Can It Be Profitable to Own a Semi-Truck? 4 Things to Consider

The real money is in owning your truck. You might hear that uttered by some truckers on the road who have been driving their semi-trucks for many years. This could very well be true. Like anything else, you don’t have to share profits when you own your own business. Although that’s true, you’re also responsible for the entire operation when you own the semi you drive. Can it be profitable to be an owner of a semi-truck?

How much does a trucking company make per semi-truck on the road?

Semi-Trucks in Traffic
Semi-Trucks in Traffic | Shutterstock

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According to the trucking company Cargo Transport Alliance, the average income per truck each week is between $4,000 and $10,000. Truckers who own their trucks are called owner-operators, and they typically take home between $2,000 and $5,000 per week. That amount could be enough to make anyone want to get their Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) and get behind the wheel of an 18-wheeler.

What are some variables to the income earned driving a semi?

The wide range of income considers several variables, including:

  • Type of trucking operation – enclosed vs. open, refrigerated trucks vs. regular trucks
  • Mileage driven
  • Number of days off the road
  • Driver efficiency
  • Vehicle maintenance costs
  • Seasonal conditions
  • Market conditions

How can owning a semi-truck be profitable?

Semi-Truck on Highway
Semi-Truck on Highway | Shutterstock

Truckers transitioning from driving for a large company to becoming owner-operators typically have the highest success rate. These drivers have experienced the challenges on the road and learned what not to do. Here are four keys to ensuring owning a truck can be profitable and successful:

1. Buy a truck from a reputable company

Semi-trucks are expensive and a considerable investment. Many truckers that buy these trucks buy used models and sink all of their savings into them. You want a truck you can trust and that will last a long time. Every day that your truck is in the shop is a day you’re spending money and not earning it. Research the company you’ll buy from ahead of time.

2. Use this checklist to buy a great semi-truck

Blue semi-truck driving on a highway, highlighting why truck air horns are so load
Semi-truck | Zetong Li via Unsplash

Typically, semis cost between $45,000 and $100,000 for used models and between $125,000 and $150,000 for new models. This is a large, serious investment of your money and commitment. This checklist provided by Schneider can help you find the right truck for you.

  • Understand what you want from your truck
  • Determine your budget and how much financing you’ll need
  • Research your options and research them again
  • Run a vehicle history on the truck
  • Check out the current conditions of the truck you want to buy
  • Make an offer on the right truck

3. Choose a truck that has a warranty

Things can go wrong, especially when you’re behind the wheel of a semi-truck day after day. A warranty can help protect your purchase and make your new trucking operation profitable. Think about your new semi as a business, not just a vehicle. Make sure it’s protected with a warranty.

4. Understand your costs when driving a semi

A refrigerated semi truck trailer with an open rear vent door, the truck tractor and a street visible in the background.
Great Dane Everest SS | Great Dane

Some businesses require substantial investments of time and money from the owners. Many small businesses don’t turn profits for a few years if they ever do. Understanding how much it costs you per mile to drive your semi is a considerable part of the equation. Will you break even when driving, or will you make a profit? How much is your truck each month, and how far do you need to drive to turn a profit?

Now that you know more about what it takes to be a profitable owner-operator of a semi-truck, does this sound like something you want to do?

Next, find out whether a hybrid truck or a diesel truck uses more fuel when towing, or learn more about being the owner of a profitable semi-truck in the video below:

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