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Occupational Profile

Truck Driver

Truck drivers operate gasoline or diesel powered trucks, tractor-trailers and similar vehicles to transport goods and materials over local routes or long distances.

  • Avg. Salary $65,356.00
  • Avg. Wage $28.75
  • Minimum Education Varies
  • Outlook Average
Also Known As

Driver, Multi-Wheel Truck Operator

NOC & Interest Codes
The Truck Driver is part of the following larger National Occupational Classification (NOC).
Long-Haul Truck Drivers
NOC code: 7411.1
METHODICAL

Interest in copying to record cargo information, distance travelled, fuel consumption and other information in log books or on on-board computers, and to obtain special permits and other documents required to transport cargo on international routes; and in performing pre-trip inspections of vehicle systems and equipment such as tires, lights, brakes, and cold storage

OBJECTIVE

Interest in driving straight and articulated trucks to transport goods and materials; may drive as part of a two-person team or convoy, and may transport hazardous products and dangerous goods

directive

Interest in speaking to communicate with dispatchers and other drivers using citizens' band (CB) radios, cellular telephones and on-board computers; and in overseeing all aspects and functions of vehicle such as condition of equipment, loading and unloading, and safety and security of cargo

Reading Interest Codes
A Quick Guide

The interest code helps you figure out if you’d like to work in a particular occupation. 
It’s based on the Canadian Work Preference Inventory (CWPI), which measures 5 occupational interests: Directive, Innovative, Methodical, Objective and Social.

Each set of 3 interest codes is listed in order of importance.

A code in capital letters means it’s a strong fit for the occupation.

A code in all lowercase letters means the fit is weaker.

Learn More

Duties
Updated Feb 28, 2017

Duties and responsibilities vary from one position to another but, in general, truck drivers:

  • operate trucks and manoeuvre them in tight spaces
  • routinely inspect brakes, tires, lights, horns, and cooling and refrigeration equipment before leaving the warehouse or terminal
  • load trucks to maximize the use of space and distribute weight accordingly, and to ensure safety on the road 
  • secure loads by using approved blocking, padding and tie down methods 
  • conduct security checks and inspections along the way
  • make emergency roadside adjustments and repairs
  • follow local and interprovincial highway safety regulations
  • ensure vehicle and axle weights meet regulatory requirements 
  • keep records of loads delivered and picked up, including arrival and departure times, and maintain vehicle log books (fuel consumption, mileage, hours of service).

Some truck drivers specialize in operating vehicles such as:

  • heavy trucks for overweight or oversized loads
  • tank trucks which transport bulk liquids
  • gravel trucks
  • tractor-trailers (two or more vehicles hooked together)
  • forestry and logging trucks
  • extended length vehicles
  • industrial trucks with special equipment (for related information, see the Oil and Gas Transportation Services Occupations occupational profile)
  • garbage trucks (for more information, see the Municipal Recycling Truck Driver and Refuse Collector occupational profiles).

Many truck drivers are owner-operators who own their own vehicles and lease their services to other companies.

Working Conditions
Updated Feb 28, 2017

Truck drivers often work long hours, primarily behind the wheel. They drive in all kinds of weather, traffic and road conditions.

Truck drivers' work loads and schedules vary depending on the goods being transported and the distances travelled. Some local truck drivers start with a loaded truck in the morning and make deliveries all day, returning with an empty truck to the warehouse or plant at the end of the day. Other local drivers return to reload after each delivery.

Long distance truck drivers move goods between cities and across the continent. They often work long hours and travel at night. On relatively short runs, drivers may transport loaded trailers to nearby cities, pick up different loads for the return trip, and return to their starting points the same day. On longer runs, drivers may be away for a week or longer. Sitting for long periods of time can be hard on the back. Truck drivers are subject to hours of service regulations and must record their hours in a prescribed log book. Log books must be kept up to date and be made available for inspection when required by department of transportation personnel.

Depending on the products being transported, truck drivers may or may not be responsible for loading and unloading trucks. When drivers are expected to unload, they may have helpers. Loading and unloading may require lifting items that weight over 20 kilograms.

  • Strength Required Lift up to 10 kg
Skills & Abilities
Updated Feb 28, 2017

Truck drivers need the following characteristics:

  • good health and vision
  • the ability to learn how to use on-board computer devices
  • the ability to remain alert and maintain a high level of concentration
  • good interpersonal skills and a customer service orientation
  • good time management skills
  • good judgement and the ability to react quickly in emergency situations
  • the mechanical ability required to make minor repairs.

They should enjoy driving, taking a methodical approach to recording information and obtaining required documentation, and talking to others involved in loading and receiving shipments.

Educational Requirements
Updated Feb 28, 2017

In Alberta, a system of Classified Driver Licensing sets medical standards (including drug screening) and licensing requirements for handling specific types of trucks and combination vehicles. Trucking companies may hire only drivers who qualify under this system. Air brake endorsements are required for Class 1, 2 and 3 licenses. Applicants for Class 1 licenses must:

  • be at least 18 years of age
  • have a valid Alberta Class 5 driver's licence (not graduated)
  • pass knowledge tests
  • satisfy medical requirements. 

Employers also may require drivers to have:

  • first aid and CPR certification
  • WHMIS (Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System) training
  • TDG (Transportation of Dangerous Goods) training
  • H2S Alive training
  • Grade 10 English reading and writing skills.

Drivers who haul to the United States must be at least 21 years of age and able to pass U.S. drug testing requirements. Employers generally prefer to hire drivers who do not have a criminal record, have no more than six demerits and are insurable at a reasonable cost (which usually means 25 years of age or older).

Truck drivers must be able to manoeuvre trucks through narrow streets and alleys, into tight parking spaces, and up to loading docks. They also need a good understanding of traffic laws and trucking regulations in different jurisdictions, and how to conduct pre-trip, load check, enroute check and post-trip inspections.

Many people get started in the trucking industry by taking training courses offered by public colleges or private truck driving schools. Program length, content, costs and admission requirements vary. Truck driving schools may require students to have a clear driving record or minimum number of demerits, or a medical examination.

Before enrolling in a program, prospective students should visit several schools and compare their facilities for classroom instruction, the vehicles used for instruction and the qualifications of the instructors. Another good way to evaluate a school is to talk to former students and ask local trucking companies if they hire graduates from that school.


Related Education

The following schools offer programs or courses that are related to this occupation but are not required to enter the field.

Southern Alberta Institute of Technology

For a broad list of programs and courses that may be related to this occupation try searching using keywords.

Employment & Advancement
Updated Feb 28, 2017

Average occupational growth is expected in Alberta for 2016 to 2020. Job openings are a result of employment turnover and newly created positions.

Truck drivers may work as employees or self-employed contractors for:

  • transportation companies
  • manufacturing and distribution companies
  • retail outlets
  • moving companies.

Some truck drivers start work in entry level jobs such as yard worker, dock handler, checker or clerk and advance to driving positions after they acquire the required operator's license and a driving position becomes available.

Many local drivers and a few long distance drivers have regularly assigned runs. Drivers who work for smaller companies are more likely to be assigned regular runs early in their employment. In large companies, drivers usually start on the "extra board" where they bid for runs on the basis of seniority.

Once they have gained some truck driving experience, drivers may be assigned to long haul or highway driving. As long as their driving records remain acceptable and they maintain good health, they may continue driving as long as they wish. Or they may move into related areas such as operations (freight handling, dock supervision, dispatching) or communications (tracking the movement of shipments and trucks). Drivers who have business knowledge and skills may choose to purchase their own trucks or fleet of trucks.

In Alberta, 79% of people employed as truck drivers work in the following industries:

The employment outlook in this occupation will be influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • trends and events affecting overall employment (especially in the industries listed above)
  • location in Alberta
  • employment turnover (work opportunities generated by people leaving existing positions)
  • occupational growth (work opportunities resulting from the creation of new positions that never existed before)
  • size of the occupation.

Over 44,500 Albertans are employed in the Truck drivers occupational group. This group is expected to have an average annual growth of 1.7% from 2016 to 2020. As a result, 757 new positions are forecast to be created each year, in addition to job openings created by employment turnover.

Employment turnover is expected to increase as members of the baby boom generation retire over the next few years.

Wage & Salary
Updated Feb 28, 2017

Wages in the trucking industry vary depending on the type of work, load and vehicle.

Truck drivers are part of the larger 2011 National Occupational Classification 7511: Transport truck drivers.

According to the 2015 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, Albertans in the Transport truck drivers occupational group earned on average from $24.81 to $34.56 an hour. The overall average wage was $28.75 an hour. For more information, see the Transport truck drivers wage profile.

Related High School Subjects
  • Trades, Manufacturing and Transportation
    • Logistics
    • Mechanics
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Driver Training
Other Sources of Information
Updated Feb 28, 2017

Alberta Transportation website: www.transportation.alberta.ca

Careers in Transportation website: www.transpocity.ca

For more information on career planning, education and jobs, visit the Alberta Learning Information Service (ALIS) website, call the Alberta Career Information Hotline toll-free at 1-800-661-3753 or 780-422-4266 in Edmonton, or visit an Alberta Works Centre near you.

Updated Mar 30, 2015. The information contained in this profile is current as of the dates shown. Salary, employment outlook and educational program information may change without notice. It is advised that you confirm this information before making any career decisions.

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