Are you fed up with working a 9-5 job and want a bit more freedom in your line of work?
Do you like to travel and feel that the best way to see the United States is by car or road? If you have answered yes so far, keep reading.
In the US, there is a growing demand for self-employed commercial truck drivers, meaning that, if you can get your hands on a commercial truck, you can make your love of driving and traveling your job.
Of course, as is the way with all self-employed jobs, there are some technicalities and other potential pitfalls that can make it a bit tougher to drive for a living. So, if this sounds like a job you want to do, this article provides some tips on how you can apply for the role of owner-operator and be successful with it too. Enjoy.
Step 1 - You Need to Get a CDL
Starting at the beginning, before you apply for any owner operator jobs, you need to ensure that you are legally allowed to drive trucks in the state that you live in.
So, your driving license will need upgrading. Even if you own and drive a large truck in your own time, the license you need to drive commercially is a CDL or commercial driving license.
The test to get this license is a bit tougher than a standard driving license, and you will need to pass a physical driving test. Much like a standard driving license test, you will need to be able to demonstrate your knowledge of driving commercially. You will then be required to drive your truck with a permit for a few months (which will vary in length based on the state you live in), and after this, you will need to complete and pass another test. Then, you will be allowed to collect your CDL and begin applying for jobs.
Step 2 - Get a Truck
If you have a truck, that’s great, but you may want to purchase or rent a larger truck to get more transported in fewer trips. This may involve taking a loan out and, of course, shopping for the ideal truck. Many of those who are new to being owner-operators purchase pre-used trucks. Of course, be sure that the truck you buy is hardy, dependable, and does not require any extensive repairs. That way, you can keep your start-up costs to a minimum and get on the road faster.
Step 3 - Paperwork
You got the license, you got the truck, and now, you probably want to get going. However, there are a couple of other rather tedious things that need to be checked and completed first.
Firstly, you will need to be registered to operate legally as an owner-operator, which will involve informing the IRS that you have become self-employed. This will ensure that you will be subjected to paying taxes on your earnings (not great, but it is a legal requirement).
Your truck will also need to be inspected to ensure that it conforms with all the safety requirements needed for it to operate as a commercial vehicle. Also, you will need to ensure that you are your truck are good to operate across many different states, as it is likely that as your business grows, you will be involved in long-haul trips. Each state has its own regulations about what is required from its commercial vehicles, and while most requirements are similar, it is worth being aware of any potential complications that could occur as you pass from one state to another. So, do your research, call around and ensure that your truck is up to code in as many states as possible to prevent delays with your work.
Step 4 - Get Insurance
Trucks, especially commercial trucks, need a special kind of insurance to help keep you, your truck, and the goods you are transporting safe on the road.
You will need to ensure that the insurance you choose is affordable and that it covers you and any damages to the truck should there be an accident. If you are looking to operate as an owner-operator with other drivers in your fleet who are employed by you, then you will need to be certain that the insurance you choose applies to all of them and that your employees are protected when they are on the road.
That’s pretty much it. When all these boxes have been ticked, you will be able to apply for roles as an owner-operator with a range of trucking companies. Be aware that, as a self-employed truck driver, you will be liable for equipment and maintenance fees that are incurred from running a business, as well as ensuring that any people who work for you also pass the aforementioned requirements.