Owner Operator vs. Standard Operator – Which Should You Be?

The truck driving industry is filled with opportunity right now. Openings are abundant, pay is competitive, and there’s plenty of room for advancement. The question is, do you need to get your own truck before you can drive?


In fact, around 90% of truck drivers don’t own their vehicle. However, being an owner operator does come with certain advantages. It’s up to you to decide what route makes the most sense for your life. To help you out, we’ve put together some advantages and disadvantages before for being an owner operator and a standard operator.

Advantages of Being a Standard Operator

The biggest advantage of being a standard operator or “company driver” is the lack of overhead. Outside of paying for your initial training and licensing, it won’t cost you anything up front. Like any other job, you apply, and once you’re hired somewhere, you begin.

The company provides the truck and equipment for you. They maintain it for you. And when you’re shift is over, you leave it at their garage and let them worry about it. Your off-time is freed up to do whatever you want.

Disadvantages of a Standard Operator

As a company driver, you take what’s given to you. You drive the truck that’s provided. You follow whatever rules you’re instructed to regarding the truck and how you drive. You’re paid a set rate, and you don’t really have any ability to negotiate.

Also, you’re left to take the routes your company gives you. Whereas an owner operator can work with different companies, choosing the routes that work best for them, a standard operator works for just one company at a time.

Advantages of an Owner Operator

Owner operators are given the freedom that comes with being self-employed. You choose who you do business with and when you do business. You get to select your truck and deck it out as you see fit. Because of your ability of choice and negotiation, you have more earning potential than a company driver typically has.

And since you’re your own boss, you don’t have to worry about overbearing management or condescending dispatchers.

Disadvantages to Being an Owner Operator

The biggest disadvantage of being an owner operator is probably the upfront cost. A semi-truck is going to run you more than a brand-new, top of the line luxury vehicle. You’ll want to make a decent down-payment, or you’ll be stuck with high monthly payments in addition to other expenses.

After all, your maintenance is in your hands as an owner operator. You’ll also need a place to keep your truck when you’re not driving. You can consider leasing to lower costs, but that comes with a few more restrictions, and you’ll still need some form of down payment.

Lastly, while any type of truck driver needs focus and self-determination, these skills are especially critical for owner operators. It’s up to you to find consistent work, maintain your books, and keep your operation moving.

It’s not for everyone, but those who master the art wouldn’t have it any other way.

If You’re Unsure, it’s Always Best to Start Slow

If you’re new to the world of truck driving, it might be best to test the waters and see how you handle it. Some find truck driving to be highly rewarding. Others are overwhelmed by the requirements of working on the road.

You can always start as a standard operator and work your way to owning your own truck someday. Just make sure you find a great company to driver for.

Whether you’re a standard operator or an owner operator, Woodruff Enterprises has opportunities for you. Click here to learn about trucking driving careers in Baltimore and beyond.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *