How to Become a Heavy Goods Vehicle (HGV) Driver

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You may pass dozens of lorry drivers on the motorway every day, but have you ever considered what it’s like to be one? If you enjoy being on the open road, are a safe driver and have good concentration skills, then a career as a HGV driver could be a great option.

What do they do?

Heavy Goods Vehicle (HGV) Drivers are responsible for transporting lorry-loads of goods between suppliers and customers. Some HGV Drivers travel long distances to transport goods, whilst others may work more locally. Whilst HGV drivers may spend a lot of time behind the wheel, there are also many other tasks that they carry out either side of each journey.

Responsibilities may include:

  • Planning routes to make sure that each one maximises productivity and efficiency. These include checking ahead to anticipate any traffic or delays and planning alternative routes where necessary. 
  • Interacting with suppliers and customers in a polite and pleasant manner when picking up and dropping off goods, to ensure all parties are satisfied with the service. This includes coordinating pick up and drop off times to make sure they suit everyone involved.
  • Making sure the lorry complies with safety regulations and is fit for purpose before going out on the road. Drivers will usually be responsible for organising any maintenance for the lorry.
  • Supervising the loading of goods to make sure that everything is loaded and unloaded safely and correctly. A driver may also be responsible for loading and unloading lorries themselves.
  • Making sure goods are secure before every journey. This is extremely important when working with heavy loads.
  • Filling in paperwork to keep a record of each delivery and the hours you spend behind the wheel.

What skills do I need?

how to become a lorry driver

The right person will have:

  • Excellent concentration skills, as you may be driving for hours at a time in all weather conditions.
  • Good communication skills, as you’ll be interacting with suppliers and customers when picking up and dropping off goods.
  • A calm and confident disposition behind the wheel.
  • Patience. It’s not uncommon for other drivers to become impatient with HGV drivers on the road because they tend to move at a slower speed and take up a lot of space. It’s important that you can remain patient and calm even when others are becoming impatient with you.
  • The ability to work independently because you’ll often be on the road for hours on your own.
  • A full car driving licence, which will allow you to develop your driving skills by undertaking the relevant HGV driving skills.

What will I love about the job?

open road lorry driving
  • Opportunities to travel to different parts of the country (if you’d prefer to work as a distance driver). Or the opportunity to build strong community links with customers and suppliers in a more local HGV driving role, if distance driving isn’t for you
  • The freedom of not being stuck in the same four walls – you’ll be constantly on the move.
  • Learning some new skills behind the wheel and upgrading your driving licence – so that you’re licenced to carry large loads.
  • Hours are often flexible.
  • If you love driving, then chances are you’ll enjoy spending periods of time out on the open road.

What are the challenges?

  • Concentrating for long periods of time. Travel time can vary, but some journeys can be several hours long.
  • Working alone. If you’re someone who enjoys the constant company of others and would rather work in a team than alone, you could find the long journeys alone quite challenging.
  • Manoeuvring a large vehicle can be tricky, and you will need to develop your driving skills, but you’ll be given all the relevant training to make sure that you’re safe and competent behind the wheel.
  • Shift work. You may be required to drive through the night, which can be tricky to balance with home life or if you aren’t a night owl. You may also be required to work evenings and/or weekends.

How much will I earn?

As an HGV Driver, you could earn anywhere between £23,000 and £37,000, with an average of around £30,000.

Are there opportunities to progress?

There are opportunities to undertake further training which could allow you to:

  • carry even larger loads.
  • transport toxic or hazardous goods by tanker.
  • become a HGV driving instructor.
  • work in freight management or logistics.

How do I get started?

lorry driver roles

As of September 2009, anyone who wishes to drive a lorry or van carrying 3.5T or more will need to complete a Driver’s Certificate of Professional Competence (Driver CPC licence) before going solo behind the wheel. This will prepare you to drive much larger vehicles which operate differently to cars e.g. they often have several sets of gears.

To achieve your Driver CPC licence, you’ll need to undertake some large vehicle training sessions (usually 35 hours worth) and a four-part test, which will require you to demonstrate your practical and theoretical knowledge to an examiner. Some companies will take you on without this and help you work towards it, whilst others will prefer you to have it before you apply.

Regardless of whether you already have a Driver CPC licence or not, you will always need to have a full UK car driving licence before you can get started with your HGV training. The good news is, as long as you’re a confident car driver, you should be able to get your licence in a matter of days or weeks. And although the training and tests come at a cost, you’ll only need to renew your licence once every five years, and you can’t put a price on safety.

Want to train before you apply?

If you’d like to get started with your Driver CPC training, the first thing you’ll need to do is order your HGV provisional licence so you can start your training, which you can do by filling out the D2 and D4 DVLA forms. The D4 form is to be filled out by your doctor and/or optician to prove that you are medically fit to be driving a large vehicle.

Once you’ve received your provisional licence, you’ll be able to begin your Driver CPC training. As with car driving schools, there are plenty of training providers available all over the country – but it’s important to shop around and find the best quality at the most reasonable price. If you’re unsure about quality, always make sure you read the reviews first before making a final decision.

Or are you ready to apply for a Heavy Goods Vehicle driving role right now?

We’re working with a select number of high quality, age diverse employers who are currently looking for safe, talented HGV drivers of all ages.

For example – we are currently working with Booker Group who are the UK’s leading food & drink wholesaler. They currently work with over 400,000 customers including independent convenience stores, grocers, pubs and restaurants. They are looking for Heavy Goods Vehicle drivers to help deliver for their customers, day in, day out – so you could be taking to the open road in no time! You can find out more about what it’s like to work for Booker Group here.

Darren talks about his experience as a Delivery Driver at Booker Group…

Video provided by Rest Less client, Booker Group.

Alternatively, if you’re interested in reading about and exploring other driving opportunities, you may find it useful to read our guide on driving roles that offer flexibility and freedom for further ideas and inspiration.

Have you recently changed career? Or are you looking to do something different? We’d love to hear your story at [email protected] or on the friendly Rest Less community forum.

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