If you have been in the business of being a company’s driver for years, there is a good chance that you are looking for other opportunities to expand your career. If truck driving jobs are your love and passion, then you should not feel the need to move towards other industries for a job change. What you can do to change your pace, however, is by shifting from a company driver into an independent contractor.
Both truck driving jobs are great. However, they each have their own pros and cons that you need to consider first. Though cut from the same cloth, owner-operators and company drivers are two completely different breeds and making the transition from one to the next requires critical thinking.
Company drivers are the go-to-guys of brands and corporations when it comes to transporting goods, materials, products and more. The common payment scheme for company drivers is that they get paid on a cents-per-mile basis, meaning the longer the trip the better the pay. With some companies, the company driver’s pay is also determined what type of vehicle is being used and what routes are being taken. It is a noble job with its highs and lows.
The merits of being a company’s driver are plenty. First off, your off time is your own. Since the truck is a property of the company, they will be responsible for the maintenance and extra work the vehicle needs especially during the weekend. When it is the weekdays, all you need to do is rest. This goes without saying but you will also be free from truck maintenance financial burdens as the company will be held responsible for that.
Another good thing about being a company driver is that it is a stable job with a free entry point. Once you are hired, you do not need to put out a heavy investment upfront. Moreover, your pay is already fixed, meaning you can gauge out your budget for the entire month easily. If you work well enough, you could even bag yourself a raise.
It is not all good with company drivers though. While your weekends are all free, your weekdays will be strictly scheduled. You will have a schedule to abide by and this could mean you are going to spend less time at home.
A company driver’s salary is decent enough but the thing is, raises aren’t always a guarantee. Even if you do your job better than everyone else, it will still be management’s decision to give you a pay increase or not. Some company drivers go through years with a corporation without getting a raise in return.
Another problem company drivers face are strict driver policies. Although some rules are meant to prevent any mishaps from happening, there are rules that affect the comfort of the driver. For instance, some companies don’t allow their drivers to add extra cushions on the seats for the most mundane reasons. Since this is not your truck, you have no say on the matter.
Independent truck driver contractors, on the other hand, are reserved for those who want to work on their own terms. Also called as owner-operators, independent contractors are basically self-employed individuals. When it comes to you’ll make money as an owner-operator, you are typically going to be paid a percentage of the freight bill for the loads that you handle.
From the get-go, one of the major advantages of being an owner operator is that you are your own boss. That means a lot of things but most importantly, it means you have the potential to earn more. What you earn in a month will be solely up to you. If you are an efficient driver, you can continue accomplishing orders for as long as you want and no one is going to stop you.
Being your own boss also means having to choose your own equipment. You can even choose the truck you want to lease. From the exterior to the interior, how you want your truck to be is completely up to you. You can greatly enhance your comfortability with your preferred seats, making each drive feel a lot better. On the topic of equipment, some companies tend to use cheap parts for their trucks. As an independent contractor, you can avoid the dangers that cheap parts bring.
Last but not least, being your own boss means dictating your own work schedule. If you ever need some time off, you no longer need to take your chances when filing for a leave. This also means you can spend more time with your family.
One of the biggest risks you’ll take as an owner-operator is the expenses you’ll make for leasing and upgrading a truck. Every expense you make will be on your shoulders so if you don’t have the proper capital, you are going to struggle if you make the wrong move. You should also have a strong sense for business so you can maximize your profit.
Another disadvantage is that your pay is not stable. It will also be reliant on your carrier and the amount of work you do. If you get sick or are affected by any form of emergency that affects you from driving, then you’ll make nothing.
Should You Make The Shift?
Shifting from one to the other is a big risk. The outcome of your journey into becoming an independent driver will be dependent on the money you invest for yourself. That means if you want to leave behind your days as a driver for a company, you need to prepare yourself financially. Ideally, you must consider these questions first:
- Will I be able to pay off my lease easily?
- Will I have enough on my savings to use in case of an emergency?
There are many carriers that accommodate independent contractors as well. Who you align yourself with will also play a part in your success. Be sure to weigh all your options before making the big leap as you definitely don’t want to fail.