your gross pay)
  • Fuel Taxes
  • Broker Fees
  • Permits / Endorsements / Licenses – Door Signs, Decals, Lettering, Road Taxes, FHUT/2290, IRP, Parking Scales, Tolls & Pre-Pass
  • Bookkeeping / Accounts Costs
  • Maintenance
  • Tires
  • Buffer Savings for downtime
  • OTR Food / Drinks
  • Laundry Expenses
  • Shower Expenses from Truck Stops
  • Clothing, Work Boots & Safety Shoes
  • Insurance Costs – Bobtail, Liability, Cargo Insurance & Claims, Workers Comp, Physical Damage, Dental / Health / Vision
  • Hauling Equipment – Chains, Tarps, Pallets, Bungee Cords
  • Trailer & Tractor Washes & Expenses
  • Inside your tractor accommodation expenses – Alarm Clock, Appliances, Atlas & Maps, Bedding, Electric Blanket, Camera, Coffee Pot, Coolers & Ice, Crock Pot, Flashlight & Batteries, Flyswatter, Hangers, Ice Scraper, Microwave, Paper Towels, Refrigerator, Seat Covers & Cushions, Rugs & Floor Mats, Tools, Trash Bags, TV
  • CB Radio & Antennas
  • Satellite Radio like Sirius or XM
  • Cell Phone & Chargers
  • Internet Card or Hotspot
  • Tablet or Laptop

After evaluating all of the kind of costs above is when you get to start figuring out what is left from the salaries you’ll below listed by state for Owner Operator salary averages. Not all expenses you will incur are covered above, that is just a list to get you started and thinking about the day to day operation of an Owner Operator Business. Your pay can be maximized if you can reduce costs on the things that cost the most like fuel. There are many technologies that can help O/O increase their profit by increasing the MPG.
Owner Operator Truck Driver Salary Data By State:

There are certainly the hotbeds of the trucking industry that will land you more jobs with higher pay in the Owner Operator job market. Essentially where people are less willing to drive to get the job done is where you’re going to see increased pay. There are typically extra fees paid for driving into Canada and driving through New York City. If that is something you want to avoid and the extra money isn’t worth it to you, you can typically filter out jobs that don’t require those type of jobs.