Newbie Questions

Discussion in 'Canadian Truckers Forum' started by Snake92, Nov 9, 2023.

  1. Snake92

    Snake92 Bobtail Member

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    Nov 9, 2023
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    Hey guys, looking to get my license soon but want to make sure I start out on the right track. I'm sure questions like these get old so I apologize in advance but this isn't the busiest subforum so figured what's the harm in asking. I have done quite a bit of research over the last few days but finding Canadian-specific info is tricky, especially info outside of Ontario. Or maybe the info is out there and I just don't know where to look.
    I'm 31, losing my current job at the end of the month and thinking of making a change. Spent 8 years in the oilfield and the last few years working for the city. Truck driving is something I've always wanted to try and figured hell, why not now. Did some one-ton hot shot work in my day so I'm not a stranger to long hours on the highway, but I realize this is a different beast so any and all advice is appreciated

    -Driving schools in Calgary, does anyone know who the good ones are/who to avoid? Plenty of obvious Mickey Mouse operations that even I can see aren't worth my time, but still want to make sure I'm barking up the right tree here. Basic level research so far has me looking at CCA or Jonas, but if anyone has experiences to share that would help me out big-time

    -What are the companies hiring new drivers these days? Which are worth it and who to avoid? I'd prefer to do OTR and avoid the Oilfield if possible, but of course willing to do anything to get a few years of experience on my belt before being picky. Looking at Indeed shows no lack of suitors but this is a whole new world to me

    Thanks again to anyone that can help point me in the right direction, just looking to absorb as much info as possible.
     
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  3. upnorthwpg

    upnorthwpg Road Train Member

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    Honestly, probably not a good time to get in. Freight is down, lots of drivers. Especially if you’re running canada. If you can get your fast card and can run the states, more options… even that’s down too. Don’t want to rain on your dream, but schools are a lot of money and rates are not very good.
     
  4. Snake92

    Snake92 Bobtail Member

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    Nov 9, 2023
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    Appreciate the info all the same. Thinking I'll still take a stab at it if the Alberta Government grant is still available to pay for most of it
     
  5. Ex-Trucker Alex

    Ex-Trucker Alex Medium Load Member

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    There's always the chance that between now and the time you finish the course and get your CDL that the economy will improve.
     
  6. uncleal13

    uncleal13 Road Train Member

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    Don’t know about Calgary. Cameron Truck Driving School in Edmonton has always been good for at least 30 years that I know of. I have a nephew going through there right now and he says they have been very professional and patient.
    The all around absolute best is Mountain Transport Institute in Castlegar, BC. Not cheap. They weed out people that don’t have the aptitude for trucking, your back ground you’ll be fine. They actually teach you useful skills as they have lots of mountain hills for practice.
    After you graduate and get your license the insurance industry loves their training so much that they give you the equivalent of three years driving experience if you get a job.
    I know Rosenau Transport hires new guys, especially with a proven reliable work back ground. Probably would do city pickup and delivery for quite a while, but that would give you lots of experience backing up.
     
  7. Albertaflatbed

    Albertaflatbed Light Load Member

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    Not sure about which school is best in Calgary, I'm edmonton based myself. Cameron and Maple are both reputable here (Cameron owns Maple).

    For jobs do a search for "class 1" on indeed and you will find there are lots of jobs listed, use that as a tool to narrow down your preferred companies. Then check their company websites, see what the companies are offering.

    Off the top of my head, Syndicate seems to hire regularly, the driving school will have contacts as well of companies hiring.
     
  8. Bodhi

    Bodhi Light Load Member

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    I did CCA back in 2004 and they were great, highly recommend them.
     
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  9. BigHossVolvo

    BigHossVolvo Road Train Member

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    Calgary, Alberta
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    I'm born and Raised in Calgary, and I've been in this trucking thing since I lost my Oil and Gas Job in 2015. My Dad drove Fuel Tanker and Step-deck in the 70's and Early 80's, so I've been around the industry for a while.

    I started at Bison Transport to get experience, and I almost went bankrupt running 24-26 days a month with them (search my name, for lots of info). Since then I've done Company OTR, Owner Op OTR, Owner Op LCV, Company City. The place i'm at now, is a large Canadian LTL carrier, with terminals across Canada. 267 Trucks, 679 Trailers. I've been here 5 years, which included a 10 month stint in the office. I'm currently driving Daycab in Calgary hourly, and I also do road testing and LCV training.

    The situation right now, looks like this. Everyone and their dog has started a truck driving school, and they are pumping out Class 1 drivers like no tomorrow. Pretty much the only 2 driving schools most companies recognize, are CCA and Derek Browns. However Derek Browns can be iffy with most companies, CCA is a sure thing.

    Our HR department is getting 75 applications a day, 7 days a week for class 1 drivers. Its literally insane the volume of people who are out there looking for class 1 jobs. Yes there are tons of ad's for class 1 jobs, but 99% of those are 2-3 or 5 years experience with 0 incidents of any kind (Anyone with that much experience, would NEVER work for any of the jobs currently on Indeed). Insurance is dictating these requirements, so getting a job with a fresh class 1 is extremely difficult right now. Most of the companies who will take fresh class 1's (Lightspeed, Bison, TransX etc etc) you won't make enough money to survive, unless you own nothing and live in the their truck. The freight market is going to be in the toilet for years, esp if the US elects Biden again in 2024.

    As far as the government grant for class 1 goes, I know 5 guys since 2019 who used that to get their class 1. 3 at Derek Browns, 2 at CCA. None of them have ever driven a single day, as they refused to work for what Bison/Lightspeed were offering, refused to Team drive, and refused to be on the road 24-28 days a month. I'm not sure of the details, but all say the Government wants money back.

    What I tell people now, is simply get your Class 3A ($400bux) Vs paying $12-18K for Class 1 MELT. Get a gravel truck or straight truck power tailgate/deck/picker/vac truck job, and enjoy working as much as you want, for 2-5X the money of Freight Hauling. As you know, its build baby build in Southern Alberta, and these jobs will be hot for many many years to come. You might be asking "well why don't all the freight haulers go do those jobs then?" simple, its to much work for them lol. (we have the same issue in City, most new hires last 2 days, and go back OTR). The other option, is get your class 3A and go work for UPS/Purolator/XPO etc etc. The LTL companies are always busy, and they can't seem to stop throwing money at drivers to keep things flowing. I would avoid the food service companies (Gordon, Sysco, Core-Mark) they pretty much hate their drivers, and enforce so much corporate caring, that their lives are a living hell.

    Anyway, I know this isn't what you wanted to hear, but its what's really going on. IE my company used to require 2 years exp to work here, but they recently upped it to 3, because we can afford to be picky now, with the constant stream of applicants coming in.
     
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  10. Bodhi

    Bodhi Light Load Member

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    Jan 18, 2020
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    This is some great advice! =)
     
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  11. Snake92

    Snake92 Bobtail Member

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    Nov 9, 2023
    Calgary, AB
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    Thanks for all the advice, I'm definitely starting to see this myself as well. From keeping an eye on things for the last few weeks even I can tell the jobs listed on indeed are mostly crap, either full time running ads that aren't actually hiring or just running for appearances sake. On top of that, $10k for a class 1 MELT just to earn the same amount of money as I was 15 years ago as a dumb young labourer just doesn't make sense. Certainly has been an eye-opener the last few weeks, trucking definitely doesn't seem to be what I thought it was from 10-15 years ago, guess that's why you do your research and talk to the old boys first.

    Thanks again for all the advice fellas, thinking I'll go ahead and put this idea in the rearview
     
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