An independent truck driver is a self-employed contractor who offers shipping and delivery services. Most drivers own their own trucks, such as tractor-trailers, dump trucks, or cargo vans. An independent truck driver might specialize in transporting goods within a local, regional, or even national geographic area. Distribution companies and manufacturing firms that do not staff their own truck drivers often seek the services of independent drivers with strong resumes and records of exceptional service.
Most truck drivers who offer local delivery services work during normal business hours, though some operate primarily on weekends or early mornings. They pick up shipments at distribution plants and take careful inventories to make sure that all goods are accounted for and placed in the truck. Upon arrival at a destination, the truck driver will present the inventory sheet to the receiver to ensure the timeliness, quality, and accuracy of the shipment.
An independent truck driver who travels long distances might be away from home for considerable stretches of time. It is common for a driver to be on the road for weeks at a time. Some clients offer to compensate for motel rooms, gas, and related expenses, though the majority of independent truck drivers must absorb such costs themselves. Professionals are responsible for maintaining their vehicles and ensuring that shipments consistently arrive on time.
It is important for an independent truck driver to understand the principles of business management and advertising in order to ensure a steady work schedule. Professionals keep careful records of their dealings with suppliers and distributors so that they can ensure payment and defend against legal claims. Many drivers advertise their services by posting their resumes on Internet forums and taking out advertisements in newspapers and publications. Word-of-mouth can be very helpful in finding new clients, as businesses who have established good relationships with a driver can recommend him or her to other company officials.
A person who wants to become an independent truck driver must first determine the type of services he or she wants to provide. Those who plan on operating semi trucks or other large vehicles must obtain commercial driver's licenses by completing driver training at an accredited school and passing written and practical driving tests. After obtaining licenses, most independent drivers buy or lease their own trucks. Obtaining a truck can be an expensive investment, and it often takes many years of work to compensate for the purchase. A reliable driver, however, who gains years of experience and builds strong business relationships is usually able to establish a very profitable business.