Transitioning From Driver To Owner Operator: What Can You Expect To Change?

If you're considering the transition from big rig driver to owner operator, you may be wondering what impact this decision will have on your day-to-day life. While becoming an owner operator generally requires some hefty up-front investments, these can often pay dividends in the form of a higher annual salary and greater job flexibility for years to come. Read on to learn more about some of the changes you may be able to expect when transitioning to your new position.

Hours and schedule

As an owner operator, you'll essentially be self-employed. Although you'll be required to contract with companies to provide your services, you should have autonomy in selecting the contracts and schedules you'd like. This can provide you with a tremendous amount of flexibility, which can come in handy when you have young kids at home. You may be able to accept only contracts that end in late spring or begin in autumn, to allow you to spend the entire summer with your children and avoid daycare expenses.

On the other end of the spectrum, if you're finding yourself in need of some extra cash (or just want to beef up your vacation fund), you may be able to pick up extra work to help temporarily increase your household income. Because you're not tied to one specific employer, you're able to accept as much or as little work as you'd like.

Rate of pay

Becoming an owner operator brings with it a substantial increase in pay -- as well as expenses. As a driver, you were likely paid a weekly salary based on miles driven, and your employer took care of most of the maintenance and servicing expenses of your truck. As an owner operator, you keep your entire mileage rate, but are required to pay self-employment taxes, liability insurance, and fully fund any repairs your rig may need. As your rig nears the end of its useful life, you'll need to start saving for (or finance) a new one.


As an owner operator trucking company, you'll be responsible for your own licensing and insurance. While racking up too many speeding tickets may have gotten you fired as a driver, it can potentially jeopardize your commercial drivers license as an owner operator. You can also be personally sued if you're involved in an at-fault accident. You may want to purchase an umbrella insurance policy to help protect your assets and family from possible garnishment in the event you're on the losing end of a court judgment.