If you’re thinking about becoming a truck driver in Ontario, you’ll need to acquire your Class AZ license first. While this can be expensive, there are several ways to qualify for funding. In fact, you can find government funding for an AZ license in Ontario.
Getting a license to drive a truck can be a good career move, especially for recent immigrants with no formal education or training. Canadian truck drivers can make a decent living transporting goods to different regions. For instance, in Ontario, the average salary for a trucker is just under $49,000 a year or $17.00 – $32.24 an hour.
What Is An AZ License In Ontario?
The AZ is a special class of driver’s license that lets qualified Ontario drivers operate:
- Straight trucks (26 feet) or tractor-trailers (53 feet)
- Towed vehicles with total gross weights over 4,600 kg (10,000 lbs)
- Towed vehicles with air brakes
- Tractors that pull double trailers (B-trains)
If you don’t qualify for the Z-endorsement with your Class A license, you can only drive:
- Class G vehicles (cars or trucks)
- Heavy Trucks (in Class D)
- Class A vehicles (including trailers) that do not have air brakes
Most Class AZ drivers in Ontario operate tractor-trailers locally or over long distances (long-haul trucking).
Can I Drive A Bus With An AZ License?
Before you apply, it’s important to know that a Class AZ license does not allow you to drive passenger buses. If that’s your goal, you must first obtain a Class B, Class E, or Class F license, based on the passenger capacity of the bus you wish to operate.
How Much Does It Cost To Get An AZ License?
It can cost about $10,000 to get a Class AZ license in Ontario. Here’s a list of the fees you generally have to pay (not including any necessary travel):
- Air Brakes Knowledge Test = $16.00
- Official MTO (Ministry of Transportation) Truck Handbook = $20.00
- Official MTO Air Brake Handbook = $20.00
- 5-Year License = $90.00
- Class A Knowledge Test and Road Test = $122.75 (includes air brakes practical)
- Medical Exam = $50.00 – $150.00 (depends on your medical practitioner)
- MELT (Mandatory Entry Level Training) Course = $5,000 – $10,000
Can You Get Government Funding For An AZ License In Ontario?
As you can see, it can be expensive to get your Class AZ license in Ontario. Luckily, there are ways to get government or private funding to cover those costs, including:
Use The Ontario Jobs Training Tax Credit: Government Funding For An AZ License In Ontario
The Ontario Jobs Training Tax Credit is a temporary, refundable personal income tax credit that helps qualified labourers cover the cost of any training they need to:
- Change their career path
- Enhance their skills or knowledge
- Get re-trained in a particular skill or field
If you qualify for this credit, you can get up to $2,000 per year in financial relief for 50% of your eligible expenses from the past two tax years.
Apply For The Canada Training Credit: Government Funding For An AZ License In Ontario
The Canada Training Credit is a new refundable credit that helps cover eligible tuition and other fees that you paid for courses you took last year and subsequent tax years. Each year (starting in 2019), you will accumulate $250 towards your Canada Training Credit, to a maximum of $5,000, as long as you pass certain requirements.
To claim the Canada Training Credit for a tax year, you must meet specific conditions as well (which are the same as those required for the Ontario Jobs Training Tax Credit):
- File an income tax return for the year
- Be a resident of Canada (or Ontario for the OJTTC) throughout the tax year
- Have a positive Canada Training Credit limit for the year
- Be over the age of 26 and under the age of 65 at the end of the tax year
- Pay tuition or fees to an eligible educational facility during the year
- Those costs are otherwise eligible for the existing tuition tax credit
Qualify For The OSAP At Humber College: Government Funding For An AZ License In Ontario
At Humber College, you can take a class called The Commercial Driver Training Class G to AZ Tractor Trailer Program. The program allows you to earn your Ontario AZ license and takes 7 weeks to complete.
Since the program is considered a micro-credential, it is eligible for the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP). However, applications for OSAP Micro-Credential assistance are not allowed to overlap with another micro-credential study period. Do note, you must pay the fees in full. You’ll later be reimbursed the fees through OSAP if you qualify.
If you qualify for OSAP funding, the money will be deposited directly into your personal bank account. It’s capped at $5,000 per learner, with an additional $5 per study contract hour. To be eligible for an OSAP Micro-Credential, you must meet specific criteria, like:
- Be registered for an OSAP-approved micro-credential
- Be an Ontario resident (as defined by the OSAP)
- Any previous OSAP loans must be in good standing
Get A Windmill Loan: Government Funding For An AZ License In Ontario
Windmill Microlending was founded in 2005. It is a national charity in Canada that offers affordable micro-loans to skilled immigrants and refugees. Their loans range up to $15,000 and are meant to help eligible new Canadians cover the costs of accreditation, training, and career development. Windmill also offers services like:
- Client success coaching
- Mentorship programs
- Financial planning and budgeting tools
- Career development resources
So, if you’ve recently become a Canadian resident and need some help paying for your Class AZ license in Ontario, a Windmill microloan could help you finance it.
Alternatives To Government Funding For An AZ License In Ontario
If you don’t qualify for any of the credits above, you can use a personal loan to spread the cost of your AZ license out over several months. Personal loans are available from banks, credit unions, and alternative lenders. To qualify for the best interest rates and terms, you must have a good credit score, a decent income, and a low debt (or debt-to-income ratio).
If you’re a newcomer with no credit history but a stable income, you can still qualify for a loan through an alternative lender. Just remember that these lenders often have higher rates than Big Banks like TD. If you want to get the best rate, try improving your finances and credit score. You can use a secured credit card to help build your credit and use Compare Hub to track your credit score progress for free.
What Kind Of Jobs Can You Get As An AZ License Holder?
Once you have your Class AZ License, there are many different jobs you can qualify for in Ontario and the rest of Canada. Some of the more common truck driver jobs are:
- Delivery Driver – A driver that transports goods and other cargo to specific destinations, such as retail stores, warehouses, and food or beverage sellers.
- Owner-Operator – A driver that owns and operates a personal truck, then signs contracts with various companies and clients to transport cargo for them.
- Local Truck Driver – A driver that usually transports goods within a specific region (Ontario in this case) and is able to return home at the end of each day.
- Long-Haul Truck Driver – A driver that transports freight between provinces or across Canada, which may keep them on the road for days or weeks at a time.
How To Get A Class AZ License
In order to obtain your full Class AZ license in Ontario (with no restrictions), you must:
- Be at least 18 years of age
- Have a valid Ontario driver’s license (other than G1, G2, M, M1, or M2)
- Present a valid medical report
- Finish a mandatory entry-level training course
- Pass a vision test
- Pass a knowledge test about operating tractor-trailers and large trucks
- Pass a road test using a vehicle that meets the criteria for a full Class A license
To complete your road test, you must be driving a vehicle that has a:
- Trailer with a Manufacturer’s Gross Vehicle Weight Rating of at least 4,600 kg
- Manual transmission consisting of at least 8 forward gears with a high-tow range
- Full brake air system on both the truck/tractor and trailer
If your vehicle does not meet the requirements for a full Class AZ license, you can:
- Reschedule your road test (in exchange for an additional fee)
- Take your road test, knowing that you will receive a restricted Class A license (condition R) or a Class A manual transmission restriction (not a full Class A)
Thinking About Becoming A Truck Driver In Ontario?
Make sure to factor the associated costs into your budget and look into all the different ways you can finance them. It could be a while before you get your Class AZ License and find the right job. Talk to the Ministry of Transportation to learn some of the ways you can obtain government funding for your AZ License in Ontario.
Government Funding For An AZ License In Ontario FAQs
How much income can you make a year as a truck driver in Ontario?
- Low = $17.00/hour
- Median = $24.00/hour
- High = $32.24/hour
What kinds of trucks can I operate with an AZ license?
- Any truck and/or tractor-trailer combination
- A vehicle towing double trailers
- A car or light truck covered by a Class G license
- A heavy truck covered by a Class D truck license
- Any vehicle covered under a restricted (condition R) Class A truck license
- A combination of motor vehicles and towed vehicles, where the towed vehicles have air brakes and exceed a total gross weight of 4,600 kg (10,000 lbs)
Can I pay my license fees with a credit card?
- Credit Card (Visa, Mastercard or American Express)
- Debit Card
- Certified Business Cheque
- Certified Personal Cheque
- Travelers Cheque (Canadian or American)
- Bank Draft or Money Order (payable to Serco Canada Inc.)