So, You Want To Be A Trucker? Five Steps to a Class 1 Licence

This is how a few of our trucking Twitter tweeps (say that five times fast) responded when asked what they like about hauling goods around the province. Many people love trucks and have the drive to explore B.C.’s diverse landscapes while helping the economy move. Do you? If so, here’s how to get started.

Step 1: Be sure you qualify

You fit the bill if you have a Class 5 or 6 driver’s licence, which are the full privilege licences that allow you to drive a standard passenger vehicle or motorcycle. You also must be at least 19 years of age.

Step 2: Hit the books

Knowledge is horsepower. Before getting behind the wheel, you’ll need to fill your head with all kinds of trucking know-how, from heavy vehicle braking to identifying signs, signals and road markings. ICBC publishes Driving Commercial Vehicles, a study guide for current and aspiring professional drivers. Give it a solid read (or two) and have a friend quiz you on the content.

Step 3: Put what you’ve learned to the written test

Drop by your local driver licensing office to spill the knowledge you’ve learned on paper by taking the commercial vehicle knowledge test. No need for an appointment, but you’ll need to arrive an hour before the office closes.

Hopefully you studied hard because you must answer 28 of the 35 multiple choice questions correctly to receive your Learner’s licence. You can also take your air brake knowledge test during the same visit; that way, you pay only one fee and can practise with air brake equipped vehicles. Before writing the air brake knowledge test, you must pass an air brake course or prove that you already have adequate air brake experience.
Step 4: Get behind the wheel and practise, practise, practise

Now that you have your Learner’s licence, you can start building firsthand experience behind the wheel. There is no provincial standard for truck driving training prior to taking the commercial road test, but you will be better prepared for success after taking a truck driving school program. There are many schools in B.C., varying in terms of course length and hours in classroom, in-cab and on the road. Some schools offer mentorship programs, so best to do your research to choose which school is right for you.

Step 5: Put what you’ve learned to the road test

You’ve booked your commercial driver road test at your local driver licensing office and filled out all the paperwork. Now it’s go time. The road test actually includes two tests: the pre-trip inspection test, including air brakes, and the on-road test. During the pre-trip inspection test, you will show how to inspect the vehicle and complete a written report. During the road test, you will demonstrate all the trucking skills you’ve learned – everything from starting/stopping, shifting gears, turning, backing up, parking, merging on highways and coupling/uncoupling a tractor unit from a trailer.

Now that you’ve earned your Class 1 commercial driver’s licence, you’re ready to roll. But you’ve got some decisions to make. For instance, do you want to be a long-haul driver (typically travelling outside a 160 km radius of home terminal) or short-haul driver (travelling inside 160 km radius)? You likely already made some valuable contacts from your truck school days, particularly if you completed a mentorship program.

The road is wide open… is it your time to take the first step?

Page 1 of 78 comments on “So, You Want To Be A Trucker? Five Steps to a Class 1 Licence”

Leave a Reply to Franz Cancel reply

  1. any funding for class one if your on EI and if not why not I ask the government ? I find you can get funding if your not on ei… who the hell can afford it on ei ?

  2. Hello,

    I have a question hopefully you have answers to. If you’re a Permanent Residence and a trucker crossing US border, what document should you have?
    How is your residence calculated for applying for Canadian citizenship if almost half the time you are not physically in Canada and going back and force US?

    Thank you

  3. Hi,
    I need info about class1 liencence.
    Actually I hAve already class 7 and class 5 when can I get class1 liencence…I meaneed how long time

  4. How difficult is it to find a truck driving job when you have the license. I have heard it is very difficult and there are many people for each vacancy.

    • Hi Jim,
      You might want to connect with the BC Trucking Association. They’d be more knowledgeable about the current hiring climate for prospective truckers.

    • To get a job as a trucker with NO exp is not easy. If I was to hire you, you would go through a training program all over again. What you learn in school and what is required of ICBC to get a class 1 is pretty much 10% of what is required to to the real job. We do flat bed long haul with some oversize loads and in school you learn very little to NOTHING in regard to loading. US reg and even Canadian regulation what you can and can’t do on the road. Nothing about duty hours, log books B/L chaining up, if you truck start sliding at 140000 LBS your course of action is totally dif then a car. Every new candidate I have tested have not learned anything about all the legal requirements. This is of course not your fault but ICBC that set a very low standard in order to get a class 1.

      • BC’s testing requirements represent current best practices in Canada, with the knowledge and road test assessing some of the necessary industry vocational skills concerning logbooks, pre-trip inspection reports, load securement and fuel efficiency. However, there are limitations in what can be reasonably assessed during the ICBC road test. While it is not possible for ICBC to assess all of the vocational skills and industry qualifications Class 1 drivers need, ICBC does strive to ensure that drivers meet basic driving skills and road safety ability.

        We agree that classroom knowledge and the ICBC road test are a foundation of a professional Class 1 driver’s skill development and we recognize the value of on-the-job training and experience to understand and apply industry regulations, appropriate load securement in various trailering scenarios and Class 1 vehicle handling in emergency situations. These are all important components to becoming a competent professional driver and are best accomplished with a combination of schooling and industry training and experience, in addition to the ICBC road test.

        • ICBC – In the statement above you quote BC’s testing requirements represent current best practices in Canada. I am currently looking into testing requirements throughout Canada. Could you please send me the link or links where I can get data and information you have on BC’s being the current best practices in testing requirements. Any data on BC’s testing requirements being the best practice in Canada would be greatly appreciated. Thank You Randy.

        • Its no secret that icbc makes millions off accidents, basic training for a 25 ton + vehicle license is absurd. I know that a push for an apprenticeship program (during licensing) from the industry end is in the works. However, I also heard that ICBC is considering a 28hr class 1 program. Crazy! They have class 1 examiners out there without a class 1 licence telling drivers to speed up and slam it in gear etc to keep up with flow. (with a loaded trailer lol) There are driving schools with instructors who have little experience. (non industry people who just have a licence and think they are fit to train) The problem is that we have a company (ICBC) setting min standards, but it is them who stand to gain off the accidents that are caused by these standards. A smart novice would research driving school credentials and after completion, seek more training on a wide variety of trucks in the industry. Nobody is going to learn on 1 truck. There is a dozen different trucks in the logging business alone. Another viewpoint is that after you pass your road test with a semi trailer you are now fully qualified to get in a Truck with a loaded 53′ lowbed. Good luck in the first corner. There is no defending the low standards in both the experience level in the trainers and examiners, but in the programs themselves.