Truck delivery is a growing business in Australia. Being one of the most sparsely-inhabited countries in the world and having such vast distances between population centres, truck transport is a necessity to maintain the country’s economy.
Australia’s dependence on freight levels is high compared to most countries. This is due to the surprisingly low numbers of railways compared to road networks in the country. While there are around 800,000 km of road networks criss-crossing the country, there are only 44,000 km of railways.
The trucking and freight industry’s annual cargo transports an average of 1.5 million tonnes over Australia’s road networks. Freight and trucking services are necessary for the transportation of 80% of all non-bulk cargo in Australia. Non- bulk cargo refers to all kinds of freight that is delivered, generally in packages. Another term for this is commodity cargo. It’s the lifeblood of most industries, making such service a lucrative business in the country.
Truck driver salary
As at mid-2018, the average salary for a full-time truck driver in Australia is $82,472 per annum, or $1,586 per week.
Depending on the type of vehicle, hourly wages range between $24 and $35 per hour, while annual salaries range between $40k and $90k.
This places truck driving as one of the highest-paying blue-collar jobs in Australia.
For a closer look at the different salaries available for various truck-driving jobs, see Living in Australia – Truck Driver Salary.
How to become a truck driver
A high-school diploma is enough to secure a truck driving position. The ability to read, write and understand instructions and road signs are essential for a driver.
There are 5 different classes of heavy vehicle licence. You have to obtain these in order – each licence is a prerequisite for the next.
Heavy vehicle licence classes
LR-Class or Light-Rigid
A licence required to drive a vehicle with a gross vehicle mass of over 4.5 tonnes and up to 8 tonnes, or a vehicle that carries more than 12 passengers (that weighs up to 8 tonnes).
The prerequisite for this licence is holding a C-class licence (a licence to drive a car) for one year.
MR-Class or Medium-Rigid
A licence required to drive a vehicle weighing over 8 tonnes, with two axles.
The prerequisite for this licence is holding a C-Class or LR-Class licence for one year.
HR-Class or Heavy-Rigid
A licence required to drive a vehicle over 8 tonnes, with three or more axles.
The prerequisite for this licence is holding a C-Class licence for two years or holding an LR-Class or MR-Class licence for one year.
HC-Class or Heavy-Combination
A licence required to drive a vehicle over 9 tonnes, with an attached trailer or cargo hold and three or more axles.
The prerequisite for this licence is holding a C-Class licence for three years and holding an MR-Class or HR-Class licence for one year.
MC-Class or Multi-Combination
A licence required to drive B-doubles, prime movers and road trains.
The prerequisite for this licence is holding a C-Class licence for three years and an HR-Class and HC-Class licences for one year.
Additional requirements – Registered Training Organisations
In order to obtain an HR-Class or HC-Class licence, you will have to complete a Heavy Vehicle Competency Based Assessment (HVCBA) with a Registered Training Organisation (i.e. a truck driving school).
While many organisations offer truck driving training, one of the most highly-regarded truck driving schools is Chris Shilling Transport Training.
In most truck driving courses, the curriculum covers:
- safe driving principles
- insight into the biomechanics of driving
- proper steering techniques
- defensive driving techniques
- driving techniques during hazardous situations
- proper maintenance and safety procedures.
Subjects may vary from school to school.
Apply for a licence
In New South Wales, heavy vehicle licences are issued by Roads & Maritime Services.
You will have to visit a licensing centre in person to confirm your identity, pass an eyesight exam and to test your theoretical driving knowledge.
You will also have to undergo a practical exam where you will be tested on your truck handling skills. In New South Wales, a third-party assessor or an accredited driving school can perform the assessment and practical test in a licence application.
Once you have passed the necessary tests, you can register for a licence. The licence can come in paper form or as a traditional plastic licence card, which will be delivered to you.
With your licence, you are finally able to drive a truck and pursue a truck driving career in Australia.
The future of the trucking service in Australia
The trucking industry has become an integral part of the country’s economy as many businesses in major cities rely heavily on consistent and reliable freight and delivery services.
The trucking industry is expected to continue to grow as Australia increases its economic production over the next 10 years. Advances in engine design, vehicle manufacturing and computers will significantly increase the efficiency of truck drivers in the country. According to studies of the performance of road freight services, if the current economy continues, the trucking industry will double in size by 2020, when compared with its size in 2004. While they may fall victim to outdated stereotypes, truck drivers are among the most essential blue-collar workers in Australia. Thousands of businesses rely on the reliability of these skilled workers, who – with their specialised talents – carry the booming economy on their shoulders.