The average owner-operator net income in 2018 exceeded $65,000.

According to the American Truck Business Services (ATBS), the average owner-operator net income in 2018 exceeded $65,000. The figure is based on an analysis ATBS conducts after collecting data from its owner-operator clients. Based on the data collected last year, the average owner-operator annual net income in 2018 exceeded $65,000 which is an 8.6 percent increase over 2017. Furthermore, 15 percent of ATBS clients earned an average annual net income of over $100,000.

“It was a record year in many areas and a great year to be an owner-operator,” says Todd Amen, president, and CEO of ATBS. 

During the Benchmarking conference call last week (March 14th), Amen provided insight on the analysis of the overall owner-operator population, miles driven, net income, fuel mileage, freight rates, and answered questions including:

  • How much did the owner-operator population grow in 2018?
  • What was the bottom line impact of ELDs on owner-operator miles, rates, and fuel economy?
  • Why have spot market rates dropped so much and what does this mean for owner operators?
  • What is the outlook for 2019 for owner operators?

ATBS has provided consulting, tax, and bookkeeping services to over 150,000 owner-operators since 1998. Since 2003, ATBS has been able to track and analyze financial trends in the trucking industry as a result of working with owner-operator clients. For more information, visit

But you may ask what about other sources? Well they had similar assessments.

According to, here are what truck drivers make on average:

Important note: truck driver salaries vary a lot. 

In 2015, reports that salaries start out around $28,000 per year and max out around $65,000 per year, with the national average being $43,464. The numbers reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) are similar.  The median pay in 2016 was $41,340, which equates to $19.87 per hour. provides a good sample of salaries for all experience levels and are a good source for comparison.

The takeaways from these job sites are:

  • Student truck drivers earn $41,000 a year on average.
  • CDL truck drivers can expect to earn $66,000 a year on average.
  • OTR CDL truck drivers earn the most, with salaries averaging $82,000 a year.
  • Team truck drivers earn an average of $71,000 each per year.
  • The average owner-operator can earn $270,000 year, but they are responsible for all of their truck repairs and maintenance, which is very costly. Indeed reports the median annual pay as $62,752.

The key takeaway is that the pay range varies widely, especially when you consider flatbed vs van vs heavy haul. Take a big picture view of these numbers and use all data points to get a complete idea of the pay range.
Typically, the greatest income potential lies with the owner-operator.

When you move beyond your first year or two, more job opportunities will appear which pay even more than that—like team truck driving (around $71,000 per year) and the role of owner-operator (as much as $270,000 per year).

While overall truck driver salaries were up in 2018, they expect the increase in pay to return back to a more normal cycle.

Are you considering becoming an owner-operator?

As noted above, owner-operators are business owners, so with that added income potential, comes added responsibilities. Here are some recommendations before making the jump as an owner-operator:

  • Get 2-3 years of experience as a company driver to give yourself time to get used to driving, maintaining your truck and life on the road.
  • Be sure to consider the time on the road and away from your family before making the leap.
  • Save money while gaining experience so that when you are ready to make the jump to becoming an owner-operator you are in a better position financially to handle truck/lease payments as well as maintenance and registration costs.

Then find a good reputable company with a history of working with owner-operators.

  • Compare pay per mile vs percentage pay
  • Choose a company with a lease/purchase program if you aren’t able to buy your own truck. Make sure you understand all costs upfront to ensure you can afford the payments.
  • Choose a trucking company with no forced dispatch – The best situation is where you have an assigned dispatcher that you can build a relationship with as you partner with them to satisfy your customers and both grow the business together.
  • Choose one that has a good dispatch to driver ratio.


Related links about JRC Transportation:

JRC Transportation, 35+ years and going strong

Owner Operators Jobs – Apply Now

Truck Driver Resource Center

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JRC is HIRING! Steady work and great pay.

JRC Transportation has a 100% owner-operator fleet hauling flatbed, dry van and specialized freight nationwide. JRC offers one of the highest percentage pay rates (85% of gross) in the country. Click here for more information or apply online or call 866.JRC.PAYS (572-7297).

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