How to become a truck driver

Hitting the road might be the best choice you ever make.

As a trucking consultant company, we thought we would put together a series of posts for anyone looking to enter the trucking industry. This series will cover why someone would want to enter the industry, the steps to becoming a driver, and then an overview on how to set up your business either as an owner-operator, or taking the leap and setting up your own trucking business.

So today we are taking the plunge into why join the trucking industry as a driver.

Truck Driving Opportunity

With an outlook of a driver shortage in Canada, this means there is a lot of opportunities to find work and pay as a qualified driver in Canada. With many people looking for work in this new pandemic era we are living in, this might be a great opportunity to try out a new career.

Relaxed Atmosphere

Or maybe you are just looking to leave your structured job for something a little more relaxed, where you have more autonomy. If that sounds like you then maybe a move into trucking would be the perfect fit for you.

Unless you join a team that requires a uniform, most drivers get to choose their own clothes each day.

You get to choose the radio station and how loud you crank the tunes. (No canned music on repeat here!)

You get to choose when you grab breaks (well there are a couple of rules regarding that, but still, you get to decide when you need a bathroom break or stretch your legs).

No annoying coworkers popping their heads over the side of your cubicle to bug you.

Depending on what route into trucking you choose to take, you may even be able to bring your four-legged friend on the road with you. What better co-worker could you ask for?

Get a career that earns a decent income

Glassdoor puts the average yearly salary of a truck driver at $60K a year and the Government of Canada puts the median salary at $40K a year (based on an average hourly wage of $21.67). So it seems safe to say that the average ranges from $40K-60K in Canada. That’s not too shabby!

And, of course, as you gain experience and skillset increases, you be able to haul more difficult loads that may increase your salary. Hauling hazardous materials, or oversized loads will up your paycheque, as will the route your drive (long-haul driver vs. short-haul or local)

It’s also worth mentioning that many companies also provide health benefits for you and your family and that is nothing to sniff at!

And this doesn’t include those that are looking to start out on their own and establish their own business as an owner-operator. While you will have to assume all the risk, you also get to maximize your profits. We will have more on owner-operators later in this series of blog posts.  So stay tuned!

You love variety

While admittedly you are behind the wheel every day, everything else changes. Depending on the route you get to see new scenery each day.

The weather is always changing. No need to ask your co-worker what the weather was like on their lunch break. You get to bask in the sunny days shining in the cab or listen to the calming pitter-patter of rain on the roof of the cab on rainy days. You get to see the seasons change, rather miss out in an office building with halogen lighting draining the colour from your skin. Instead, you can work on your trucker tan from the window of your cab!

You get to meet new people. I know that right now that seems unideal, but soon life will resume its normal pace and you’ll get to strike up new conversations wherever you stop your big rig for a break.  Conversations with other truckers at a truck stop, with friendly wait staff at a restaurant, with the employees at each pick-up and drop off location will having you learning all kinds of new things in no time.

Variety is the spice of life after all!

Career mobility

When starting down a new career path, career mobility is definitely worth considering. You may not be in the same situation 10 years down the road and it’s good to know what your new skills will transition you to.

Trucking has lots of different routes for you to take. Whether, as previously mentioned, it’s starting up your own operation as an owner-operator, or you just want to tackle new routes by taking on different loads such as tanker trucks, or flatbed trucks.

Or perhaps you will want to leave the driving to someone else and you’ll want to help train a new generation of drivers by becoming a driving instructor. Maybe you’ll eventually look to leave the road behind for a desk job, and will look to move into a new position within your company.

You might look to move into freight forwarding or load brokering as another alternate career move.

These are all options for someone with experience on the road.

Face new challenges

When you picture a trucker in your mind, often a laid back, uneducated person comes to mind. But this stereotype is no longer accurate! Drivers must learn new technology all the time, from electronic logging devices, onboard satellite systems, and the trucks themselves, which means that a driver must learn and keep on top of ever-changing tech.

Each day behind the wheel is different from the last. You must maneuver around other vehicles, make challenging turns, reverse into loading docks. You have to make sure you are on your toes and paying attention.

So, does a truck driving career still appeal to you? Yes? Great!

Well, the next step is to figure out what you need to do to become a driver. Unfortunately, just because you have a driver’s licence does not mean you get to hop behind the wheel of an 18-wheeler.

It’s a little more involved than that.

You will have to obtain a class of licence that allows you to operate a commercial vehicle with additional training depending if you need to get your air brakes.

Most Canadian provinces have introduced Mandatory Entry Level Training (MELT) that requires drivers to take a specified number of hours of training to obtain a commercial licence. Each province’s requirements differ, so be sure to research what is required based on where you live.

Next Step: Get On the Road

The final step in starting your new journey as a driver of a big rig: Employment!

If you’re looking to dip your toe in the waters by working for someone else then you are in luck. In Canada the outlook for employment in the trucking industry is good so looking for a company that fits your needs shouldn’t be too arduous.

Make sure that the company offers the compensation, routes, and/or lifestyle that matches your values.

If you are looking to leave working for someone else behind and invest in your own company then you’ll need to learn all the ins and outs of becoming an owner-operator.

While definitely a bigger endeavour, it may also have the biggest payout for you: being your own boss and calling your own shots. Now that’s something worth considering!

Have any more thoughts or questions about entering the truck driving profession? Drop us a line. We are always interested in hearing from our readers.