Tips from a trucker: On the road to your truck driver’s licence and other transportation career goals
Published August 2, 2022.
Estimated reading time: 3.5 minutesIn summary:
- Truck drivers and transportation professionals are in high demand across Canada and will be for years to come.
- Earning your commercial driver’s licence (CDL), truck driver’s licence and operating a truck safely in Canada requires training from a reputable truck driver training school.
- Your trucker licence is the first step towards career success in the Canadian transportation industry. Look to continuously grow your skills while building your network and benefiting from the experiences of the sector’s diverse professional community.
Immigrants and refugees are a thriving part of Canada’s trucking and transportation sectors.
Recent data indicates newcomers, primarily of South Asian heritage, comprise more than half of truck drivers based in Canada’s major cities. This is a major shift in the Canadian trucking industry where immigrants made up just 7.7 per cent of truckers just 20 years ago. Keep in mind, that this is a workforce of more than 300,000 across Canada.
Newcomers interested in becoming truck drivers in Canada will find a sector that is in need of skilled workers Canada-wide. Labour shortages and a rapidly-aging labour force are affecting the sector and there is an expected shortfall of approximately 55,000 truckers projected, nationally, in the coming years. Windmill Microlending’s Trending Jobs Report indicates we will see the strongest job growth in Ontario and Alberta.
The significant demand for truck drivers means greater income potential. Salaries in the trucking and transportation industry can range from $24,000 to $100,000-plus per year. However, depending on hours-worked, mileage, type of cargo or truck-driven, as well as, whether you are employed by a trucking company, or become an owner-operator, your income can vary dramatically. Other considerations for jobs in the sector include your appetite for working away from home, changing weather conditions while you drive and/or working independently.
To help newcomers navigate the costs and benefits of a career as a truck driver, pursuing a trucker licence or another career in the transportation field, we spoke with Bruce Outridge. A veteran in the Canadian transportation industry with over 40 years of experience, Outridge has held numerous roles from truck driver to fleet supervisor and more. Today, he is a speaker, transportation media specialist and podcaster. He hosts The Lead Pedal Podcast for Truck Drivers and programs a radio station called Lead Pedal Radio. Outridge offers the following trucking tips for immigrants and refugees.
Bruce Outridge (pictured), host of the Lead Pedal Podcast, offers tips to newcomers looking to enter the trucking and transportation fields.
Tip #1: Research the industry and educate yourself
The transportation industry is one of the largest in North America and includes many different types of career options. Trucking, alone, includes the roles of truck driver, dispatcher, business owner, safety consultant, operation expert, recruiter and much more. If you say, “I want a job in transportation,” it would be the same as staring at a blank wall and trying to write a scientific formula. Use your past career experience and job skills to help you decide on the best path for you and then start by talking to others in the field.
LISTEN: Outridge expands on his trucking tips for newcomers by highlighting the importance of proper training and building a network in the transportation sector.
Tip #2: Be prepared to meet many different types of people
Canada’s trucking and transportation industry can be, at once, familiar and an adjustment for newcomers. On the one hand, immigrants increasingly make up a big percentage of truck drivers in the field. On the other hand, there are professionals from many different backgrounds working in the sector. While it is safe and familiar to engage with those who share a similar background to us, achieving career success and operating safely as a truck driver means collaborating with people from all walks of life. Get out of your comfort zone!
Tip #3: Get proper training
The transportation industry can offer strong income growth opportunities and endless career options. However, without proper training, your career will be at a standstill. The equipment is very large and powerful and not knowing how to use it safely can be dangerous. Proper training will be the foundation for your career, just like the importance of a solid foundation for a home. Seek out top truck driving schools that are well-reviewed by industry professionals and are members of training associations like the Truck Training Schools Association of Ontario (TTSAO). The right training will last you your entire career and will offer you many opportunities to advance.
NOTE: Employers typically establish their own standards for hiring and may require a minimum secondary school level education, previous experience or completion of truck driver training. Other employers provide on-the-job training. Additional requirements may include:
- A Class 3 commercial driver’s licence (CDL) to operate vehicles with more than two axles, which includes smaller commercial vehicles such as tow trucks and dump trucks;
- A Class 1 driver's licence for trucks with semi-trailers; or
- An air brake endorsement to operate a truck with air brakes.
Want to learn more about how to become a truck driver in Canada or how to earn a truck driver’s licence? Download Windmill’s Education Pathway for Skilled Newcomers, here.
Tip #4: Strengthen your skills throughout your career
Truck driver training can be very expensive but there are many programs available to help you pay for it, including financial support from Windmill. Often, newcomers try to get the quickest training possible to get into the workforce as soon as possible. These shortcuts may only end up hurting you in the long run. Find opportunities to gain skills and continuously build your knowledge of the equipment and sector. Even if you don’t want to operate heavy equipment, completing a training course in this area can be very handy and help you remain competitive in the job market.
Can an affordable Windmill microloan of up to $15,000 help you pay for the costs of truck driver training or fees associated with getting your CDL or truck driver’s licence in Canada? Find out if you’re eligible for a low-interest loan from us by completing our two-minute loan eligibility quiz found here.
Find some helpful resources on the road to your trucking or transportation career in Canada, below.
- Accredited trucking schools in Ontario
- Humber College (Ontario) Transportation Training Centre
- Get a truck driver’s licence in Ontario
- Commercial driver training requirements in Alberta
- Commercial driver and air brake training in British Columbia (BC)
- Thompson Rivers University (BC) Professional Truck Driver Training
- Heavy-vehicle driver training in Quebec
- Truck and bus driver training in Nova Scotia