Some jobs capture the imagination. Since you’ve never considered what some people do for a living, jobs like an ice road trucker seem strange at first, until you feel the salary. Let’s take a moment to learn about ice road trucker salary, benefits, and how to become an ice road trucker in detail.
Ice road trucker
Winter is the time of year when ice road truckers do most of their work. Canada and Alaska experience freezing ponds and lakes during the winter months. Due to the heavy snowfall and freezing temperatures, trucks can bring in goods by traveling on the frozen lakes. During the winter months, towns and cities rush to buy supplies while the weather is cold enough. Due to this need, there is a great demand for qualified individuals and a salary that matches.
What are the jobs of ice road truckers?
Winter months are the coldest times for ice road truckers who drive on ice roads to deliver supplies. Canada and Alaska are home to the bulk of all ice road trucking jobs, with the Northwest Territories, in particular, having the lion’s share of these jobs. As rivers and lakes freeze, ice roads form so that trucks can transport supplies to remote regions that are otherwise difficult to access. Those roads consist of ice.
Knowing that ice roads are made of ice, it is easy to understand how commercial truck drivers must drive over those treacherous ice roads. Despite that, these roads are not dangerous due to the possibility of breaking through ice. They are constantly groomed and maintained by the Department of Transportation, monitoring their thickness. Steep roads, sheer cliffs, and frigid weather pose the most significant dangers.
How to become an ice road trucker?
Having a commercial driver’s license (CDL) does not make you eligible to become an ice road trucker. Obtaining a spotless driving record requires skill, experience, special training, and specialized training. Each company that hires drivers for ice roads has its requirements, so be sure to look at the company you are interested in working for to see what they require.
They prefer to hire Canadians because the work is performed in Canada, so the employment laws and taxes are more accessible for them. There’s no reason someone from another country can’t get the job; they need to get the correct work permits. Having experience is also essential when it comes to ice road trucking. It is not necessary to have expertise on ice roads, but living in an icy and cold climate will be helpful. If you’ve worked only in tropical zones or places where there is a mere dusting of snow every year, you’re not going to have the chops necessary to make it in this field.
Also, how well you are known in the ice road trucker community can work either for or against you. This is one of those jobs done by a select few individuals who, most often, know each other. This job will be much more likely to be won if you have a referral from another ice road driver.
Ice Road Truckers salary
Let’s talk about the question that everyone wants to be answered, how much do ice road truckers make. In reality, the average ice road trucker makes about $40,000. However, you may hear trucking professionals claim they make between $20,000 and $80,000. Upon first glance, that doesn’t sound like much, but remember that they are only working for about three months. The best time to construct ice roads is sometime in January or March.
Essentially, that means they can earn a whole year’s salary in just three months. In the off months, they can do other types of trucking and earn double the salary. It is estimated that the average pay for truckers who service these remote areas during the ice trucking season is $2,000 per roundtrip run. Each trucking company has its pay structure and pay scale. A single run usually involves driving for over 20 hours straight. You are operating continuously, but the Canadian Hours of Service only allow you to move for 15 hours at a time, so you will need to schedule your trips around rest camps.
The benefits of ice road trucking
There are some apparent benefits to ice road trucking. Pay is usually the most frequently discussed one. The payment is reasonable considering the season lasts only a few weeks. If you worked only three months of the year, you could earn all your salary for the entire year. Another advantage to working only three months a year is that it’s a short season. During the first three months, you work non-stop on the ice, then you head to a tropical paradise to enjoy the remainder of the year. You can take up a new job or whatever you want to do with that extra time.
There’s also a little bit of adrenaline involved for some truckers. Those who thrive on danger and have difficulty doing jobs that most people don’t love will enjoy being an ice road trucker. TV shows like Ice Road Truckers are compelling and famous for a reason. Job training often comes with the job, and we shouldn’t overlook this. Your and your family’s safety should be your top priority, so a company willing to provide regular and quality training is vital.
An additional benefit of the ice trucking season is the low out-of-pocket expenses. The employer will pay for your lodging and often meals at camps set up along the route. Their costs on the road include fuel, truck maintenance, and other expenses. If someone wants to get into the business or look to advance, a high turnover position can benefit them. That is a downside, as the job can be too stressful to sustain for a lifetime.
Can a truck driver be rich?
Yes, a truck driver can become rich. While it may not be a profession typically associated with wealth, truck drivers have many opportunities to increase their earnings and accumulate wealth over time.
One way for truck drivers to increase their income is to specialize in high-paying niches within the industry, such as hauling hazardous materials or oversize loads. These specialized skills often require additional training and certifications, but can result in significantly higher pay. Additionally, some truck drivers become owner-operators, purchasing and managing their trucks and taking on additional responsibilities for managing their own business. This can lead to greater financial autonomy and potentially higher earnings.