How to become an HGV driver: a stable and rewarding career

HGV drivers are the mainstay of the road haulage system. This has long been regarded as a stable career choice with plenty of options and good job progression. We look at what the job entails and how to become an HGV driver.

Responsible for transporting goods between distributors, suppliers and customers, a heavy goods vehicle driver (HGV driver) could be driving a large lorry, truck or other commercial vehicle. And it seems that it is a career that is in demand these days, with the Road Haulage Association claiming that the industry is in need of a staggering 60,000 drivers. With an ageing workforce, it is believed the situation will only get worse with fewer trained lorry drivers able to fill roles in the future.

Given this latest information, now is the perfect time to consider a career in the industry, but how to become an HGV driver? Well, all you need is to prove that you’re over 18 years old and have a driving license, as well as a Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC). Some companies will also ask candidates to take part in a form of apprenticeship before they start working for them.

What is a Drivers CPC?

The Driver Certificate of Professional Competence driver CPC is a professional qualification under a European Union Directive, which allows an individual to drive a bus, coach and lorry of over 3.5 tonnes and minibuses with 9 seats or more. New drivers must pass a number of tests, both theory and practical, and then complete 35-hours of training every half decade in order to keep the qualification valid.

What do HGV drivers do?

  • Plan delivery routes

  • Coordinate deliveries and communicate with dispatchers and customers

  • Load and unload goods

  • Drive between destinations

  • Vehicle maintenance

  • Filing paperwork and taking payments

How to become an HGV driver?

Once you’ve completed your CPC training, you’ll be able to get started. You’ll need to be a good driver, with a solid understanding of road safety and the ability to drive in all weather conditions. The ability to focus is also a must with this job, as you’ll be on the road for long hours with nobody to talk to. Good interpersonal skills will also come in handy as you’ll be dealing with distributors and customers on a regular basis.

After you’ve gained some experience HGV driving you’ll be able to progress up the career path. With additional HGV training, you can gain an Advisory Dangerous Goods by Road (ADR) Certificate. With one of these, you’ll be able to drive vehicles that transport hazardous materials such as a tanker.

Once established, drivers can move onto positions that pay higher salaries such as a Large Goods Vehicle (LGV) instructor, become a Freight Transport planner, or even move into the management side of the industry.

Typical salaries

Working up to 48 hours a week, an HGV driver can expect to earn anything from £18,500 to £35,000 per year, with overtime often available. The industry is highly regulated, however, so a driver can expect their working hours to be determined by daily driving times and plenty of legally required breaks.

Positive aspects of the job

As with anything, there are a few downsides. The job can have unsocial working hours and is very solitary. Drivers also have to deal with hazardous weather conditions from time to time – in addition to other road users!

That said, the ability to get a stable and well-paid job with relative ease once you’ve proved yourself is one of the main benefits of being an HGV driver. However, there are other positives including the opportunity to travel, a sense of community within the industry, quick career progression and no need for a university education.