Truck Drivers

Unit Group 7411

Skill Type: Trades, Transport and Equipment Operators and Related Occupations

Type of work

Truck drivers operate heavy trucks to transport goods and materials over urban, interurban, provincial and international routes. This unit group also includes shunters who move trailers to and from loading docks within trucking yards or lots.

For the full and official description of this occupation according to the National Occupational Classification, visit the NOC site.

Examples of Occupational Titles

  • bulk goods truck driver
  • dump truck driver
  • flatbed truck driver
  • logging truck driver
  • long-haul truck driver
  • moving van driver
  • tow truck driver
  • truck driver
  • truck driver, heavy truck
  • truck driver, tractor-trailer


Job prospects in this occupation are fair.

(Update: September 2015)

Over the last few years, the number of truck drivers increased significantly, except during the 2008-2009 recession. This increase was a result of economic growth in general, and more specifically of growth in international trade, especially with the United States. Given the expected economic growth for the Quebec, the Canada and the United States, the number of truck drivers should increase slightly over the next few years.

Sources of employment

Job opportunities will result primarily from the need to replace truck drivers who will be retiringand, to a lesser degree, from employment increase. Jobs will also be created by the need to replace people who leave this occupation to work in other occupations, such as truck driving instructors (see 4216), dispatchers (see 1475) and security guards (see 6651), or because they have been promoted to positions as motor transport supervisors (see 7222) or even transportation managers (see 0713).

Labour pool

The pool of people able to fill these jobs is relatively large. It consists primarily of people who have a driver's licence for the appropriate class of vehicle being driven (classes 1 to 3) or who have experience as delivery drivers (see 7414) or bus drivers (7412). The pool also includes a large number of unemployed truck drivers with experience, people who have taken training courses offered by private institutions and graduates of vocational programs (DEP) in trucking. Some positions are expected to be filled by immigrants who meet the entrance requirements for the occupation. Although the percentage of immigrants in this occupation in 2011 was lower than in all occupations (9% compared with 14%, according to National Household Survey data), positions are accessible to newcomers.

Historically, candidates did not require a specific academic program to work in this occupation. But the situation is very different today. Although it is still possible to find work without a diploma, it is less and less frequent. Various data from different sources support this fact. First, the proportion of truck drivers with post-secondary diplomas in 2011, while still low at 48% (compared with 68% in all occupations, according to National Household Survey data) , has grown significantly since 1991 (17%). This increase indicates that the percentage of new truck drivers with such diplomas is rising strongly. Furthermore, the number of graduates with a DEP in trucking increased more than 700% between 1994-1995 and 2011-2012, going from about 250 to more than 2,100, according to provincial government Relance survey data. A sign of real change in the conditions for finding work in this occupation is that graduates with this DEP were able to maintain a better labour market average throughout this period, except in 2009 due to the recession, than graduates of all DEP programs, with an excellent placement rate, lower unemployment rate, much higher proportion of full-time and education-related jobs, and much better wages.

Although this labour pool appears to be relatively large and increasingly better educated at first glance, employers frequently have trouble recruiting employees because a large share of candidates interested in working in this occupation do not meet employers' requirements.

Employers rarely hire people under 25 years old because of the high cost of insurance premiums for young people and because employers usually prefer candidates to have considerable maturity and at least a few years of experience driving vehicles professionally (eg, as delivery drivers). According to National Household Survey data, in 2011, approximately 3.3% of truck drivers were under 25, a proportion four times lower than in all occupations (13.3%), even though this occupation does not require a high level of schooling. Second, candidates are not always willing to be away from home for long periods, as required by some jobs. The Diagnostic de la main-d'œuvre dans le secteur du transport routier de marchandises au Québec [road freight transportation sector diagnosis of labour], published in January 2012 by CAMO-Route, confirms that the greater the distance to be covered, the more difficult hiring becomes. Some of the other reasons most cited by employers included a lack of experience, unsatisfactory working conditions (owing to competition with other sectors, such as the mining sector, which offers better working conditions) and the lack of training. In addition, the younger generation of workers is less inclined to work away from home and demands less restrictive schedules.


According to National Household Survey data, in 2011 about 62% of truck drivers worked in the transportation industry, mainly in truck transportation (56%). The others were in many other industries, primarily manufacturing (8%), construction (6%) and wholesale (6%).


Employment growth in this occupation depends primarily on economic, organizational and regulatory factors.

Economic factors - economic growth

In terms of the economy, the primary factor to consider is clearly economic growth in general. When consumers, businesses and governments increase spending, the demand for transportation increases proportionately. The number of truck drivers

  • dropped in the recession in the early 1990s
  • increased slowly in the middle of the decade when economic growth was weak
  • rose sharply in the second half of the decade when the economy was gaining strength
  • remain fairly stable between 2000 and 2006, when economic growth was weaker before rising once again in 2007 and 2008
  • decreased in 2009 and 2011 due to recession
  • increased between 2010 and 2014 with the economic recovery

Considering our growth forecasts, this factor should foster growth in employment in this occupation, but less than before.

Other economic factors

Up to 2000, employment in this industry profited from the strong growth in international trade, especially with respect to exports to the United States (destination for 80 to 85% of our exports in those years). Between 1990 and 2000, from 45% to 55% of all exports was done by truck. Especially because of the greater proportion of our exports heading to other countries and the growth of oil exports, that percentage has gradually declined thereafter to stand at only 35% in 2014, while pipeline and water transportation increased sharply, according to the Statistics On-Line Database on transportation and transportation-related activities among Canada, the United States and Mexico), unlike exports to other countries. The growth in exports to the US over the 1990s has been twice as high (11% per year) as the growth in exports to other countries (6%). The value of exports to the United States dropped suddenly between 2000 and 2003 and has been fairly stable until 2006 before falling, especially in 2009 due to the 2008-2009 recession, and increasing slightly between 2010 and 2014, but without finding the level observed before the recession. This down trend was mainly due to the slowdown in economic growth in the United States, the rise of the Canadian dollar and increasingly strong competition from low-wage countries, such as China, on the US market. The dynamic domestic market contributed to a strong increase in the value of shipments of manufactured goods from 2003 to 2006, but it was only able to slow their decrease between 2006 and 2008 and was unable to play this role from 2009 to 2014, mainly because of the recession and its consequences.

The value of international trade should increase somewhat in the coming years. First, the increasingly strong recovery in the United States, which accounted in 2014 for about 71% of our international exports of goods according to the Strategis website, increase export opportunities to this country. Then, the recent decline in the value of the Canadian dollar, if sustained, will make both Quebec exports more competitive and imports from other countries less attractive. In addition, because the effects of the recession were much less than expected in Canada and especially in Quebec, the domestic market will also be able to contribute to the growth in the value of shipments and to job growth in this industry.

Note that the increase in demand for truck drivers generated by rising exports to the US is concentrated among long haul truck drivers. As mentioned earlier, the fact that many drivers refuse to be away from home for long periods of time makes it quite difficult for employers to find enough drivers to transport goods to the United States.

Organizational factors

With respect to organization, the adoption of "just-in-time" inventory management led to a slight increase in trucking activities, by reducing the quantities transported and increasing the number of deliveries. The low oil price helps maintain this trend.

Also with respect to organization, a trend toward subcontracting trucking activities marked the last years. This trend affirmed itself in two ways. Companies in all other industries, especially manufacturing, decided to cease their own activities and subcontract their trucking to firms that specialize in truck transportation. Other businesses, especially in the manufacturing and forestry sectors, preferred to subcontract these activities directly to their salaried drivers, thereby "transforming" them into self-employed workers. According to data from Statistics Canada's Labour Force Survey, this phenomenon is reflected in the percentage of truck drivers (see 7411) working in the transportation industry, which went from 44% in 1990 to 64% in 2007. Although this proportion dropped significantly between 2008 and 2009 (from 61% to 48%) because the recession hit contract trucking harder than trucking in the construction, manufacturing and trade sectors, this trend toward subcontracting trucking activities should continue in the next few years. Moreover, this proportion rose again afterwards to reach 53% in 2014.

Legislative and regulatory factors

Finally, the legislative and regulatory framework can also have an impact on employment growth in this occupation. Faced with growing public awareness of highway road safety, the ministers of transport in all Canadian provinces agreed in 2002 to adopt identical regulations regarding the number of driving hours allowed for heavy vehicles. The standards are aimed at reducing the number of consecutive hours that truckers may drive. Naturally, these regulations will encourage employment growth in this occupation even though their impact may be quite limited. Similarly, many citizens and lobby groups would like police to be stricter in applying the speed limits for truckers. Since 2009, it has been mandatory for heavy vehicles to use electronic speed limiters that cap their speed at a maximum of 105 kilometres per hour. This legislation is encouraging, to a certain extent, employment growth in this occupation.

Technology changes

Over the last few years, truck drivers have seen many technology changes:

  • global positioning systems (GPS) that make it possible to track or find trucks with a high degree of precision
  • the "black box" that records a wide range of data on the mechanics of vehicles or the driving habits of truckers
  • cell phones, pagers and sometimes even computers

Although these changes have little influence on employment growth in this occupation, they nevertheless have a significant impact on the way truck drivers work and on employers' requirements.

Given the expected economic growth for the Quebec, the Canada and the United States, the number of truck drivers should increase slightly over the next few years.

Employment characteristics

According to census and National Household Survey data, women held less than 3% of the jobs in this occupation in 2011, a percentage that has still been rising slightly since 1991 (1%). The annual employment income ($40,728) shown in the "Characteristics" section of the "Statistics" applies only to the 60% of people in this occupation who worked full time and full-year in 2010. The average employment income for those who did not work full time and full-year was $28,399. This income may seem quite high for an occupation that does not require much schooling. But, in 2006 the average work week was much longer than for all other occupations, or 48 hours compared with 37 hours. Long haul truck drivers are frequently away from home for long periods. People in this occupation are often required to lift fairly heavy loads.

Education and Training

Candidates can work in this occupation without any specific training. According to 2011 National Household Survey data, barely 19% of people in this occupation had a post-secondary education in Transportation and Materials Moving. In addition, 31% of them did not have a high school diploma (DES). Although the education requirements are tending to increase, to obtain a driver's licence for the appropriate class of vehicle being driven (classes 1 to 3) and to have an excellent driving record is still a common way of entering this occupation . Depending on the situation, employers require a DES, training in the handling and transport of hazardous products or dangerous goods, and knowledge of or training in mechanics. In addition, many employers provide on-the-job training.

Nevertheless, a vocational diploma (DEP) in trucking is increasingly required. Other training offered in private institutions is an asset.

Registering with theCommission des transports du Québec's register of owners and operators of heavy vehicles is mandatory in order to put a heavy vehicle into operation or to operate it.

Useful References

Important Considerations

Given the expected economic growth for the Quebec, the Canada and the United States thereafter, the number of truck drivers should increase slightly over the next few years.

Candidates can work in this occupation without any specific training. However, a vocational diploma (DEP) in trucking is increasingly required. The labour market for graduates of this vocational program is excellent.

Since candidates are not always willing to be away from home for long periods, employers have a lot of trouble recruiting enough long haul truck drivers.

Statistics 7411 - Truck Drivers

Main Labour Market Indicators

In the following table, indicators such as the growth rate, yearly variation in employment, yearly attrition and total annual requirements are forecasts generated by economists from Service Canada, Quebec region. The data source for employment is Statistics Canada’s Labour Force Survey. The volumes of unemployment insurance beneficiaries come from Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC)’s administrative data. All of the data are rounded.

  Unit Group 7411 All occupations
Employment, average 2011-2013 69,300 3,990,050
Employment Insurance claimants in 2013 1,800 80,700
Average Annual Growth Rate 2014-2018 0.9% 0.7%
Annual Employment Variation 2014-2018 600 26,500
Annual Attrition 2014-2018 1,150 74,300
Total Annual Needs 2014-2018 1,750 100,800

Employment Distribution

The data from the following employment distribution tables come from Statistics Canada’s 2011 National Household Survey (NHS).

  Unit Group 7411 All occupations
Employment by Gender
Males 97.1% 51.9%
Females 2.9% 48.1%
Employment by Age
15 - 24 years 3.3% 13.3%
25 - 44 years 38.3% 42.7%
45 - 64 years 54.5% 41.1%
65 years and over 4.0% 2.8%
Employment by Status
Full-time 94.8% 81.2%
Part-time 5.2% 18.8%
Employment by Annual Income
Full-time, full-year 59.5% 54.8%
Annual Average Income $40,700 $50,300
$0 - $19,999 11.1% 13.3%
$20,000 - $49,999 62.3% 48.0%
$50,000 and over 26.6% 38.8%
Employment by Highest Level of Schooling
Less than high-school 30.6% 12.1%
High-school 21.7% 20.3%
Post-secondary 45.8% 44.2%
Bachelors 2.0% 23.4%
Others Employment Distribution
Self-employment 14.2% 10.7%
Immigration 9.1% 13.7%
Employment by Region
Region Unit Group 7411 All occupations
Abitibi-Témiscamingue 2.8% 1.8%
Bas-Saint-Laurent 3.0% 2.3%
Capitale-Nationale 7.4% 9.4%
Centre-du-Québec 5.7% 2.9%
Chaudière-Appalaches 8.2% 5.5%
Côte-Nord / Nord-du-Québec 1.5% 1.6%
Estrie 4.5% 3.8%
Gaspésie–îles-de-la-Madeleine 1.0% 0.9%
Lanaudière 8.6% 6.1%
Laurentides 7.8% 7.3%
Laval 3.7% 5.2%
Mauricie 4.3% 3.0%
Montérégie 22.4% 19.2%
Montréal 12.0% 22.9%
Outaouais 3.4% 4.9%
Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean 3.8% 3.3%

Main Sectors of Employment

The data of the following table were prepared by economists from Service Canada, Quebec region. The data source is Statistics Canada’s 2011 National Household Survey (NHS).

Sector Unit Group 7411
Transportation and Warehousing 62.3%
- Truck Transportation 55.7%
Trade 9.9%
- Wholesale Trade 6.6%
Manufacturing 8.2%
Construction 7.4%