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How to Become a Truck Driver: Skills, Wages, Job Outlook, and Career Path

  • Career Advice
  • By Vanessa Appiah-Kubi
  • Published on May 25

How to Become a Truck Driver (Transport Truck Driver)

Quick Facts

(According to Ontario’s labour market information website)

  • Job Outlook: Very Good
  • Median Income: $54,800
  • Top Location: Toronto (45%)

Job Description

Transport truck drivers are the backbone of freight transportation. Long-haul truckers travel interstate roads, hauling commodities over long miles. Short-haul and local drivers, on the other hand, specialize in urban and short interurban routes, transporting freight to nearby locations.

What Would I Do?

Long-haul Drivers:

  • Operating Heavy Trucks: Long-haul drivers typically run tractor-trailers, long-combination vehicles, and straight-body trucks, which can weigh above 4500 kg and deliver products over long distances.
  • Trip Planning: They carefully arrange trip logistics, ensuring that they have all of the essential papers to properly move items.
  • Vehicle Maintenance: Pre-trip, enroute, and post-trip checks are critical. They keep their vehicles in good condition by monitoring tires and ensuring cold storage systems work properly.
  • Cargo Security: Long-haul drivers ensure that cargo is adequately secured, particularly while moving dangerous goods, and closely adhere to safety regulations.
  • Documentation and Communication: From documenting cargo information to connecting with dispatchers and customers via onboard computers and communication devices, documentation and good communication are essential to their job.
  • Emergency Response: In an emergency, long-haul drivers may need to undertake roadside repairs to ensure their own and other drivers' safety.

Short-haul Drivers:

  • Driving and Monitoring Cargo: These drivers typically run straight trucks on local routes, monitoring cargo loading and unloading.
  • Vehicle Maintenance: Short-haul drivers, like their long-haul counterparts, examine their cars thoroughly before, during, and after each journey.
  • Specialized Trucks: Short-haul drivers may operate specialized trucks such as tow trucks, dump trucks, or cement mixing trucks, depending on the nature of what they do.

Am I Suited For This Job?

Here's a chart illustrating the skills and traits needed for success as a truck driver:

Skills and TraitsDescriptionNavigation SkillsAbility to read maps, operate GPS devices, and travel effectively.Time ManagementExcellent time-management skills are required.Attention to DetailPaying close attention to detail when conducting vehicle inspections, securing goods, and precisely completing paperwork.Physical StaminaStrong physical stamina to drive for extended hours, load and unload freight, and undertake roadside activities as needed.Communication SkillsEffective communication skills when engaging with dispatchers, clients, and other drivers via communication devices.Problem-solving SkillsAbility to think quickly and solve unanticipated problems, such as vehicle breakdowns or route deviations.AdaptabilityFlexibility in adapting to changing road conditions, weather, and traffic circumstances while remaining calm and focused.IndependenceThe capacity to work alone, make judgments on the road, and manage time successfully without constant supervision.

Typical Day of a Truck Driver

A normal day for a truck driver begins early, typically before the sun rises, as they prepare for the day's travel. Their work environment is always changing, ranging from the solitude of long stretches of highway to crowded loading docks and client sites. After doing pre-trip inspections and confirming that their cargo is safe, they set off on their journey, passing through a variety of landscape and weather conditions. Hours can be lengthy and unpredictable, with drivers sometimes working hours that last much beyond the conventional 9-to-5, depending on delivery schedules and distance. Throughout the day, they remain watchful, continually monitoring traffic, road signs, and weather warnings while following safety procedures. Onboard computers and communication equipment allow for regular connection with dispatchers and other drivers. Breaks are taken at rest stations or designated sites, providing temporary relief from the repetitiveness of the road. As the day unfolds, drivers may face obstacles such as traffic delays, mechanical troubles, or unexpected detours, which need quick thinking and problem-solving skills. Finally, as the sun sets, they wrap up, conducting post-trip checks and logging mileage before retiring for the night, ready to do it all again the next day.

Wages and Benefits

Here's a summary of the average hourly pay for truck drivers in different Canadian communities/areas, along with typical benefits:

Community/Area1st Year Employee ($/hour)Experienced Employee ($/hour)Senior Employee ($/hour)Nunavut$19.00$30.11$44.13British Columbia$19.55$27.50$38.46Alberta$18.50$28.00$38.00Saskatchewan$18.00$25.25$35.90Manitoba$15.38$22.51$34.00Ontario$18.45$25.00$34.91Quebec$17.00$24.00$30.74

Common Benefits:

  • Health Insurance: Many trucking businesses provide comprehensive health insurance plans that include medical, dental, and vision care.
  • Retirement Programs: Employees may have access to retirement savings programs such as pension plans.
  • Paid Time Off: Benefits frequently include paid vacation days, sick leave, and holidays.
  • Bonuses: Some firms provide performance-based bonuses or incentives for completing targets or maintaining safe driving records.
  • Training and Certification: Opportunities for skill enhancement and career advancement through training programs and certifications may be provided.

These perks, together with reasonable pay, help to make truck driving a desirable and satisfying career path.

Job Outlook in Canada (Ontario)

According to the Government of Canada Job Bank and Ontario's labour market information website, the job outlook for Transport Truck Drivers in Ontario is very favourable. Over the year 2022-2031, there are predicted to be a total of 161,700 new job vacancies in Canada, with Ontario accounting for a substantial amount of this demand. Furthermore, a projected shift in employment levels of 17.1% - 18% between 2023 and 2027 suggests that the industry is expanding rapidly. These numbers show that there are plenty of chances for people who want to work as transport truck drivers in Ontario, with a consistent demand expected in the near future.

This graph shows the two components of projected job openings, new jobs and replacement jobs (replacement jobs from retirement, death, and emigration) for this job compared with others from 2023 – 2027:

How Do I Become a Truck Driver?

To become a Transport Truck Driver, you must meet specified prerequisites and credentials. Typically, candidates must have finished secondary school and received on-the-job training, which is often provided by businesses. In addition, completion of an official driver training course lasting up to three months at a trade school or college may be required. Depending on the type of vehicle being driven, several license classifications are necessary. Straight-body trucks require a Class 3 or D license, whereas lengthy combination vehicles need a Class 1 or A license. An air brake endorsement (Z) is also necessary for drivers driving vehicles with air brakes, and transportation of dangerous goods (TDG) certification is required for individuals transporting hazardous materials. Furthermore, extra licensing endorsements or certificates may be required to drive articulated trucks. Before entering the field, verify with the relevant regulatory authorities to confirm that all applicable certifications and licensing criteria have been met.

Pathways to Become a Truck Driver:

Apprenticeship Pathways


  • Certification: Certificate from the Technical Standards and Safety Authority is required for propane truck operators. TSSA

Driver Licensing:

  • Drive Test Centres offer driver licensing and examination services, such as knowledge tests and road tests, on behalf of the Ministry of Transportation (MTO). Drive Test

Ontario Trucking Association:

Where Would I Work?

According to Ontario’s labour market information website, Transport Truck Drivers can work in a variety of industries, with transportation and warehousing accounting for around 65% of jobs. This includes positions with transportation companies, distribution centres, and logistics corporations, where drivers are responsible for moving goods and commodities across vast distances or within specific locations. Additionally, around 9% of drivers may find work in the construction business, where they transport supplies and equipment to and from building sites. Another 5% work in manufacturing, contributing to the transportation of raw materials and finished goods. Furthermore, 5% work in wholesale trade, aiding in the distribution of products to retailers, while 4% work in retail trade, assisting in the delivery of products to stores. The other 12% of drivers may operate in industries such as agriculture, mining, or utilities, which need to transport specific commodities or equipment.

The following pie chart depicts the split of job sectors for Transport Truck Drivers:

How Do I Find a Job?

When looking for a career as a Transport Truck Driver, there are various options that people often explore:

  • Online Job Boards: Websites like Indeed, Monster, and CareerBuilder frequently have several job posts for truck driving employment. Candidates can refine their search by geography, experience level, and specific requirements.
  • Trucking Groups: Industry-specific groups, such as the Canadian Trucking Alliance or the Ontario Trucking Association, may provide job boards or other services to help truckers connect with possible employers.
  • Networking: Making relationships within the sector will help you uncover career prospects. Attending business events, joining online forums or social media groups for truck drivers, and networking with other experts in the area might result in employment referrals or recommendations.
  • Government Job Banks: Government-run job search portals, such as Job Bank in Canada, frequently provide a diverse range of job ads across industries, including truck driving employment.

Applying for a Job

When applying for a position as a Transport Truck Driver, it is critical to provide a well-written resume or CV that effectively showcases your skills, credentials, and applicable experience. Here are some guidelines for developing an impressive resume or CV:

  • Customize Your Resume: For each job application, tailor your resume to highlight the skills and knowledge that are most relevant to the position of truck driver. Highlight any specific training, endorsements, or certificates you hold.
  • Describe Your Skills: Demonstrate your driving abilities, including the ability to manoeuvre heavy vehicles, navigate different terrains, and follow safety standards. Include any other abilities, such as mechanical knowledge for basic car maintenance or competency with GPS devices.
  • Education and Training: Include information about your education, including any driver training classes or certificates you've obtained. Mention any applicable licenses, endorsements, or certifications, such as a Class 1 or Class 3 license, air brake endorsements, or TDG certification.
  • Use Action Verbs: Use action verbs like "operated," "delivered," "inspected," and "secured" to express your truck driving tasks and successes. This adds impact and clarity to your resume.
  • Quantify Your Achievements: When feasible, quantify your accomplishments using exact figures or percentages. For example, provide the amount of weekly miles driven, the percentage of on-time deliveries, and any safety awards or recognition earned.

Where Can This Job Lead Me?

While a job as a Transport Truck Driver can be gratifying in its own right, there are options for promotion and alternate career routes:

  • Fleet Manager/Dispatcher: Truck drivers with experience and established leadership qualities can rise to positions such as fleet manager or dispatcher. Individuals in these jobs are in charge of leading a team of drivers, arranging timetables, managing logistics, and ensuring that the transportation fleet runs well.
  • Owner-Operator: Some truck drivers may decide to become owner-operators by acquiring or leasing their own vehicles and working independently. This option provides more liberty and the opportunity for larger profits, but it also requires entrepreneurship skills and business knowledge to efficiently handle budgets, contracts, and client relationships.
  • Logistics Coordinator/Supply Chain Manager: The skills and experience gained as a truck driver are particularly applicable to employment in logistics, supply chain management, and transportation coordination. Individuals may advance to jobs such as logistics coordinator, supply chain manager, or warehouse manager, which control the transportation of products and materials across many sectors.
  • Heavy Equipment Operator: Truck drivers with experience driving heavy trucks may be able to find work in related industries such as construction, mining, or forestry. These positions entail operating machines such as bulldozers, excavators, and loaders to transport materials and complete various duties on construction sites.

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