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The Truck Driver Shortage in the United States and Canada Is a Golden Earning Opportunity

6 minute read

By Lesley Harrison

Over the past few years, a problem has been building: there’s a lack of truck drivers. Both the United States and Canada are facing a massive shortage of truck drivers. With consumers shopping online more than ever, an increasing number of drivers is necessary for deliveries. The trucking industry needs new drivers, and some companies are willing to pay you to become one. Thanks to the shortage, many companies are increasing new driver incentives and salaries. If you want a career that offers immediate fantastic pay, this may be the career for you. Start your career in truck driving by searching online for openings right now.

Why Is There a Shortage of Truck Drivers?

The shortage of truck drivers is worldwide, but it’s particularly pronounced in the United States, with the American Truck Driver’s Association1 expecting the shortfall to hit 160,000 by 2030. The shortage can be attributed in part to the increasing age of the current qualified workforce. Increasing demand is also an issue. It’s estimated that 72% of the country’s freight moves by trucks.

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As more people shop online and supply chain issues cause chaos with deliveries, the shortfall has become more apparent. In addition, the COVID-19 situation has resulted in delays in driver training, meaning truck companies struggle to replace workers who retire or leave the profession.

Why Become a Truck Driver?

If you’re looking for steady, reliable work, driving a truck may be a good choice. Because drivers are in such high demand at the moment, the compensation offered is good. As an independent truck driver, you can pick and choose the jobs you take, and even if you work for one specific firm, you have some autonomy. You may have fixed routes and delivery deadlines, but your “office” is a truck cabin on the open roads, which can be far more pleasant than an office cubicle next to an annoying co-worker.

A Chance To Travel Across the Country

Truck drivers in the United States and Canada often undertake long journeys on highways and stay in different towns each night. While you don’t get the chance to do much in the way of exploring at each destination, you have the opportunity to take in the scenery on the drive. Some Canadian routes, such as the Pacific Rim Highway and Icefields Parkway, are particularly enjoyable. It’s hard to deny the appeal of such beautiful views, compared to the beige and blue of an office cubicle!

Pay Rates for Truck Drivers Are Rapidly Increasing

The current driver shortage is leading trucking companies to offer better pay and higher salaries to attract new drivers. Truck drivers in the Midwest, for example, are now earning $80,000 — and that’s the starting salary. Some companies are paying even higher wages. Find a truck driving job where you share your driving gigs with a partner, and you may net as much as $100,000 to $150,000 per year2. Your earning potential depends on your experience, the state you drive in and how many miles you drive per year. If you’re not interested in putting in a lot of miles, becoming a trainer for the next generation is also a lucrative option.

The Shortage Means Better Incentives and Benefits

A lucrative salary is just one way trucking companies are wooing new drivers. Thanks to the growing shortage, these companies are also offering enticing incentives for new drivers. In a bid to retain as many drivers as possible, trucking companies are providing more paid holidays, health insurance and other benefits. They’re also offering more options for local routes and flexible work for those who have the driving skills but aren’t ready to commit to the more solitary life of a long-distance driver.

The Challenges of Being a Truck Driver

The high rewards for being a truck driver do come with some downsides. Long-distance driving can be a solitary profession. It involves being away from home several nights a week, which can be difficult if you have a young family. Truck drivers spend a lot of time behind the wheel, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle with such a sedentary job can be a challenge for some. To be a successful truck driver in the long term, you need to enjoy driving, too. If you find it stressful or tend to get bored easily behind the wheel, this profession may not be for you.

How To Find Today’s Truck Driving Jobs

If you’re interested in becoming a truck driver, you need to earn the relevant license for the country you want to work in. If you’re a foreign driver, you also need a visa or work permit. Some agencies offer support for international drivers, helping them arrange the paperwork they need and then connecting them with companies looking for skilled drivers. If you’re not sure about the legal side of becoming a truck driver in the United States or Canada, this may be a simple way to explore your options.

Are There Age Limits for Truck Drivers?

There’s no maximum age limit for becoming a truck driver, but there are minimum age requirements. You need to be 18 to get your truck driving license and 21 or over to drive interstate. Many people start driving trucks later in life, earning their Commercial Driver’s License at the age of 50 or older3. If you’re in good health, have good eyesight and are serious about driving trucks as a profession, you can find lots of employers that welcome older drivers. These companies view older drivers as more likely to be mature and able to make good decisions on the roads.

Truck Driver License Requirements in the United States

Earning a Commercial Driver’s License in the United States is a multistep process4 that includes:

Drivers are required to prove their identity/residency, and the requirements for this can vary between states. There are several classes of Commercial Driver’s License, and the one you need to apply for depends on the size and type of vehicle you wish to drive. If you’ve ever held a license in a state other than the one in which you’re currently applying for the CDL, you may be asked to submit proof of this.

Truck Driver License Requirements In Canada

The process for earning a truck driving license in Canada is similar to the one used in the United States; however, the categories of licenses are different. You must:

Licenses are divided into several classes as well as manual or automatic categories. Drivers who pass their test in an automatic vehicle are issued a permit restricted to automatic truck driving only. Proof of residence (or a work permit) must be supplied along with the application.

Training To Become a Truck Driver

As a would-be truck driver, you have the option of paying for your own training or taking a free course that leads to employment. If you’re considering the latter, it’s important to be aware of the terms of the training. Organizations that train truckers for free typically expect the trucker to stay with the company for a set period of time. If you leave before the end of the contract, you may have to pay back the training fee. Some truck driving schools include Commercial Heavy Equipment Training5 in Canada and Swift Academy6, which covers several areas of the United States.

How International Drivers Can Find Work in the United States or Canada

If you’re interested in becoming a truck driver in Canada, but you live in another country, you need to apply for a permit through the Temporary Foreign Worker Program7. Truck drivers are in high demand, so a person who already has some driving experience and who just needs to acquire the correct Canadian licenses is likely to find it relatively easy to get a permit.

If you’re looking to work in the United States, you need an H-2B visa8. Many recruitment agencies and truck driver training schools are happy to offer support for international applicants, including sponsoring the application for the visa. You need a temporary residence permit to apply for a truck driving license. Your truck driving school can explain the process and help you get all your paperwork in order before you take your tests.

Lesley Harrison