Class 1 Driver Jobs in Alberta: Opportunities and Qualifications

The unique skills of truck drivers play a pivotal role in our economy. A significant portion of trade between Canada and the United States relies on trucking, with 54.2% of Canadian exports to the US and 71.5% of imports from the US to Canada being transported by truck. Key sectors such as construction, healthcare, utilities, agriculture, retail, storage, and the chemical industry rely heavily on the services offered by truck drivers.

Increased rates of retirement, high turnover rates, high training costs, the rapidly aging driver population, and difficulty recruiting truckers, contribute to predictions that Canada could face a shortage of 25,000 truck drivers by 2025. This situation creates a growing demand for Class 1 drivers in Canada, increasing the number of Class 1 driver jobs (in Alberta especially) available.

Class 1 driver’ expertise in handling complex situations (driving challenges, dangerous loads, stress, physical work) and their ability to adapt to changing conditions (shifting regulations, road conditions, variety of loads, timeline alterations, safety circumstances) make them an invaluable link in the supply chain.

What is a Class 1 Driver in Alberta?

A Class 1 driver is someone who operates a tanker truck, which is a large vehicle equipped with a horizontal, cylindrical tank for transporting various liquids (such as oil, milk, alcohol, gasoline, molasses, juice, wine, water, liquid sugar, diesel, propane, and other flammable or combustible liquids), gases (like chlorine, natural gas, carbon dioxide), dry bulk materials (including sand, gravel, and plastic/wood pellets), and other hazardous substances. These trucks are outfitted with a pump system for the loading and unloading process and are available in different sizes to suit various types of loads, capable of carrying between 1,000 and 11,000 gallons.

In Alberta, Class 1 drivers are tasked with numerous vital responsibilities that demand attention, proficiency, and extensive training. They must hold a Class 1 driver’s license, which qualifies them to operate a wide range of vehicles other than motorcycles. This includes tractor-trailers, semi-trailers, truck-trailers, commercial trucks, haulers, delivery trucks, 2-axle vehicles, recreational vehicles (RVs), all types of single motor vehicles, recreational vehicles, motor coaches, taxis, school buses, transit buses, and ambulances. Additionally, this license allows them to tow trailers with one or more axles.

Becoming a Class 1 Driver

Qualifications needed

The following are the basic qualifications typically needed for employment as a Class 1 driver in Alberta.

  • Completion of high school/grade 12
  • Completion of accredited driver training program (through vocational school or community college).
  • A Class 3 or D license is required for driving straight-body trucks
  • A Class 1 or A license is required for driving long combination vehicles
  • Air brake endorsement (if operating trucks fitted with air brakes)
  • H2S Alive and Standard First Aid Tickets often required
  • Often require Hazmat, tanker, and doubles/triples endorsements
  • May be required to have 2-4 years of experience in a related field(s)
  • 1 to 3 months on-the-job-training
  • Typically need soft skills ( physical health, hearing ability, hand-eye coordination).

Class 1 Driver Training

Canada is home to numerous premier trucking academies equipped to train aspiring truckers for a successful career across different scenarios, including cross-border and long-haul journeys, dry van, refrigerated transport (reefer), and specialized driving areas like flatbed, tanker, and fuel hauling. The duration of these training programs varies from five to twelve weeks, and the cost can range between $5,300 and $15,400. Below is a list of some of Canada’s top truck-driving schools and colleges that can help you get a good job as a Class 1 driver in Alberta.

  • Globe Driving Academy (Calgary AB) is a reliable, friendly driver training center focusing on skills/knowledge and building confidence as a safe professional driver. Their customized driver lesson plans involve the latest equipment and strict safety protocols. They assist students with job search and placement.
  • Big Rig Driving School (Surrey BC) provides an encouraging and comfortable learning experience with top safety standards. They have an extensive Class 1 program with up to 60 hours of private driving instruction (including the air brake course), up to 50 hours in the classroom, up to 25 hours of in-yard training, and up to 5 hours for course review, perfect for aspiring Class 1 drivers in Alberta.
  • Valley Truck Driving School (coastal BC-Abbotsford, Coquitlam, Surrey, Langley, and Chilliwack) has operated since 1995 providing customizable programs for drivers of all experience levels and ages. Their professional instructors ensure students feel confident and comfortable. They offer programs for people with/without experience including one-on-one training with a strong focus on accident prevention and road safety. This driving program includes 150 hours (14 theory sessions – 54 hours, 17 in-cab sessions-66 hours, eight in-yard sessions – 16 hours, and 2 mountain driving trips – 20 hours).
  • Professional Truck Driver Training School (Winnipeg, MB) offers a comprehensive training program focusing on professionalism and safety. They deliver hands-on education, build driver confidence, train safety procedures, encourage mastery of driving techniques, and spotlight rules and regulations.

The Daily Life of Alberta’s Class 1 Driver

Class 1 drivers are tasked with handling specialized vehicles for the transport of gases, liquids, and hazardous substances. The specific job responsibilities and duties can differ across various positions. Below are common tasks associated with the role of a Class 1 driver in Alberta.


  • Operate safely, following safety laws and speed limits
  • Inspect the tank truck, before and after loading (systems, equipment, signals, tires, lights, brakes. etc.)
  • Complete routine truck maintenance (nonemergency and emergency)
  • Plan routes (consider road conditions, traffic delays, and weather)
  • Empty/fill tanks and/or supervise these procedures
  • Check loads for leaks/perform safety checks
  • Remain up to date on changing/new government regulations regarding the transport of hazardous materials
  • Deliver a variety of materials/loads
  • Employ industry-standard HAZMAT procedures
  • Operate necessary equipment (CB radio, truck cab computer, electronic log)
  • Unhook/hook converter dollies/trailers to/from a tractor-trailer
  • Communicate with other drivers, company dispatchers, customers, and safety departments
  • Accurately complete paperwork (record cargo information, service hours, fuel consumption, distance traveled, etc.)
  • Maintain a log book and complete bills of lading
  • Make sure receivers sign for deliveries

Unique aspects

Truck drivers need to be highly skilled and attentive as they operate specialized vehicles and often haul dangerous and/or flammable products. Loading/unloading a tank truck requires a unique skill set and runs the risk of spills and inhalation of hazardous materials. The pump used for this process needs constant care and maintenance. Class 1 drivers in Alberta must learn to shift with the movement of the product as liquid loads may move when starting, stopping, and changing gears. Some tankers have a high center of gravity, making them susceptible to crosswinds and tricky to haul. A washout of the tank is necessary after each load.

Advantages of Being a Class 1 Driver in Alberta

There are many types of truck driving jobs but being a Class 1 driver comes with unique advantages.

  • Higher pay: Alberta’s Class 1 drivers are generally paid more than reefer and/or van drivers as they are reimbursed for non-driving activities (unloading, loading, inspecting equipment, etc.). A salary typically increases with experience.
  • Benefits: Truck drivers generally receive a benefits plan (health, dental, paid holiday time, vision care, life insurance, RRSP, and/or savings plans). Some companies also offer perks (gym membership, relocation assistance, safety bonuses, driver recognition/appreciation, etc.)
  • Work-life balance: Many Class 1 drivers in Alberta have local and/or regional routes. This means shorter hauls, allowing more time to spend with family, relax, and/or pursue a hobby.
  • Work environment: Class 1 drivers work independently (with little or no supervision) allowing them to work around their individual needs (take breaks when needed, listen to music/podcasts, etc.).
  • Short unload/load times: It typically takes only fifteen to twenty minutes to unload a tanker and approximately 45 minutes to load. Sometimes customers/clients take care of the unloading/loading procedures.
  • Job security: Job security is often guaranteed if a driver drives safely and operates well (meets deadlines, maintains vehicle, and follows safety protocols).
  • Abundant opportunities: Given that tank drivers transport critical commodities such as oil, milk, alcohol, gasoline, molasses, juice, wine, water, liquid sugar, diesel, propane, various flammable/combustible liquids, chlorine, natural gas, carbon dioxide, other hazardous materials, and dry bulk materials like sand, gravel, and plastic/wood pellets, employment prospects in this field are typically plentiful. Drivers can easily find a wide range of job openings by searching online.

Skills, Qualities, Endorsements/Licenses of an Excellent Alberta’s Class 1 Driver

As well as requirements for specific licenses and endorsements, there are some common qualities and skills that make a good Class 1 driver.

  • A commercial driver’s license, proving the ability to operate a tanker truck responsibly.
  • A Hazmat endorsement that ensures a Class 1 driver has training in the safe transport of hazardous materials.
  • A tanker endorsement that allows a truck driver to operate a tanker truck.
  • Air brake training, demonstrating a trucker’s ability to quickly and smoothly slow/stop a tanker truck.
  • Doubles/triples endorsement, allowing a driver to operate a truck with two or three attached trailers.
  • Pre-trip inspection ability: Competence at performing pre-trip inspection (checking for adequate fluid levels, the condition of hoses, belts, wires, air compressor, gearbox, steering linkage, water pump, alternator, brakes, tires, coupling system, lights, reflectors, release/locking pins, emergency kit, etc.) ensuring equipment is in good working order and the truck is safe to operate.
  • Ability to couple/uncouple tanker trailers, efficiently and safely.
  • Proficiency in driving in many weather conditions to reduce danger and ensure delivery.
  • Ability to maneuver safely when transporting shifting liquid loads.
  • Customer service abilities: Able to clearly and courteously communicate with clients/customers.
  • Ability to work independently, keeping accurate records, and meeting deadlines.
  • Competence in attending to detail to ensure safety when transporting hazardous materials.
  • Technical knowledge is specific to tanker trucks.

What are the Challenges of Class 1 Drivers in Alberta?

Driving a tanker truck has all the same hazards as operating any large truck but has added unique challenges.

  • Risk of Exposure to Hazardous Chemicals: Tanker trucks frequently transport dangerous substances, some of which can cause burns upon contact. Caustic chemicals may harm a trucker’s eyes and lungs, while flammable or explosive materials pose serious risks during transport. Class 1 drivers face the possibility of exposure to these hazardous substances during accidents or challenges encountered while loading and unloading. To mitigate risks, wearing safety glasses, fire-resistant clothing, and sometimes respirators is often mandatory for Class 1 drivers when handling these loads.
  • Leakage Risks: Despite tanker trucks being designed with systems to prevent or minimize leaks, incidents of leakage can still occur, heightening the risk of accidents and potential exposure to dangerous chemicals for the driver and others.
  • Cargo Movement: Sloshing and shifting of the cargo can destabilize a truck, particularly on mountainous terrain or when executing sharp turns. This increases the risk of the vehicle overturning. Class 1 drivers need to maintain constant vigilance to control their vehicles effectively, especially during acceleration, braking, and lane changes.
  • Challenges with Underloaded or Improperly Loaded Trucks: Trucks that are not fully loaded or are loaded incorrectly present a higher risk of cargo shifting, which can endanger Class 1 drivers in Alberta and other provinces.
  • Stringent Safety Regulations: The nature of the materials being transported requires Class 1 drivers to adhere to strict safety regulations and protocols to ensure safe handling and transport.
  • Additional Stress Factors: Similar to their counterparts in other trucking sectors, Class 1 drivers face common stressors such as tight schedules, adverse weather conditions, construction delays, traffic congestion, long periods away from home, misdirections, etc. However, the stress is compounded by the added responsibility of carrying hazardous or flammable materials.

Career Path and Advancement Opportunities for Alberta’s Class 1 Drivers

  • Company drivers may work their way to supervisory positions, training roles, and/or truck maintenance duties.
  • Owner-operators may expand their businesses with more employees/trucks, consult with transportation companies, enter fuel refinery management, and/or undertake commercial vehicle maintenance.

Application and Training Process to Get a Job as a Class 1 Driver in Alberta

For those interested in becoming Alberta’s Class 1 driver, some basic steps will assist you in preparing for driving and finding a position.

  1. Research Class 1 driver duties and responsibilities to ensure you’re prepared and that this career is right for you.
  2. Undergo a medical examination to ensure you’re physically fit for the job of Class 1 driver in Alberta.
  3. Obtain a valid truck driver’s license: A Class 1 driver’s license is required. Obtain it through the motor vehicles branch. You must already have a class 5 or 6 license.
  4. Complete a Training course offered by an approved driver training school/institute.
    This course typically involves:
    a. theoretical learning
    b. air brake training
    c. practical training
    d. in-yard training
    e. on-highway driving
    f. commercial vehicle safety
  5. Obtain certification/endorsements (Air brake, transportation of dangerous goods, doubles-triples endorsement, tanker endorsement)
  6. Research the job market, gaining an understanding of the current need and locations for truck drivers.
  7. Prepare a resume: Include your endorsements, qualifications, experience, certifications, references, and driver abstract.
  8. View current opportunities Browse online job boards for postings (Job Bank Canada, Indeed Canada, Linkedin, Workopolis, Glassdoor, ZipRecruiter, WorkBC, WowJobs, SimplyHired, JobSora, Trovit, etc.). Check out industry-specific websites. Consult with recruitment agencies. Reach out to companies/businesses you’re interested in working with. Ask your professional network for advice and/or suggestions.
  9. Apply for jobs you’re interested in acquiring.
  10. Prepare for interviews: To improve the possibility of getting a position. Practice the most common questions asked, preparing to answer inquiries about your qualifications, personality, and experience.
    • Why do you want to become/why are you a Class 1 driver?
    • What skills do you think make a successful Class 1 driver?
    • What do you think are the greatest challenges of a Class 1 driver in Alberta?
    • What parts/aspect of the job appeals to you the most?
    • What are your career goals?
    • What are the critical safety concerns you have as a Class 1 driver?
    • How do you feel about the current economy/state of the trucking industry?
    • Have you ever had a vehicle accident?
    • How do you handle careless drivers when on the road?
    • How do you maintain your truck?
    • How do you deal with angry clients/customers?
    • How do you maintain alertness on a long haul?
    • How do you ensure that timelines are kept?
    • What skills do you possess that make you a good truck driver?
    • What is your greatest strength as a Class 1 driver?
    • What are Canada’s Hours-of-Service Regulations?
    • Why are they in place? Do you agree with these regulations?
    • Are you proficient with electronic logging devices?
    • Why do you want to work for this company?
    • How do you handle stress?
  11. Attend interviews when contacted.

Class 1 drivers are an integral cog in the system that keeps our economy moving and growing. The present shortage of truck drivers means an increasing number of Class 1 driver jobs in Alberta are available. Start your career as a Class 1 driver today with Northwest Tank Lines’ current opportunities.

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