What Does a Tractor-Trailer Commercial Driver Do?

Tractor-Trailer Commercial Drivers (638A) are licensed (hold a valid Ontario AZ license under the Highway Traffic Act) to drive a commercial tractor-trailer vehicle, in order to manage the safe transportation of goods and materials on roads and highways, sometimes within Canada, or internationally into the United States and Mexico.

Job Related Skills, Interests and Values

  • planning trips that may involve mapping a route to optimize travel time, fuel costs and potential hazards, as well as ensuring fuel stops, rest stops and layovers to prevent fatigue
  • maintaining information/documentation, including the daily log and trip data by recording data electronically (on-board computers, fax, cellular)
  • performing trailer operations and demonstrating defensive driving skills, particularly in extreme conditions
  • performing pre-trip, en-route and post-trip vehicle inspections
  • backing and docking tractor-trailers
  • coupling and uncoupling trailers
  • securing the load, judging path and trailer clearances
  • managing and adjusting vehicle speed as well as performing visual searches in various types of traffic
  • identifying and reporting malfunctions
  • preparing documents such as the driver's daily log, expense reports, customer documents to facilitate border crossing, documenting cargo on bills of lading
  • reading and interpreting cab instrumentation and control systems
  • dealing with and reporting collisions

Additional information on training standards for this particular trade in the Industrial sector may be found on the Ontario College of Trades (OCOT) website at: http://www.collegeoftrades.ca/trades/training-standards1/industrial

What Preparation and Training Do You Need?

To become a Tractor-Trailer Commercial Driver you must be 18 years of age, and possess a valid Ontario AZ Driver's License under the Highway Traffic Act. Those driving tractor-trailers crossing into the United States must be 21 years of age. You must complete 2,000 hours of training that includes up to 12 weeks of mentor training, and up to 40 weeks of on-the-job training. This trade is a Voluntary trade with a Certificate of Apprenticeship granted by the Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities upon successful completion. Grade 10, or equivalent, is the minimum educational pre-requisite for entry. This is the minimum to be apprenticed in this trade under the (OCTAA) Ontario College of Trades Apprenticeship Act (2009). Please note that minimum entry requirements to this and other trades are currently under review by the Ontario College of Trades.

What’s Your Future as a Tractor-Trailer Commercial Driver?

Tractor-Trailer Commercial Drivers work non-standard hours, often alone, and may take long distance trips requiring absences from home, or they may have a standard route within a specific territory. People who work in this field must possess a strong sense of spatial orientation, visual acuity, night vision, and have an excellent driving record. They might work for owner-operators and commercial fleets of varying sizes who deliver goods (for-hire and private trucking) locally, across Canada, or internationally, to the United States and Mexico. With the increase in vehicles on the roads particularly in Southern Ontario, tractor-trailer commercial drivers must contend with high traffic volumes, traffic conditions on highways, expressways, mountain and urban roads, and adjust to extreme driving conditions (heat or cold), day or night. With the increasing volume of goods transported by  trucks on highways, demand for this occupation has grown significantly in the last decade. According to an overview of Ontario's employment patterns at the following url: www.ontariojobfutures.ca occupations requiring high school and/or occupation-specific training will account for 29 percent of projected new jobs. In this category, one of the the jobs expected to have the best prospects through 2010 is Truck Driver.

Check out the Ontario Trucking Association website for more details about future prospects in the trucking industry in a variety of jobs: http://ontruck.org/careers-in-trucking/

Wage Rate

  • Apprentices generally earn less than fully qualified Journeypeople
  • Wages increase as your ability and productivity increase
  • You can get an idea of what people earn in this occupation by checking out the Human Resources and Development website:  www.workingincanada.gc.ca
  • you will see that wages vary from a high of $28 per hour, to a low of $15 per hour depending on the geographic location where a person works


Ask Yourself: Is Working as  Tractor-Trailer Commercial Driver For You?

Do you have good eyesight, spatial sense and night vision?

Yes      No

Do you have an excellent driving record and an Ontario AZ driver's license?

Yes      No

Do you like driving and operating vehicles safely, and spending a significant amount of time on the road in all types of weather?

Yes      No

Would you enjoy work that involves overnight travel,or longer absences from home?

Yes      No

Can you communicate effectively with co-workers and customers, and do you pay attention to detail?

Yes      No

Are you flexible and willing to adjust to customer needs?

Yes      No

Are you physically able to sit for long periods of time, and able to shift up and down through all the necessary gears?

Yes      No

If you answered Yes to most of these questions, a career as a Tractor-Trailer Commercial Driver may be for You!

You may also want to explore other careers that require similar interests and skills, such as:

  • Truck Dispatcher
  • Dock & Warehouse Operations
  • Truck & Coach Technician


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