All comes down to money, right? If you are planning to buy your own rig to be an owner operator or maybe you already are one, you want to know how much do owner operators make per year. You probably have seen some marketing claiming they can make you earn $100K or more a year, and while it is a true possibility, it could be misleading especially if you are new in business with no or less than 5 years’ experience. The real number depends on many variables, but mainly on the contractual agreements you manage to negotiate and how much you run. You can either get paid by percent of the load or the most common by the mileage, but some companies also include some perks.
Every experienced truck driver will tell you that, your income will depend totally on the strategy you have for your business because the gross income matters most. Since you are no longer a steady-paycheck truck driver, but a business owner, and like any other business owner you need to come out with your own plan and tactics that will allow you to have the consistency of income you need to keep going, and not only to get the highest paid jobs.
In order for you to better understand how much do owner operators make per year, we are going to list for you the variables on which your earnings will depend. Then you can decide how much realistic income you want to make.
Hours of Service
It is well known that HOS equals miles and miles equals earnings in truck driving. And now with the ELD federal mandate that makes us comply with the HOS rules that require driving no more than 11 hours per day, within a normal 14-hour workday and then stay Off Duty for 10 uninterrupted hours, where will be better to spend your HOS? Loading and unloading? Remember that the clock does not stop ticking once you change the status to On Duty. Now let’s analyze how much do owner operators make per year if they run at 60 mph, 8 real driving hrs a day, 6 days a week; you get 2,880 miles per week. And you get loads with an average per mile of $1.5, you earn $4,320 for that week, and let’s say you average 10 months like this week, you earn $172,800 a year.
Region of Operation
You might think that your location has nothing to do with how much do owner operators make per year and it does not have to affect the pay, and maybe it really doesn’t vary that much, but be aware that where you live can affect the possibility of you getting hired, because some companies will not hire you if they see that it would be difficult to get you home. But another important reason is that despite the season, there are some regions where they normally have loads the entire year, not only on peak season, like for example; most o the east side of the US and they are also known to have the highest paying trucking jobs. That is something to consider if you want a consistent income. Check the 10 recommended states.
In this business, you need to be aware of the season’s behavior avoiding becoming your worst enemy by not considering the worst of times throughout the year. There are at least 4 critical seasons for truck drivers to consider that are critical to answer how much do owner operators make per year; The 1st is from January-March, which it becomes very slow; The 2nd April-July is the High Normal Season, The 3rd is Peak Season on August-October and you need to be prepared to work all you can, here is where the lucky weeks appear, and the sky is the limit. But make sure you are considering saving some money for the beginning of the next year. The last one is from November -Thanksgiving. Here is where you have to be smart and balance your income throughout the season.
Type of truck and freight
The kind of jobs and contracts opportunities will depend on the type of vehicle you have or the endorsement you license has. Smart Owner Operators make sure their license hold all the endorsement possible; H, N, T, K. Yes they required more ability but increases your chance of getting more jobs. For example, Hazardous Materials, livestock or hauling motor vehicles sometimes get the highest paying rate per mile. Depending on the route and loads like this ones, you can get paid from $1 to $3 bucks per mile, this always impacts how much do owner operators make per year. But if you want to take no risk, flatbed trailers and Dry Vans are regularly the higher steady paying freight jobs. Specially flatbeds, shippers are willing to add extra pay, because they want to ensure more care and safe delivery. Take this information into consideration if you want to specialize in any type of freight.
As in any other job out there, having more experience is imperative on how much do owner operators make per year. If you have verifiable experience, good reputation with your customer service and a clean record it means you can guarantee the customer will get their load on time. And obviously you will be offered or you can easily negotiate to get paid more. Successful Owner Operators usually decide to take 3 to 5 years as a company driver before taking the plunge to independent driver business, and truck drivers who have been in the business for more than 5 years earn around 30% more than beginners. Also, experience helps you handle better your cash flow. Never forget that having experience means you know what you are doing, and your employer knows you do it well, this could be the contrast between success and failure for your career.
Companies that have extra benefits help you with your income since you don’t have to get money out of your pocket to pay for them. Companies usually bestow this perks to retain experienced drivers and other just because they really like to improve quality of life for their drivers and improve how much do owner operators make per year. This perks could include; fleet insurance rate, assurance plans for you and your family, fuel programs, tolls reimbursement, permits cost, and more. Get used to this benefits and ask the companies you work for if they have them. The less you used your own cash the better.
We hope that you now you have a better idea of how much do owner operators make per year, and hopefully you now understand that it depends on how savvy you get at running your owner operator business and that you do not need to compare to yourself with statistics or with your fellow truckers, because now you know you can earn what you want.