How to Become an Owner Operator Trucker: The Step-by-Step Guide

Becoming an owner operator truck driver is very exciting but also can be a bit of a confusing process.  First thing to know is that there are two main types of owner operators:

  1. Leased Owner Operator:  These are owner operators that are leased onto another company under the company’s authority.  They own their own truck and the company handles the rest like finding loads.
  2. Independent Owner Operator:  These are drivers that work as their own trucking company.  They are in complete control and have more responsibility for finding loads, truck insurance, and scheduling their driving.


This is a guide to show you step by step how to become an independent owner operator:


Step 1: Organize Your Business

Before you go out and get your own authority, you need figure out what format you want to set up your business under.  The most common one for independent owner operators is an LLC (Limited Liability Corporation).  To look at all the different ways you can structure your business and figure out which one is best for you, click here.

Step 2: Get Your Operating Authority

In order to work independently, you need to have the proper authority to haul loads commercially.  This means you’ll need your:

  • DOT #
  • MC #
  • BOC-3 Process Agent Filing

See how much getting all this will cost here.

Step 3: You Need a Truck

When buying a truck, remember that reliability is more important than looks.  You don’t want to buy a truck that ends up being a money pit full of breakdowns and repairs.  Buying a reliable truck (even if it is more expensive) can save you money down the road with fewer repairs and fewer times you have to come off the road because your truck is in the shop.  Unless you have cash to buy your truck outright, you may need to have your truck financed.

Step 4: Get Truck Insurance

This is obvious but there are some key parts that you want to make sure you have when selecting truck insurance as an owner operator.

First, you need liability insurance to activate your authority. Liability insurance protects your company in case you’re in an accident and damage someone’s property or injure someone.  Minimum limit is $750,000, but most shippers require $1,000,000.  Then, you will need cargo insurance to cover the goods your haul.  Most shippers require a $100,000 limit for cargo, so that’s a good place to start. You will also need physical damage & collision coverage if you owe money on your equipment.  These are the 3 main types of coverage that most trucking companies purchase.

Second, you definitely wanted to be insured through an A rated insurance company.  If you are insured with an A rated insurance company, you can rest assured that you are covered and don’t need to worry about the financials of your insurance company.  You can get a quote or talk to one of our agents now by calling (800) 325-9059.  We can help you find insurance with an A+ rated company quick and easy!

If you already have your authority or DOT #, fill out the form below and get a quote:

Step 5: Maintain Cash Flow

When you’re starting out, you’ll need to make sure you have enough cash on hand to take into account fuel costs, payment between loads, basic truck maintenance costs, etc.  

To make sure you can do this, use our trucking calculator which will help determine your cost, revenue, and profit per mile.

Ready to Become an Indepnedent Owner Operator?

Being an independent owner operator is hard and puts on a lot of extra responsibility to you as the driver.  This is why you need the most successful owner operator drivers are a part of an organization to help take off some of the load.

With a membership from the American Association of Owner Operators (AAOO), we can help you with those extra responsibilities by giving you benefits like getting your own authority, truck insurance, health insurance, fuel cards, load boards, tax help, roadside assistance, and much more.  

Sign up for an AAOO membership today and get your first 30 days FREE!