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Owner Operator Truck Driver vs. Company Driver: Pros and Cons

Posted on: August 18, 2023

For many people, a career as a truck driver is filled with unlimited opportunities and the freedom to work outside the office. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, truck driving will increase nearly 4 percent over the next decade, resulting in almost 100,000 new jobs. 

Truck drivers have a couple of options in the industry — working as a company driver or an owner-operator. In this blog, we explore the differences between company drivers and owner-operators, including the potential pros and cons of each. 

What Is an Owner-Operator Driver?

An owner-operator driver owns or leases their truck and runs their own trucking business. Owner-operators are responsible for finding freight to haul and handling the administrative and financial responsibilities of owning a business. 

What Is a Company Driver?

A company driver is employed by a trucking company and drives a company semi-truck. They pick up and deliver loads on routes assigned to them by their employer, typically through a dispatcher.

How Does an Owner-Operator Differ From a Company Driver?

There are a few differences between owner-operators and company drivers. It’s helpful to weigh the differences and possible pros and cons of each, then choose which direction is right for you. 

Consistent Paycheck vs. Unlimited Earning Potential

Company drivers are paid by the mile and often receive bonus compensation for loading and unloading, detention pay, performance pay and more. Additionally, companies usually cover the price of fuel, truck maintenance and insurance, so those expenses don’t fall on the driver.

Owner-operators are responsible for all the expenses of owning a truck and a business. Owner-operators do have relatively unlimited earning potential because they have control over what freight they select and haul. They may get paid by mileage or through a flat rate based on the loads they haul.  

Related: How to Be a Successful Owner-Operator Truck Driver >>

Structured Schedule vs. Flexibility

Company drivers can typically expect a more structured and stable schedule. Many companies, like Classic Carriers, have part-time drivers, route drivers and local drivers. Even though your schedule is more routine as a company driver, there’s still some flexibility in the routes you are assigned and the distances you prefer to travel.

Owner-operator drivers have the freedom to select their own freight. Some owner-operators may decide to lease with a company and take advantage of their freight choice load boards. Other owner-operators may prefer the flexibility in selecting freight from the spot market if they have their own DOT operating authority

Running a Business vs. Simply Driving

Company drivers are expected to adhere to company policies, traffic laws, and federal and state regulations when driving. Their primary responsibility is to pick up and deliver loads that they are assigned. They report incidents to a dispatcher, conduct inspections and maintain a log of their working hours.

Owner-operators need to focus on their driving responsibilities but also on owning and operating a business. They’ll need to find loads, manage business expenses, haul freight, carry out bookkeeping tasks, maintain the truck and make regular decisions about revenue and earnings.

Choose Your Pay Package as a Company Driver for Classic >>

Start Your Driving Career With Classic

Whichever truck driving path you choose, we have a place for you here at Classic Carriers. We employ both company drivers and owner-operators. Be part of our culture of teamwork and thrive in a supportive working environment.

Learn more about driving for Classic Carriers >>

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