If you’ve ever considered getting a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) and switching careers to trucking or heavy machine operation, right now is definitely the time to do so. There’s a significant shortage of CDL workers across virtually every industry that uses commercial drivers, so finding work is easy. Better yet, because it’s a “seller’s market,” you’ll be in a good position to get strong wages from the beginning.
Of course, getting a CDL in Ontario isn’t easy. There are many hours of training involved, 150 at a minimum but typically over that for a quality program. It’ll take time and commitment to get your license. That said, for students who are serious, they can potentially get their license in just a few months. There aren’t many industries where you can become fully trained and licensed in such a short amount of time!
By far, the best way to do this is to attend a respectable truck training school. A good school will give you all the training and practical experience you need to get on the path to success. But with numerous CDL schools in Ontario, which would be best for you?
Here are some of the most important things to look for.
Six Signs Of A Great Truck Training School In Ontario
1 – Licensing, certification, and reputation
First and foremost, your school must be fully accredited, with licensing and certification from the state. Sadly, this isn’t always the case. Any good school will happily demonstrate that they’re fully qualified, so you don’t need to have any doubts.
That said, reputation matters as well. Be sure to do plenty of research into reviews and testimonials from previous students, so you know whether the school is actually good in practice. A little time spent browsing online will make the selection process much easier.
2 – Experienced staff
While you’re researching schools, be sure to look into their staff and faculty as well. After all, just about anyone can teach from a book – but that doesn’t mean they have the experience needed to give you useful truck training.
The best schools will recruit their teachers from the industry itself, such as former drivers who’ve decided to settle down at the end of their career. Experienced staff will help students excel, by giving real-world hints and tips that no textbook would ever include.
Plus, success typically breeds success: the best schools will naturally attract the best would-be teachers. If the school has a lot of highly qualified faculty, that speaks very well to the quality of the school.
3 – Dedicated training facilities
There are a lot of CDL classes being offered in tiny ‘schools’ in the middle of the city, and often for cut rates. The problem is, how are they supposed to train you on the actual vehicles? All too often, these schools focus solely on the theoretical side of trucking, while leaving it to the student to find practical on-road training themselves.
So, the best schools are actually located outside the city. Yes, this is a bit more inconvenient, but it means they have room to maintain full training facilities. Here at 5th Wheel, we have an entire simulated job site set up to be as close as possible to the real thing. That’s the sort of practical experience that will impress employers when you go looking for work.
4 – Job Placement Assistance
A good truck training school would never just send you off to sink or swim, once classes are concluded. The best CDL schools in Ontario will have multiple options for helping their students find work, such as hosting job boards or leveraging contacts within the industry.
The best schools will even become magnets for industry recruiters, looking to grab new hires the moment they become licensed. With the right truck training from the right school, you could walk straight out its doors and into your first job with no extra effort.
But what job do you want?
5 – Multiple Training Types
The fields of truck driving, municipal driving, passenger transportation, and construction work all overlap, in that they all require commercial driver’s licenses. However, the required licenses and certifications will vary depending on the field and the type of vehicle being driven.
For example, an “AZ” license is what’s typically needed for any kind of trucking, especially medium- and long-haul jobs. However, a “DZ” license is a bit easier to get, and still qualifies you to drive a variety of municipal vehicles such as fire trucks, dump trucks, or snowplows.
A great school will even go the extra mile and include training for various construction equipment as well. This can significantly diversify your job options! It’s also great for seasonal work, such as operating a bulldozer during the summer construction season, then driving snowplows for the city during the winter.
6 – Reasonable Costs
Running a full-featured truck training school is not cheap. There’s a lot of land and a lot of vehicles to keep up, plus staffing. Getting a CDL from a respectable truck training school will cost a few thousand at a minimum, possibly into the low ten thousands.
It might be tempting to attend a cut-rate school instead, but again, they typically don’t give you all the training you need to get a job immediately. They likely don’t have very good staff either.
Instead, look at it as an investment. After all, the average wage for truck drivers in Canada is around $70K a year, and starting salaries are still at minimum $35K or more. Plus, wages are still trending upwards, due to labor shortages. Compared to that, ten thousand for the training really isn’t so expensive, and it’ll pay for itself within a year. And it’s still much cheaper than many other professional training options.
The 5th Wheel Training Institute Can Put You On The Road To Success!
We’re one of Ontario’s premiere CDL schools, in operation since the 1985, and respected across the industry. Our teachers have impeccable qualifications, and shipping companies from across the continent come to us to recruit new drivers.
If you’re ready for a new career, 5th Wheel can make it happen. Click here to learn more about us!