Everything you need to know about making money with LaserShip

Written by Emma Kansiz

Published 2022-07-05 / 4 min read

LaserShip is a giant in the American supply chain industry and they are always on the lookout for drivers. LaserShip is kind of like the Uber of package delivery and their business model is pretty simple: use your own car to deliver packages from distribution centers to their final destination. If you like cruising around in your car with the radio on, and you’re keen to make a dollar or two doing it, well, why not read on and find out if LaserShip fits your needs?

What is LaserShip?

LaserShip, founded in 1986 in Virginia, is a last-mile package delivery service that partners with customers like Amazon, Walmart, and Sephora to get packages out to customers fast. They currently have 7000 independent contractors working for them. Their niche is same-day or express delivery services and they are the go-to for companies like Amazon Prime that promise these services. Established companies like UPS are often too expensive to use for quick deliveries, leaving the field open for players like LaserShip. LaserShip currently serves the Eastern and Midwest United States so before you get too excited, don’t go applying to drive for them if you live in Alaska or Yukon.

LaserShip has been embroiled in controversy for the past few years and you might have read some of the headlines. Most of it revolves around careless delivery drivers mishandling packages or throwing them onto porches and driveways, breaking the contents inside.

How does LaserShip's earning structure work?

There is no doubt that Americans love to shop online. With the fallout from Coronavirus and the rise of work from home arrangements, more and more people are ordering their essentials online every day. This guarantees a fairly steady flow of work through LaserShip as there will always be packages to deliver somewhere. LaserShip pays its contractors weekly. They do deduct a small fee for uniforms, insurance, and their GPS and app system from each paycheck. 

LaserShip generally pays $2 to $4 per package so if you are able to work quickly and strategically and you don’t mind driving for long stretches at a time, then this might be a decent option for you. Keep in mind that if you are delivering three packages to the same house you will be paid less for the second two boxes. This can be an irritant for those with limited space in their vehicles.

Keep in mind that you will not be reimbursed for gas or for maintenance that your car will require from time to time. Ultimately, with the rising fuel costs and the mileage expected for some deliveries, it is not uncommon to end up making less than minimum wage on an hourly basis. Many drivers report earning $500 to $1500 a week but once gas and maintenance is factored in these profits can be halved. LaserShip has also been embroiled in controversy for not paying overtime for workers who are driving more than forty hours a week - which is more common than you might expect. The lack of protections and benefits might be food for thought when considering this side gig.     

For those who are hyper-committed to this industry, however, LaserShip allows you the opportunity to become a Master Contactor. This entails having several subcontractors beneath you, and taking a portion of their pay for each package delivered. They currently have 600 master contractors working for them who manage their own fleets and liaise with LaserShip to deliver packages.

What is the time commitment for LaserShip?

LaserShip is less flexible than its other side gig counterparts like Uber or Skip the Dishes. Because of the logistical nature of the job, many LaserShip contractors (that’s you) will be designated a specific route. If you are assigned a route it is not uncommon to be expected to work six or even seven days. Some drivers have complained that if they need to take a day off they need to find another driver to cover their route or risk losing it. This can be a stressful arrangement for someone who just wants a fun and low-commitment side gig. This kind of commitment might appeal to people who want an unconventional job with lots of hours guaranteed, or those who are particularly self-motivated and love the grind.

LaserShip might be a good option for those looking for a hard and fast side gig where they can work long hours for a short period of time before moving onto something else. If you want to earn money fast for an upcoming vacation or to meet a saving goal then LaserShip is a fairly easy company to get work with.

How to get started with LaserShip?

LaserShip will ask you to fill out some basic contact information and will ask if you are legally entitled to work in the United States. After this, they will contact you with information on job openings in your region and whether or not there are positions open to become a general contractor. They will verify your driver's license, drivers history, registration, and insurance documents. Once they have verified all of your details and ensured that you are a safe and reliable driver, they will move you on to the next stage of the onboarding process. 

LaserShip, as mentioned above, is less flexible than other gigs. They will typically designate you a route or give you a manifest for your work day. You don’t necessarily have control over where you will be delivering packages. They will also give you a schedule, unlike many of the other side gigs we cover on this site.

LaserShip requirements

Required Resources

LaserShip requires you to have your own vehicle to transport goods from the warehouses to the customers. They recommend that their drivers have a van or minivan so that they can maximize how many packages they can pick up from the warehouse at a time. Prospective drivers with a car might not be able to deliver enough packages to make this gig worth their time. The most successful contractors have box vans or delivery trucks of their own. For those without access to one of these, the startup costs may be prohibitive. I don’t know too many people willing to shell out $10K+ for a van to start working a side gig. 

LaserShip provides you with a uniform but it does deduct money from your first paycheck to cover the costs. You must also have a smartphone so you can verify addresses, although LaserShip does provide drivers with an in-house GPS delivery system. We recommend having a high data phone plan because you will be using your phone throughout the working day.

Required Skills

LaserShip requires their drivers to be over 21 and to have a driver’s license and a clean driving record. They will ask for a Motor Vehicle Report to ensure that you are a reliable and safe driver. It will also be beneficial if you have experience driving larger trucks because you will be maneuvering your vehicle through small lanes and cul-de-sacs on a daily basis. 

It is also a bonus if you have experience with scanning technology as you will be using it on a daily basis to scan and organize your packages. Being physically fit is recommended as you will be lifting packages multiple times a day and some of these may contain heavy electronics or furniture. You want to ensure that your body can take the heavy lifting and long hours spent behind the wheel. Be honest with yourself on this as the physical strain can add up if you are not careful.  

Soft skills that will qualify you for a role are time management, communication, and stress-management skills. Because it is a fast paced role and there are lots of moving parts involved, drivers who can maintain a balanced, calm demeanor will thrive over those who are more easily aggravated or sensitive to pressure.

Required Documents

Like ride sharing apps, LaserShip requires drivers to have a valid driver's license and to provide proof of insurance and registration. They will ask for a motor vehicle report so they can ensure that you have a safe driving record. You must also prove that you have work rights in the United States. 

LaserShip maintains that it conducts background checks on all new drivers but anecdotal evidence from multiple sources (including a lawsuit against the company) suggests that not only do they not do consistent background checks, but that they often conduct their business in a shady way.

Other important details

Although you are considered an independent contractor, LaserShip has pretty intense expectations of how many routes they want you working, particularly during the summer and for busy holidays like Christmas. This can place you in a bit of a bind: you are your own boss on paper but you are still expected to acquiesce to the company's demands on your time. You won’t receive any of the benefits or medical incentives that you would with a traditional employer but you also won’t be able to have as much freedom as other side gig companies would allow you.   

LaserShip requires you to pay for your uniform and for their delivery app that is mandatory for you to use. They also deduct a percentage of your paycheck for gas and insurance, even though they do not pay for any of your fuel or insurance coverage. This might not sit well with some prospective drivers, particularly those who are motivated by the ‘self-employment’ aspect of gig work.

Our review

Because of the nature of the service you provide through LaserShip, your car will be exposed to significant amounts of wear and tear. Because you are earning per package delivered there is an incentive to fill your van or car with as many boxes as possible. Over time this can have an impact on your suspension and fuel efficiency, increasing both maintenance costs and gas expenditures. Because of the per package payment structure drivers are also encouraged to cut corners by speeding, throwing packages on porches, or leaving parcels at the wrong address. You can hardly blame a harried, underpaid delivery contractor for wanting to maximize their profits when they’re up against such an unbalanced system. 

Many unhappy drivers have left testimony to their negative experiences online. Many have pointed to the fact that they are legally classified as 1099 independent contractors, but with all the strings attached that one would expect to find from a full time, traditional job. This hurts the gig worker in two ways: it forces them to pay for all their own costs and manage their own taxes, but it also imposes a stringent schedule upon them and enforces penalties for drivers who want more flexible hours or a stronger work-life balance.  

Although we do not want to discourage workers from picking up much-needed side work, we would caution would-be drivers to consider finding a ride share gig instead. The work environment is less frenzied and stressful and you won’t feel like you are rushing against the clock all day. LaserShip might be a sound option for a short term gig to make money fast, if you’re up to the pressure and hours, but is not sustainable long term for most people just looking to find a side gig or side hustle. If you want insight into what it’s like to be your own boss, LaserShip is probably not the opportunity for you.