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ATS vs. Landstar: Which Carrier Should I Drive For?

January 26th, 2024

Lars Offerdahl

Lars Offerdahl

Lars has been in the trucking industry his whole working life. He started working in the shop when he was just 16 years old. Lars spent about 10 years in operations before moving to driver recruiting. He spent five years in recruiting before joining the ATS team as the vice president of driver recruiting. He currently serves as the vice president of van operations. No day is ever the same in the trucking industry and Lars enjoys the challenge that presents.

When you’re looking to make a switch, how do you determine which carrier to drive for — especially when you’re looking at some of the top-ranked companies in the industry? 

By now, you’ve probably done a ton of research to narrow your search to a company or two. But how do you take that search from two companies down to one?

Here at Anderson Trucking Service (ATS), it’s our mission to provide you with unbiased content about the trucking industry — even when that means pitting us head-to-head against our competitors. 

While we’re confident in our programs and benefits, we want you to have access to all the information you need to make an informed decision about your career path. We understand there’s a trucking company out there for everyone and we may or may not have what you’re looking for. 

Drivers often compare ATS and Landstar when they’re making their final decision about which company to drive for next — particularly those interested in hauling flatbed freight. 

In this article, we’ll compare some of the features drivers care about most when comparing trucking companies, including: 

  • Career path and home time
  • Division and freight type
  • Pay
  • Benefits
  • Equipment 

By the time you’ve reached the end of the article, you’ll know which company to call.

Back side view of semi on two-lane highway.

History of Landstar 

Landstar, which is headquartered in Jacksonville, Florida, has been in business since 1968. They were incorporated in 1991. Landstar specializes in logistics — primarily third-party logistics. Their LandstarOne® mobile app makes them a leader in digital freight management. 

With over 10,000 trucks contracted with Landstar, they’re considered a mega-carrier. They operate primarily in the U.S. but do service Mexico and Canada in a lesser capacity. 

History of ATS

ATS was started in 1955 by Harold Anderson in St. Cloud, Minnesota, where the business is still headquartered today. Soon after, we started a form of less-than-truckload shipping. We started investing in brokerage businesses in the late 1980s and now have a thriving logistics division. 

ATS operates throughout the continental U.S., Canada and Mexico as a midsize carrier. 

Comparing Career Paths and Home Time 

If you're looking to hone your skills and advance your career, it's important to find a company that'll allow you to do that. You also want to work for a company with a home time policy that fits your needs.

Let's see how Landstar and ATS compare on these details. 


Landstar works with independent contractors — whether drivers are lease operators or owner-operators. They refer to these drivers as business capacity owners (BCOs). While you can lease your truck on with them, they don’t have a lease program. Drivers would need to lease their truck from a leasing company and then sign on with Landstar.

Drivers must have one year of experience before signing on with Landstar. The company works with both team and solo owner-operators. 

The Landstar model is built on freedom. They have one of the largest logistic arms in North America. Because of this, drivers can set themselves up to run over-the-road (OTR) or local and regional routes. They can run as wide of a network as they want or they could decide to run local. 

Drivers book their freight off the Landstar load board. Landstar is 100 percent non-forced dispatch. Drivers choose what they want to haul and when. They receive support in the form of business and safety classes and a cost-savings program. A logistics representative and a dispatcher can help you find freight, but you’ll have to make your own local route if that’s what you prefer. 

Get the lease program decision guide now.


ATS is an OTR carrier with a few options for regional routes if you’re in the Midwest. ATS doesn’t work with brand-new drivers. We require six to 12 months of experience depending on the position. 

ATS has open positions for company drivers, lease drivers or owner-operators. We offer the industry’s only one-year lease program with no money down and no credit check. 

Comparing Division and Freight Type 

Do you want to haul a specific type of freight? Make sure it's available at the company you choose.


Landstar has a unique setup compared to other trucking companies. Because Landstar has a large logistics division, they have access to a wide array of freight — from general freight to oversized freight. Notably, they haul freight for the Department of Defense (DOD) as one of the largest truckload capacity carriers.

Drivers are all lease operators and owner-operators and can, therefore, decide which freight they want to haul. They can choose freight that never needs tarping and they can choose to operate only in the areas they like. 

They have access to a wide variety of trailers and can, therefore, haul whatever. They haul freight on vans, flatbeds, step-decks, refrigerated trucks and straight trucks. They also do heavy and specialized freight.

If you don’t own a trailer, you can rent one from them. 


ATS serves multiple markets from manufacturing and mining to aerospace/aviation and construction. Drivers can work in one of four divisions: dry vans, flatbed specialized, heavy haul and DOD. 

Van drivers haul drop-and-hook freight in dry vans, while flatbed specialized drivers can switch trailers somewhat frequently. They can haul freight on step-decks, lowboys, Conestogas, removable gooseneck (RGN) trailers and more. 

As a flatbed driver, you can choose to advance through a class system to move into the heavy haul division. Advancement to heavy haul takes drivers anywhere from a year to several years; it all depends on how dedicated you are to hauling larger freight and how comfortable you are with it. 

In the heavy haul division, you’ll move freight on specialized trailers like the 13-axle perimeter trailer, 19-axle steerable, blade trailer, Schnabel tower trailer and 13-axle double-drop RGN. You can even work on special projects hauling towers and blades in the wind sector. 

ATS also works with team drivers to haul DOD freight. Drivers haul transportation protective services freight (TPS). 

White semi-truck hauling a step-deck trailer covered in a black and red tarp.

Comparing Pay

You have bills to pay and maybe a truck payment to make. You need to make enough money to support yourself.

See how Landstar and ATS compare when it comes to pay.


At Landstar, drivers are paid percentage pay and the average pay is $1,289 per week. This averages out to $77,179 per year. 

They pay 65 or 75 percent of the load depending on whether you’re leasing a trailer from Landstar or if you own a trailer. For instance, using a Landstar trailer you’ll be paid 65 percent of the load. If you’re using your own trailer, you’ll be paid 72 percent of the load. 


ATS is considered a top-pay carrier, with drivers averaging $85,000 per year and higher. A high-performing owner-operator in the ATS heavy haul division is earning as much as $200,000 per year after expenses. 

DOD freight pays very well. Drivers can make several thousand dollars per week and some are even making upwards of $8,000 per week.

For their first eight weeks of employment, company drivers get guaranteed pay. 

Drivers are paid per mile or percentage depending on which division they drive in. You can learn more about the ATS pay structure here. 

ATS also offers a variety of bonuses, including sign-on bonuses, referral bonuses and lease completion bonuses.

Comparing Benefits 

You may need company-sponsored benefits or you may be fine sourcing the open market to find your own benefits.

See what both Landstar and ATS have to offer.


Because Landstar doesn’t hire any company drivers and all of their drivers are independent contractors of some sort, they don’t have a comprehensive benefits package with health insurance, vacation pay and retirement accounts.

However, they do have a cost-saving program called the Landstar Contractors’ Advantage Purchasing Program (LCAPP). Drivers get discounts on tires, fuel, equipment and more through this program. 


ATS has a comprehensive benefits package for company drivers. They receive access to medical, dental and vision insurance, life and disability insurance, 401k and vacation pay. 

Independent contractors and owner-operators also receive access to discounts on tires, fuel and more.

Comparing Equipment 

A lot of drivers have specific preferences when it comes to the equipment they're using every day. 

Let's talk about what both Landstar and ATS have to offer.


Because Landstar works with independent contractors, equipment availability is dependent upon what you’re willing to purchase or lease on your own. You have access to any truck but you’ll be paying for it and Landstar won’t provide it. They do have a lot of different types of trailers you can lease, however. 


ATS has a wide network of shops in the country and we pride ourselves on maintaining a fleet of newer trucks. Choose from Peterbilt, Freightliner and Volvo models.

Related: Learn more about truck selection at ATS.

Landstar or ATS — Which Will You Drive For? 

Now that you’ve reviewed both Landstar and ATS offerings, are you set on which carrier is best for you? Now is the time to compare their offerings to your list of needs and wants. Who has the best offerings for you in each category? 

While both companies have plenty to offer — including diverse freight and good pay — there are several key differences. Landstar offers the freedom to book your own freight using their load board. ATS, on the other hand, offers more support with company positions and a lease program. 

If you own your truck or you’re leasing a truck with a leasing company and you want to book your own freight, go with Landstar. 

If you’d like more support from a company — including a company position or lease program and training support — go with ATS.

Man's hands on steering wheel.

Receive the Support You Need With ATS

Not only does ATS offer an exciting career path for drivers who are looking to advance from hauling general freight in the flatbed division to hauling oversized, heavy freight in the heavy haul division, but ATS also offers the support you need to succeed. 

With a training program and constant support from the safety team and your dispatcher, you’ll feel comfortable about advancing your skills. No more wondering if you’ve secured your freight properly!

ATS also offers company positions with a wide range of benefits — including medical, dental and life insurance as well as a 401k and paid time off. 

When you’re ready to work with a stable, supportive company that’s dedicated to your success, fill out an application. You should expect to hear from a driver consultant within 24 business hours.


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