First of all, in Alberta, you can’t get a class 3 license until you have held your class 7 for one year, then driven with your class 5 GDL (graduated driver license) for 2 years. Then you take an “exit ” exam to clear the GDL off your class 5. Once you finish doing that, then your Class 5 becomes your learner license in Alberta for all other classes of license, even motorbikes. You can’t upgrade to 4,3,2, or 1 until you clear off the GDL.
The funny diversion is you don’t even need to upgrade from class 5 to make some serious cash driving in the oilfield. There are a number of service jobs, and delivery services that work some crazy hours and miles on a class 5. Class 5 drivers are often driving vehicles capable of grossing out at 17,000 kg in a f450 and a gooseneck trailer. I hope they are careful drivers, because that kind of weight can be difficult to stop with electric brakes on the trailer, and could easily push beyond the braking capability of the truck. That’s why some provinces have the restriction that the trailer weight can’t be too heavy for the truck pulling it. As long as you only have a two axle vehicle pulling a trailer with no air brakes, you will only need a class 5 license in Alberta. If you were a Saskatchewan resident, you would need a class one for pulling the heavy trailers. BC residents need an extra endorsement for pulling heavy trailers or recreational fifth wheels.
A class 4 driver’s license is for commercial people carrying functions, like taxis, limos, small buses (max 24 passenger), driver instruction. It requires a medical examination to apply for a class 4.
A class 3 license is for driving a property carrying truck with 3 axles. Typically they have Air Brakes, so the driver will have to have a Q endorsement to drive these trucks. They may pull a trailer without Air Brakes. Once the trailer involves air brakes, then the driver needs a class one with air brake training and a medical examination. A mechanic might have a class 3 license so he can test drive a bobtail tractor. Every class of license involves a written exam that most of us would fail if we don’t prepare properly for the exam.
Class 2 is for driving the big buses. It requires a medical and air brakes, and is good for for driving the class 3 trucks and the ambulance (class 4), and the big buses and coaches. Fireman often acquire this license so they can operate both ambulances and straight body trucks.
Currently there is no distinction whether you take your class 1 on an automatic or standard shift truck to acquire your Class 1 license. you simply need a tractor or a truck pulling an air brake equipped trailer to qualify for class 1. You must pass a written exam, a driver’s medical and air brake endorsement before you perform your road test for Class 1.
This is kind of different in North America than in Europe. The highest class of license that can operate just about everything except motorbikes is the class 1, the truck driving license. In Europe it is the Bus/coach driving license that is the higher class. I guess people are more important over there.