Most people don't think about tow trucks until they're stranded in their broken-down cars or need assistance during snowstorms. Tow truck owners respond to calls from stranded motorists or those involved in accidents and use flat beds, cranes and other devices to secure and transport vehicles. They earn incomes averaging between $30,000 and $40,000 annually.
Salary and Qualifications
The average annual income of a tow truck owner or operator was $33,000 as of 2013, according to the job site Simply Hired. To become a tow truck owner, you don't need any specific education. It behooves you to have basic math skills so you can track your revenues and expenses. You'll also need an auto towing license from your state, permit for your truck and liability insurance to protect your assets. Other essential qualifications include physical stamina and strength, hand-eye coordination, good vision and customer service skills.
Average incomes for tow truck owners varied the most within the South in 2013, according to Simply Hired, where they earned the lowest incomes of $26,000 in Mississippi and the highest of $53,000 in Washington, D.C. Those in South Dakota and Minnesota made $26,000 and $36,000 per year, respectively, the lowest and highest earnings in the Midwest. If you were a tow truck owner in the Northeast, you'd earn an average of $30,000 or $41,000 in Maine or Massachusetts, respectively. In the West, you'd make the least in Montana and the most in Alaska and California -- $27,000 and $38,000, respectively.
Tow truck owners can earn higher incomes by advertising their services in print and online to get more customers to use their services. You can also create a catchy name for your towing business and use a business number that customers can easily remember, according to "Entrepreneur" magazine. These strategies can help you build revenue. Tow truck owners also increase their incomes by managing their expenses. One way to manage expenses is to use a GPS, or global positioning system, to increase your route efficiency, resulting in lower gas expenses. You may also operate your business from home and save on office expenses.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics doesn't forecast jobs for tow truck owners. You'll likely find more customers for your towing business in a large city or high-growth area, where you'll have more potential vehicles to tow. The number of vehicles on the road increased 25 percent from 2001 to 2011, according to "Towing & Recovery Footnotes" magazine, outpacing the growth in the number of tow truck drivers. People also bought fewer new cars and delayed repairs on the cars they owned during the latest economic downturn, which makes vehicles more prone to breaking down. All of these factors translate to a favorable outlook for tow truck services through 2016, although "Towing & Recovery Footnotes" doesn't specify an exact growth figure.
- Entrepreneur: Business Idea Center: Auto Towing
- Washington State Department of Licensing: How to Get Your License: Registered Tow Truck Operator
- Simply Hired: Average Tow Truck Operator Salaries
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: How to Become a Heavy or Tractor-Trailer Truck Driver
- Towing & Recovery Footnotes: The Towing Economy is 10-8 For Growth
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Employment Statistics: Heavy and Tractor-trailer Truck Drivers
- Simply Hired: Average Tow Truck Operator Salaries in ME, NY and MA
- Simply Hired: Average Tow Truck Operator Salaries in MT, AK and CA
- Simply Hired: Average Tow Truck Operator Salaries in MS and DC
- Simply Hired: Average Tow Truck Operator Salaries in SD, IL and MN
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