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So you want to own or operate your own business? Well, let us be the first to tell you it's no easy task. But if you're truly committed to the business and put in the work, then it will be worth it in the long run.

As the owner/operator, you'll need to make sure you have business plans drawn up before you do anything. Once that's done, then you can start hiring people and coming up with marketing strategies. You'll want to keep a close eye on the financials so you know how the business is coming along.

Like we said, it's no easy feat being an owner/operator. In the beginning, you'll probably work long hours but as the business grows, then you'll be able to relax a little and enjoy watching your idea bloom.

There is more than meets the eye when it comes to being an owner/operator. For example, did you know that they make an average of $84.2 an hour? That's $175,131 a year!

Between 2018 and 2028, the career is expected to grow 5% and produce 99,700 job opportunities across the U.S.

What Does an Owner/Operator Do

There are certain skills that many owner/operators have in order to accomplish their responsibilities. By taking a look through resumes, we were able to narrow down the most common skills for a person in this position. We discovered that a lot of resumes listed hand-eye coordination, hearing ability and physical health.

Learn more about what an Owner/Operator does

How To Become an Owner/Operator

If you're interested in becoming an owner/operator, one of the first things to consider is how much education you need. We've determined that 41.7% of owner/operators have a bachelor's degree. In terms of higher education levels, we found that 5.4% of owner/operators have master's degrees. Even though some owner/operators have a college degree, it's possible to become one with only a high school degree or GED.

Choosing the right major is always an important step when researching how to become an owner/operator. When we researched the most common majors for an owner/operator, we found that they most commonly earn bachelor's degree degrees or associate degree degrees. Other degrees that we often see on owner/operator resumes include high school diploma degrees or master's degree degrees.

You may find that experience in other jobs will help you become an owner/operator. In fact, many owner/operator jobs require experience in a role such as manager. Meanwhile, many owner/operators also have previous career experience in roles such as general manager or customer service representative.

Owner/Operator Career Paths

Average Salary for an Owner/Operator

Owner/Operators in America make an average salary of $175,131 per year or $84 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $245,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $124,000 per year.
Average Owner/Operator Salary
$175,131 Yearly
$84.20 hourly
10 %
90 %

What Am I Worth?

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Owner/Operator Education

Owner/Operator Majors

34.1 %

Owner/Operator Degrees


41.7 %


24.8 %

High School Diploma

18.1 %

Top Skills For an Owner/Operator

The skills section on your resume can be almost as important as the experience section, so you want it to be an accurate portrayal of what you can do. Luckily, we've found all of the skills you'll need so even if you don't have these skills yet, you know what you need to work on. Out of all the resumes we looked through, 62.1% of owner/operators listed cdl on their resume, but soft skills such as hand-eye coordination and hearing ability are important as well.

Choose From 10+ Customizable Owner/Operator Resume templates

Zippia allows you to choose from different easy-to-use Owner/Operator templates, and provides you with expert advice. Using the templates, you can rest assured that the structure and format of your Owner/Operator resume is top notch. Choose a template with the colors, fonts & text sizes that are appropriate for your industry.

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Owner/Operator Demographics

Owner/Operator Gender Distribution


After extensive research and analysis, Zippia's data science team found that:

  • Among owner/operators, 33.2% of them are women, while 66.8% are men.

  • The most common race/ethnicity among owner/operators is White, which makes up 67.5% of all owner/operators.

  • The most common foreign language among owner/operators is Spanish at 56.5%.

Online Courses For Owner/Operator That You May Like

Advertising Disclosure  The courses listed below are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the course, we may receive a commission.
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Best States For an Owner/Operator

Some places are better than others when it comes to starting a career as an owner/operator. The best states for people in this position are Nevada, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts. Owner/operators make the most in Nevada with an average salary of $198,088. Whereas in Connecticut and Rhode Island, they would average $197,286 and $195,068, respectively. While owner/operators would only make an average of $190,987 in Massachusetts, you would still make more there than in the rest of the country. We determined these as the best states based on job availability and pay. By finding the median salary, cost of living, and using the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Location Quotient, we narrowed down our list of states to these four.

1. North Dakota

Total Owner/Operator Jobs:
Highest 10% Earn:
Location Quotient:
2.27 Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

2. Nevada

Total Owner/Operator Jobs:
Highest 10% Earn:
Location Quotient:
0.53 Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

3. Wyoming

Total Owner/Operator Jobs:
Highest 10% Earn:
Location Quotient:
0.92 Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here
Full List Of Best States For Owner/Operators

How Do Owner/Operator Rate Their Jobs?

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Top Owner/Operator Employers

Most Common Employers For Owner/Operator

Rank  Company  Average Salary  Hourly Rate  Job Openings  
1Clean Harbors$187,825$90.30125
3Pilot Freight Services$182,787$87.88237
6Acme Truck Line$181,043$87.0474
8The Dart Network$177,404$85.2999

Owner/Operator Videos

Becoming an Owner/Operator FAQs

How do I become a successful owner-operator?

To become a successful owner-operator, you will need to set up a successful business plan that minimizes expenses and maximizes profits.

Coming up with a good business plan is the first step for any new business aiming for success. Creating a solid business plan for a trucking company means taking a detailed look at the financing and operational specifics of the business within the needs of the industry as a whole, and of course, the individual goals for that company.

Understanding major expenses will be important to minimize them as much as possible. A few major expenses include:

  • Fuel costs

  • Truck maintenance

  • Road use taxes, tolls, and fuel taxes

  • Personal and corporate taxes

  • Insurance

Almost as important as understanding how to minimize cost is knowing how to maximize profit. As an owner-operator, there are two different ways you can get paid. One way is by being fully independent. This means that you're a freelance driver, and you can haul loads for anyone at any given time.

The other method of income is by leasing yourself to a carrier. This means that you dedicate yourself and your equipment to the carrier and haul exclusively for them. Understanding your experience level and ability will help you choose which option will allow you to make the most money.

How do I get started as an owner-operator?

Getting started as an owner-operator requires due diligence in researching the industry to prepare for various challenges, acquiring USDOT and MC numbers to operate legally, and obtaining the right equipment.

Before anything else, ask yourself what your long- and short-term goals are for starting your own business. It will help if you have experience in the industry as a driver. Company drivers with three to five years of experience likely make the best candidates for venturing on their own since they've developed a feel for the industry.

The final step you will need to take is acquiring the right truck and equipment. As an independent owner-operator, you can either lease or buy your truck and trailer outright, which would require a lump sum of cash, or acquire your assets through bank financing.

How much do owner-operators make net?

Owner-operators make a net pay of $60,000 to $70,000 annually. However, many owner-operators will only take home $45,000 a year, with a much lower average for the first year of operation.

The average net income in 2020 for leased and independent operators combined jumped from almost $63,000 in 2019 to $67,00 in 2020, thanks to pandemic-related economic changes.

This increase shows some of the volatility of owner-operator net salaries, which is largely driven by demand and the ability to minimize cost. For example, demand for delivered goods was higher during the 2020 pandemic, while expenses were down due to low gas prices and lack of traffic on the roads.

How much money do you need to be an owner-operator?

You will need a large amount of money to be an owner-operator. Being an owner-operator can cost anywhere from $25,000 to $50,000. These variables depend on how much you spend on your vehicle and the amount it costs to register and complete other formal documentation.

This is the amount it costs to start. In addition to start-up costs, a person should factor in the other variable expenses needed in the first year, which includes fuel costs (often anywhere between $50,000 and $70,000), truck maintenance and monthly payments, various insurances (easily up to and more than $10,000), lodging, food, and drink.

Is being an owner-operator worth it?

Yes, being an owner-operator is worth it for individuals who love both driving and the business of trucking. This field is not easy to get started in, but it is very rewarding once you're set up.

Successful owner-operators are knowledgeable, disciplined business people who are extremely dedicated to their work. If you are a person who is excited by the prospect of becoming an entrepreneur, then you will find being an owner-operator to be a worthwhile pursuit.

You will be responsible for keeping your tractor, books, and business in order, as well as for building relationships with vendors and potential clients. Above all else, working harder and smarter is the key to earning more.

If you prefer the security of a steady paycheck and have no interest or aptitude in handling financial, legal, and administrative tasks, then being an owner-operator is not a good financial or career decision.

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