Becoming a long haul trucker can be a very rewarding career as it’s a great way to see the country and get paid to do it. In order to become a truck driver in Ontario, there are a few things you need to know to get started. Below, I’ll outline the steps you need to take in order to get your CDL and what to do after you get your license.
1) Get Your License
First, to drive a commercial truck in Ontario, you must have your G drivers license or higher. This is a mandatory requirement from the Ministry of Transportation (MTO) but if you have a G1 or G2 class license, you can also apply for an upgrade to become a fully licensed commercial driver.
2) Have a Clean Driving Record
Getting your commercial driver’s license is one thing, but keeping it clean is another. Although it’s possible to get your license reinstated after a major offense like a DUI, getting a job as a semi truck driver will be very difficult as trucking companies will be very cautious about hiring you as a reliable driver for their company.
3) Be A Minimum of 18 Years Old
To become a fully licensed commercial truck driver, you must be at least 18 years old although it’s preferred that you’re over 25 due to the cost of insurance premiums. As companies don’t want to pay higher insurance premiums for a young driver, your age may be a factor in getting a trucking job in the first place. Essentially, the older you are, the more experience it’s assumed you have driving, and the less likely you are to get into an accident that would raise fleet insurance rates.
4) Pass an MTO Approved Medical Test
In order to be a truck driver, it’s extremely important that you’re healthy – plain and simple. Although it may seem like easy work, there is a lot of stress involved being a long haul trucker as you’re under pressure to meet strict deadlines while sitting a majority of the time which is not healthy for the body. Sitting for extended periods of time can wreak havoc on your body, along with stress and lack of sleep. Unfortunately, the MTO medical test is not covered by OHIP and it will be an out of pocket expense of roughly $60.00. If you do have any medical problems, you may have to get permission from a specialist to get your license.
5) Not Have a Criminal Record
As a semi truck driver, you will be dealing with thousands, if not millions of dollars worth of merchandise and your employer has to be able to trust you. If you do have a record, there may be a possibility that you’ll get a job, but probably not something that pays as much as you want. Record-free, you have unlimited options for where you want your career to take you and greater earning potential without anything holding you back.
6) Training Program
Before you can get your full trucking license, you need to go through a truck driver training program. It would be best to find a school that allows you to practice your driving in big, open areas with minimal traffic until you feel more confident in your truck driving skills. Once you have become more self-assured in your driving, you can go out on the road and really become more comfortable driving in normal traffic.
7) Pass the Written Test
To prove that you have really learned all you need to know about driving a semi truck, you will need to pass a written test. The written test will be comprised of everything you have learned in the classroom and there are 60 questions on the test. Topics range from A class, Z class, road signs, and general traffic rules and regulations of the road. This test can be taken at any DriveTest location in Ontario.
8) Pass the Road Test
Before you can start actually driving on the road, you will need to pass a road test. The test is comprised of four parts: a pre-trip inspection, coupling and decoupling of the truck, 90-degree backing manoeuvres, and on-road driving. Once you pass this test, you will receive your trucking license and you can begin your career! In the worst case scenario where you don’t pass, it may indicate you need further training before you can take the driving test again.
9) Starting From the Bottom
In the first few months of having your truck license, don’t expect to make any long haul runs. Your employer is going to want you to prove yourself and your skills before letting you go on any long trips with their expensive trucks. Once you have proven yourself, the possibilities are endless with where you could end up visiting!
10) Do You Need Your Own Truck?
You don’t necessarily need to own your own truck unless you plan on being a private contractor. Initially, you’ll be driving the companies’ truck unless you branch off on your own, you will then have to go through the process every truck owner goes through including buying, registering and insuring your truck.
As I mentioned above, becoming a truck driver can be a very rewarding career with all the places you’ll go, although it is a little bit of a process. With dedication and hard work, you’ll have the opportunity to travel to places you wouldn’t normally see while making a lot of money!