As a lorry driver, you’ll transport and deliver goods between suppliers and customers, playing a vital role in keeping shelves stocked, and ensuring the UK population is fed and fuelled. You’ll also travel across the country or possibly further afield and get to enjoy the scenery along the way too.
There are different working patterns on offer – some jobs require drivers to be away and stay overnight in their vehicle, others involve a day shift meaning drivers can return home each day. There are a variety of shifts available, so there’s a role to suit you. Companies are actively recruiting people from a wide range of backgrounds and ages.
An entry level Heavy Goods Vehicle (HGV) driver can expect to start on up to £24,000 a year. However, the average wage of a UK HGV driver is £32,000, which is higher than the UK average and it’s rising, with some road haulage roles now paying over £46,000 per year.
Not all haulage is driving long distance over many miles. If you enjoy driving but prefer to stay closer to home, becoming a local delivery driver or refuse collection driver are family-friendly options. Read Leanne’s story to find out how she made her move from hospitality to a HGV2 driver, a role she fits around looking after four children.
There is much more to HGV driving than sitting behind a wheel. HGV drivers have a range of responsibilities, from planning their routes and taking inventory, to physically demanding activities such unloading and loading their vehicles. Drivers look after themselves by staying active.
What skills and qualifications will I need?
You don’t necessarily need specific qualifications to get started, and you may have gained the required skills from another job you’ve done.
Employers look for the following:
- good attention to detail
- physical skills like coordination and dexterity
- strong customer service skills
- the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
- the ability to work well under pressure
- strong teamwork skills
- the ability to operate and control equipment
- to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held devices
- an excellent standard of driving skills, and awareness.
Getting a licence
In order to become an HGV driver in the UK of any class, you’ll need to hold the right full or provisional licence for the type of vehicle you want to drive.
If you don’t have one, getting a full licence usually involves two theory tests, lots of training, two practical tests and sometimes a medical exam. After this you will be required to take 35 hours of additional training every 5 years.
If you have a normal car licence (known as category B), then you can usually already drive vehicles up to 3500kg. That could be suitable for driving a small van as a delivery driver for example.
If you want to drive vehicles over 3500kg (like a lorry or larger van), then you’ll need a licence from Category C – there are four types:
- Category C1 lets you drive larger vehicles between 3,500 and 7,500kg
- Category C1+E upgrade lets you carry heavier trailers. You can drive C1 category vehicles with a trailer over 750kg
- Category C lets you drive heavier loads/vehicles over 3,500kg
- Category C+E upgrade lets you pull heavier trailers. You can drive category C vehicles with a trailer over 750kg.
You’ll usually also need a Driver Certificate of Professional Competence. Find information about licences and certificates on the gov.uk website.
How to get started
Find training providers in your region by searching online or checking the list on the Joint Approvals Unit for Periodic Training website. The Road to Logistics website also helps support people into a career in the industry.
The Government is committing up to £34 million to help up to 11,000 learners gain HGV driving qualifications through the Skills Bootcamps provision Skills Bootcamps – Skills for Life (campaign.gov.uk). These free courses will provide short, intensive training so learners can become road ready within 16 weeks, with a real jobs available at the end.
You can also sometimes get into a road haulage driving role through an apprenticeship.
Depending on the type of licence you need, courses can last between 1 and 3 weeks, and cover areas including driving skills, basic mechanics, and loading and securing loads. The test includes vehicle safety questions, manoeuvres like reversing into a loading bay, 25 miles of road driving and a theory test based on the Highway Code and regulations.
It’s recommended that you compare a number of different providers to make sure they offer everything you need.