Class 1 licence versus all others

October 27, 2014

Invest a little bit more, get a substantially bigger return

For more than a year our organization has trained a substantial number of commercial drivers seeking work in the “North”. The promise of big money has lured many workers to these remote parts.

Within a few weeks of being in the North, Class 1 drivers see a substantial return on investment. And they gain valuable skills and abilities that they can take to other employers when they return home.

Often, when calling driving schools potential students seek information about training to attain a Class 3 (tandem axle truck) licence. A Class 3 licence allows the holder to only operate a dump truck or 5-ton straight truck. And if they do pull a trailer, it can’t exceed 4,600 kg (10,000 lbs).

My first question to the person asking about information concerning this type of training is: “why?” Often the s/he responds stating that s/he has a job lined up driving a vacuum truck or the like.

My first point to potential students on the phone is this: If the job driving a Class 3 vehicle works out then everything is fine; however, if it doesn’t, finding another job is probably going to have some challenges. And then you’re stuck in the middle of nowhere with only limited offerings to a potential employer. As well, money reserves are depleted quickly in these places where cost of living tends to be exorbitant.

However, with a Class 1 licence, those seeking a job in the north or anywhere else are going to have a much easier time. And because they can legally drive any vehicle, these drivers have both choice, and competent skills and abilities to offer an employer.

Class #1 & #3 Licence Comparison

Class #1

Class #3

Can operate any class of licence except motorcycle

Can operate only a tandem axle truck and passenger vehicles

Probability of getting job: Excellent

Probability of getting job: Fair

On average, costs $6000

On average, costs $2000

Time to make cost of training back: few weeks

Time to make cost of training back: few months

Approximate time for training: 10 4-hour lessons plus road test

Approximate time for training: 3 4-hour lessons plus road test

Can operate a bus (Class 2 and 4)

Can’t operate a bus

Can tow any trailer

Can tow a trailer not exceeding 4,600 kg


Even though they have a number of these vehicles in their fleet, many trucking companies have a covert policy that they simply don’t hire Class 3 drivers. With our current economic recession, they have this luxury.

And there is a logistical reason for only hiring Class 1 drivers. If Ralph the Class 1 driver calls in sick for example, dispatch simply goes down their roster of available Class #1 drivers to find a replacement. They don’t look at their roster and strike off Ted, Bill and José because they only have a Class 3 licence.

From the point of view of the company, it makes logistical and practical sense for them to have a pool of drivers that can “legally” operate any and all of the vehicles in their fleet.

Alternatively, if a Class #1 driver gets tired of driving a truck, s/he could seek work as a bus driver without too much fuss. Those who hold a Class #1 licence can operate any type of bus. Although still driving, operating a bus brings with it a whole different set of challenges from that of trucking.

“Short term pain for long-term gain.” For most, the tuition cost to obtain Class 1 training is their biggest stumbling block. As stated above however, the return on investment will be seen within a few weeks. Often relatives are more than willing to help out if they see you working to move forward. And if they’re not willing to loan you the money just because of your gracious smile and award winning personality – tell them that you’ll take them for a ride in a 18-wheeler if they help you to get your licence.

Photo By Ikiwaner (talk · contribs) (Own work) [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons