Striking out on your own and working in the gig economy may seem like a risky endeavor for people working in tech or the arts. But one area where being self-employed is actually coming out ahead is in the trucking business. Self-employed truck drivers, also known as owner-operators, earn more per hour and work longer, or have more business opportunities, than company drivers.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in a May 2018 report, the average truck driver salary hovers around $43,680 a year. The average salary for owner-operators, which make up about 11 percent of the trucking industry, comes in about 5 percent higher. Plus, in the spirit of making their own schedule, these drivers can take on more work as they please.
Let’s take a better look at what’s impacting this trend.
Among workers across all jobs in the industry, self-employment has been heading lower on a steady basis, even with increasing numbers during economic downturns when workers who are laid off turn to self-employment. Considering other factors such as age, education, sex, and family status, self-employed truck drivers earn about five percent more per hour compared to company drivers, bringing their average salary up to about $45,500 annually.
But factoring in more availability to take on more work and you have more earning potential and a more attractive opportunity for drivers to go out on their own. The income and hours advantage among the self-employed does not necessarily hold up in other industries that employ large numbers of employees with the same kind of demographic profile. Think mining, food service, construction.
This advantage for self-employed drivers may not be a uniform opportunity for all in the industry. While it may be attractive to work for yourself, make your own schedule, and earn more money, getting additional jobs and a steady stream of work may not be a guarantee.
The best owner-operators have the potential to earn more money per hour, but some actually end up taking a loss compared to company drivers. The top group of owner-operators earns 52 percent more per hour than their company driver counterparts, which comes out to about $19,000 more. But the bottom level of drivers actually earns as little as 30 percent less than regular drivers.
What’s more, you have to be willing to work longer hours if you want to be self-employed on the road. On average, owner-operators put in an extra hour a week behind the wheel. It may not seem like much, but it’s the pace that drivers have to keep up with in order to earn more that may grind away at them after a while.
Also, there are risks built in when it comes to working as an owner-operator. Self-employed drivers are more exposed to variables in the trucking industry that could affect their opportunities and wages, plus they have to pay their own commercial truck insurance and take care of their own maintenance fees. If a mechanical issue arises, commercial truck insurance won’t be able to protect an owner-operator. But even with these risks, there are owner-operators willing to go it alone and boost their own opportunities. Being a self-employed driver can be a lucrative endeavor that also provides an enviable level of autonomy that others want.
About Western Truck Insurance Services
Western Truck Insurance Services is a commercial truck insurance agency with roots dating back to 1954. We have evolved into a highly respected, professionally managed, truck and transportation insurance brokerage. The hallmark of our organization is our desire to provide unparalleled service. We go way beyond what you expect to receive from an insurance brokerage. Equipped with state of the art automation, Western Truck Insurance can provide you with lightning fast truck insurance quotes, customer service, Insurance certificates, and coverage changes.