Every driver who has ever been to a truck stop has seen the advertisements that the trucking companies put in the magazines. Every one of them promises more money and more home time. The honest truth is that they are all the same. There is not one company that is any better than the other one. The only thing you will do is find a different set of problems at the next company you job hop over to. You will still get about the same amount of miles and about the same amount of pay. The average pay for a two-year veteran driver (and yes if you have two years in you have outlasted about 80% of the driver mill’s product) is around .37 cents per mile. Figure an OTR driver will run around 120,000 miles per year and the gross wages are around 44,000. This is running an average of 2,500 miles a week, 52 weeks a year. Some drivers run more, some less. Some drivers run by the house if their company runs freight in that direction.
Now, lets talk about just about every company driver wants to do. It seems like everyone wants to go out and own a truck and be their own boss. There are many ways to do this but it seems the most popular option these days is a lease-purchase through a company. When driver’s see the advertisements that tell them that they can make up to $175,000.00 per year, the truth is that they can make that amount, but profit? Most companies advertise that their top owner operator made over $150,000.00 last year. Well, he had better have made that much or more or he would have went broke.
The average owner operator grosses between 125,000 to 180,000 per year. The cost of making that kind of money varies with the owner operator. O/O’s usually spend around 60,000 or more on fuel, 9,000 on maintenance, 2,000 on tires, 17,000 on their truck payment and around 7,000 on incidentals like self employment tax, fuel tax, HVUT tax, tolls, scales, lumpers and etc. Just like that old song by Bobby Bare there ain’t much to add once the subtraction done..since there ain’t no zero, I give you a one. So, the money comes in and the money rolls out and the o/o’s just watch it pass right through their hands and into someone elses.
Now, there are probably lots of folks doing much better or much worse than the examples I have referred to. Specialized hauling in H.H.G.’s, double drops and oversized loads and trade show folks might double the examples but they all had to start somewhere. You don’t come right out of the box making that kind of money until you find your niche and excel in your field. Recruiters of some trucking schools tell you that you’ll be driving for Fed-Ex or U.P.S. within a year or so. What they don’t tell you is that someone has to quit or pass on because of the long waiting lists to hire on with those companies. It’s not that all the good jobs and positions are unobtainable they are just full right now.
So, before you fall for that big money advertising, think about what it will cost you to run that business. Also, try to learn as much about the business before you decide to operate your own truck. I have some tips about running a trucking business and there are other resources out there on the web. To learn more about what it really costs to run a business and get some real in-depth business training you need to do so from someone who has been successful. One of the best folks I have found to get lessons from is Timothy Brady. He offers an online course that can be found at http://truckersu.com/. This is an invaluable tool that can be re-assessed at anytime at any part of your career for reference.
Think smart, be safe, and be profitable,