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How To Become A HGV Driver

A Skill In High Demand In The UK

How To Become A HGV Driver

There’s currently a huge demand for qualified HGV Drivers. In fact in a recent FTA report; the logistics skills report, stated that the shortage of HGV drivers in the UK has climbed to 59,000 as 64% of transport and storage businesses now face severe skills shortages.

Included within this overall shortage, there’s also a shortage of women HGV Drivers. The haulage industry is vital to the economy, and so there’s a real opportunity for women to be involved in these operations, and contribute to this vital skill by gaining a driving job in what has historically been a male-dominated industry.

HGV (Heavy Goods Vehicle) Drivers, also known as large goods vehicle drivers (LGV), transport a range of freight between distributors, suppliers and customers.

They could drive large lorries, trucks, or other commercial vehicles (weighing over 7.5 tonnes), and their job involves everything from dropping off deliveries to large businesses and factories, to transporting food and fuel, and with ADR training hazardous materials.

Haulage and logistics is the fifth largest industry employment sector in the UK; this means there are plenty of opportunities out there for qualified HGV drivers. And generally speaking you can find companies based throughout the country, so the chances of you having to relocate to find work are pretty slim.

Driving a HGV vehicle could be an ideal job opportunity if you have been made redundant in another industry, or are looking to try something new.

So if this sounds like the career you’d like to pursue, just how do you become a HGV Driver?

What does a HGV Driver do?

While it can be difficult to generalise, most HGV Driver will be expected to:

  • Loading and unloading goods
  • Ensuring goods are safely secured
  • Picking up, and sticking to, delivery schedules
  • Planning routes – with fuel consumption and traffic considerations taken into play
  • Keeping the vehicle in good condition
  • Driving between destinations
  • Taking payments for deliveries and completing paperwork

What hours do HGV Drivers work?

Most drivers work for an average of 48 hours per week, drivers can’t spend more than nine hours per day on the road, although they can work more hours if they’re engaged in non-driving duties.

If you’re a long-distance driver you may have to sleep in your cab, commonly referred to as tramping, which will be equipped with a sleeping area so you can still get a "decent night’s kip".

What types of HGV driving job are there?

The HGV industry is a very large and varied industry with many requirements for different types of jobs. The types of job can include:

  • Multi drop
  • Single Drop
  • Long Haul
  • Short Haul
  • Night driving

These may require different types of vehicle to be used and require drivers to work different shift patterns – days, nights or for extended periods away from home.

What skills do HGV Drivers need to have?

  • Knowledge of transport methods, costs and benefits
  • General level of physical fitness, coordination, and strength
  • Clear vision, and good eyesight
  • Patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
  • Able to pay attention to detail
  • An in-depth understanding of road safety
  • Good customer service skills
  • Ability to work well under pressure
  • Adept at operating and controlling additional equipment
  • Able to carry out basic tasks on a PDAs and hand-held computer devices

What qualifications do HGV Drivers require?

You don’t need a degree to jump on this career path. To become an HGV Driver, you need to be 18 or over and hold a full car driving licence. Then you can start training with a Certificate of Professional Competence (Driver CPC) which is required for the role.

  1. Must have an LGV / HGV Licence
  2. Driver CPC
  3. Often require a Driver Digital Tachograph Card (Digi Card)
  4. Possibly Pump Truck Experience

There are also opportunities to get into this career by way of an intermediate (Level 2) apprenticeship as a large goods vehicle driver.

What types of HGV Licence are there?

There are different kinds of licences, depending which one a driver holds this will determine the types of vehicle they can drive:

  • Class 1 - Also known as category C + E, a class 1 licence allows you to drive a vehicle that is 7.5 tonnes or more and has a trailer that detaches. These types of vehicles are generally larger in size and often used for long haul routes.
  • Class 2 / Cat C - Class 2 or category C licences, are required for vehicles which are over 7.5 tonnes that have a rigid body base and if the cab does not separate from the trailer, such as fire engines or refuse collection vehicles. These types of trailers are usually used around towns and cities rather than long haul.
  • Cat C1 - A cat C1 licence is required if your vehicle is over 3.5 tonnes but below 7.5 tonnes. You will automatically gain this type of licence if you passed your driving licence before 1997. Anyone who passed after this time will need to undergo another test.
  • Cat C1 + E - A Cat C1 + E licence is needed is similar to the Cat C1 but allows you to also tow a trailer behind the vehicle too.
  • Additional

  • Lorry Loader / Hiab - Lorry loader or Hiab training allows you to operate a lorry loader. This is a piece of machinery that utilises hydraulic attachments that deposit items onto the long bed at the rear of the trailer. This type of training enables you to properly operate attachments such as lorry loaders and truck mounted cranes.
  • ADR - ADR or Accord Dangeroux Routier is a qualification for those transporting dangerous goods, this is usually required for those driving fuel tankers or drivers carrying flammable liquids or corrosives. It teaches drivers the hazards that come with transporting dangerous goods.

This need to hold an appropriate licence will determine the types of jobs HGV drivers are able to do and coupled with the fact that drivers may have a preference over the type of hours and shifts that they work, the industry requires a range of different drivers to fulfil all of its transportation needs.

How much does a HGV Driver earn?

HGV Drivers earn from £18,500 to £35,000 per year working around 37 to 42 hours per week as a guide. Overtime may be available.

Your salary will depend on your experience:

  • Newly qualified drivers earning between £18,500 and £22,000
  • Experienced drivers earning £23,000 to £28,000
  • Highly experienced drivers earning between £27,000 and £35,000
  • ADR / Specialist drivers can earn £40,000+

Is it the right job for me?

Apart from considering the need to have excellent driving skills, it also takes a good level of patience, a cool calm mind under pressure, and dedication in order to become a HGV Driver.

For the vast majority of the time you’ll be working independently , often driving for long periods of time between drop-offs – so if you’re someone who enjoys their own company and can maintain their concentration levels for prolonged periods of time, then this might just be the right role for you.

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