Ice road trucking jobs in northern Canada are a specialist role which only a small segment of the trucker population will ever get to experience.
Due to the conditions and unique challenges drivers will face, positions pay more than the average job in the allotted time.
In spite of the many hardships IRTs face, the demand for these positions is high. The goal is to make as much money as possible during this short season.
There are a number of things you should keep in mind before pursuing a career in ice road trucking:
Firstly, you need to be certain you meet the basic qualifications to start your career. Secondly, you should ensure you understand risks, restrictions, regulations and the pay. Many are not cut out for ice road trucking, but if you think you have what it takes – here are some tips to help you get started.
In mid-winter, in the Canadian north, a group of truckers haul goods and suppliers to miners in the area on the frozen roads, between Yellowkniife NWT and the mines. Comprised of frozen tundra and lakes, these barren highways are lonely and dangerous.
Ice road trucking is seasonal, as one might expect – with roads only viable for two to three months of the year, weather dependant. Through these months, roads are well maintained and thoroughly patrolled by maintenance crews and enforcement.
The gold mines in the north require everything from fuel to quipment to food for crews. The most cost-efficient way to deliver these supplies is by truck. Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories acts as the distribution point for all goods moving north to the mines. Some equipment needed for gold mining operations are simply to big and heavy to fly in – these must be brought by truck.
Do you qualify to be an ice road trucker?
Before getting started on an ice road trucking career, you should consider if you qualify. Each company will have different requirements for drivers in terms of experience, training and driving records.
Only a small number of truckers that chase after jobs actually go on to secure a job.
It can be a tight community – with references or even knowing someone being highly useful in your application being accepted.
Job hazards of ice road trucking
Ice road truckers are trained to be prepared for any common issues they may encounter daily, without luxury of truck stops and roadside repair.
However, there are harsh realities to careers in ice road trucking. The high pay drivers receive is well deserved. The dangers truckers face include: severe weather, avalanches, road hazards, thin ice, truck failure, and much more.
Here are some facts to consider before sending in your application:
• Statistics show there is a 70% turnover for drivers
• Many new IRTs quit afer the first trip due to the challenges of the job.
• You will face average daily temperatures of around -38C
• Whiteouts, fractures in ice roads and accidents can also affect number of trips
• Average trip speed is only 15mph, this speed can make for a long and dreary day
• Forget about talking to friends – there is no mobile reception
• A breakdown could be deadly. Routes are extremely isolated, and you cannot leave your truck idling if there is a breakdown. Freezing temperatures could turn a simple breakdown into a life-threatening situation.
There are some other things that could give a potential ice road trucker, such as…
Marvin Robinson, CEO of Robinson Trucking, the largest operation of trucks on the ice roads comments on the dangers of trucks going through the ice “It’s not a matter of if, but a matter of when.”
Trucks DO break through the ice and drivers MAY go for a swim!
Are you looking for a challenge, or a chance to do something completely different in your truck driving career ten give ice road trucking a hard look before going head first. If you don’t mind extreme weather and dangers then ice road trucking may just be the job for you!