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Step 5: Different types of truck driving jobs


This article is step 5 in our multi-step Beginner’s Guide to Becoming a CDL Driver. To read the entire guide follow the link above to be taken to our step by step slideshow.

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It may be easy for a prospective driver to think they want to start earning their living driving a big rig, but have you put much thought into deciding what “type” of truck driving job is best for you?   Do you want to be a company driver or do you have aspirations of owning your own truck and becoming an owner operator? Are you able to run OTR freight or does family constraints require that you be home every night?  If you don’t know the answer or haven’t given it much thought you might want to spend some time learning about the different types of truck driving jobs available within the transportation industry. Knowing the differences in job types will help you better discern which type of job will fit your needs to best.

Company Driving Jobs

The most common type of CDL truck driving jobs within the transportation industry is company driving positions. Company drivers typically get consistent pay, access to employer sponsored benefits, and steady home time.  Most truck drivers start their driving career as a company driver. Company drivers are usually paid as a W2 employee. The company they work for typically assigns them with their own tractor to use while they are employed with them. Usually, company drivers do not have to pays for any of the fuel, scales, tolls, lumpers, or maintenance. Basically a company driver is just being paid for their time spent on the running running freight for the company.

Lease Purchase Driving Jobs

Once truck drivers get some experience they may get the itch to venture out to try something new. Some drivers look into lease purchase programs.  Lease purchase trucking jobs are designed for truck drivers who want the opportunity to be considered an owner operator, but might not have the credit or available financing to purchase a tractor on their own.

There are many trucking companies that offer lease purchase programs. Normally, a trucking company will own a tractor and then agree to lease this tractor out to a potential driver for a fixed or variable fee due every week. The overall goal of a lease program is for the driver to pay the tractor off through a time investment of working for the trucking company while having the driver continue making payments until the truck gets paid off. Some lease purchase programs also carry with it a balloon payment that the driver is required in pay off in addition to the weekly payments they already paid in.

Lease purchase drivers are considered an independent contractor are are usually paid via 1099 instead of the traditional w2 that company drivers are paid. Like owner operators, a lease purchase driver needs to put money aside every paycheck in order to pay for their taxes owed to the government. Lease Purchase drivers are paid more per mile than company drivers, but they are typically paid less per mile than a true owner operator. Lease drivers are required to pay for the own fuel and they normally need to cover many other misc expenses such as physical damage insurance, bobtail insurance, occupational accident insurance, escrow accounts for maintenance, plates, permits, etc.

Most lease purchase programs within the trucking industry do not require money down or credit check and more and more lease programs are offering walk away leases that enable to driver to break their lease at any time.

The biggest fear about lease programs is that if the driver does not get enough miles to support their truck payment they end up going into the negative for the week. When this happens the driver is not able to bring home a paycheck and as a result they end up looking for new work.

If you are considering being a lease purchase driver than our recommendation is to research each company thoroughly to make sure that the lease program is going to match up with the needs of your lifestyle.  There are good lease programs out there and we have provided several resources to help educate drivers on what questions to ask your driver recruiter. Be sure to check these out for more details if you are thinking about becoming an lease driver.

Owner Operator Jobs

If you are a professional truck driver and you already own your tractor then congratulations. This means that you are one of the most sought after drivers in the transportation industry.  Owner Operators are typically among the highest paid truck drivers in the industry and for good reason. Owner Operators allow trucking companies to scale their trucking company in fleet capacity without the need of investing in new equipment or hiring a new driver.  Owner operators already have the equipment and they typically are the driver so companies that hire owner operators are able to kill 2 birds with one stone.

There are 2 types of owner operators with the trucking industry. The first type is called power only owner operators.  These are owner operators who only own the tractor and they do not own their own trailer. This type of owner operator must haul freight for trucking companies or freight brokers that gives them access to a trailer to use so they can haul the freight. Many power only owner operators will lease their equipment onto a transportation company and will normally run under the DOT authority of the company they are leased on with.

The second type of owner operator are made up of an even smaller segment of truck drivers that owns both the tractor and the trailer.  These owner operators mostly run their own authority and they broker freight from various transportation companies and 3rd party brokers. Like lease purchase drivers, owner operators are required to pay for their own fuel and they normally need to cover the other misc expenses such as physical damage insurance, bob tail insurance, occupational accident insurance, escrow accounts for maintenance, plates, permits, etc.

Local Truck Driving Jobs

Truck driving is a demanding profession.  The work life balance for the typically OTR driver is poor because most truck drivers spend the majority of their time on the road and away from their family.  Some truck drivers simply cannot work over the road due to family constraints or other limitations that demands their time be spent at home on a regular basis. If this scenario describes you then the only viable option for you working in the transportation industry is to try finding a trucking job that can get you home every day. The good news is that many transportation companies have local truck driving jobs, but at the same time, they also have a limited number of openings and you must live in the hiring area for the company with the local job opening. If you need local work research trucking companies that have terminals close to where you live.  Chances are if the company has a terminal near your address then they might have local work as well.

Dedicated Driving Jobs

Dedicated driving is desirable because it normally provides routine miles, steady pickup and delivery times, consistent pay, and even regular home time.  Many trucking companies reserve their dedicated driving jobs for current drivers that have proven themselves. Likewise, some companies will only assign senior drivers to their dedicated accounts once the driver demonstrates a good record of on time deliveries. Even though this is the case we have found several companies that offer dedicated driving jobs to new hires as a way to attract them to their company. If you are looking for a dedicated driving job visit our dedicated driving jobs page.

Team Truck Driving Jobs

Team driving is when 2 drivers pair up in a single tractor and drive together to haul freight. Team driving allows companies to haul high mile freight and get it delivered quickly since the truck rarely has to stop moving.  Many times, expedited freight is hauled by teams.  Customers who operate with just in time or exactly on time manufacturing processes will typically employ teams to move freight quickly and efficiently.

Team drivers are extremely difficult for companies to recruit and due to the increased competition between companies team drivers usually demand the highest pay and largest sign on bonuses. At the same time, many CDL training programs operate as a team environment. The student will typically pair up with a driver trainer. In some cases the trucking company will then operate that truck as a team with the student driving as well as a driver trainer driving miles. Other times, the driver trainer is only allowed to log some many hours because he also has to spend on duty time training his student.  It just depends on the company and the rules of the training program, but some companies have been known to use CDL training programs as a way to create a team truck.


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