Want to drive for a living?

Want to drive for a living? Here’s how to drive a lorry

Do you want to earn your living driving? Learning how to drive a lorry isn’t as difficult as you might think and opens up a whole range of possibilities for a new career, from driving local goods vehicles to an articulated lorry.

Driving for a living isn’t for everyone but if you’re in good physical shape, love to drive and are self-motivated then the chances are you’ll enjoy hauling goods across the UK and even Europe.

What does a lorry driver do?

Do you enjoy route planning? Do you love maintaining your own car? Are you well organised and safety aware when you drive a car? You’ll need all these skills and more.

Driving commercial vehicles weighing 7.5 tonnes or more in all weather conditions you’ll be expected to do some or all of the following:

  • Work with transport managers on logistics and planning.
  • Help to ensure loads are secure, load and unload them.
  • Complete delivery paperwork and keep your log book up to date.

How to get qualified

You’ll need to meet the following criteria before you can start applying for jobs as a professional driver:

  • You must be over 18 and in possession of a full car driving licence.
  • You’ll need to apply for a provisional cat C driving licence.
  • You need to complete a driver CPC qualification.

Apply for a provisional licence

We’ll assume that you want to be able to drive an LGV or Large Goods Vehicle. For that, you’ll need a category C licence.

Most lorry drivers in the UK carry a cat C licence. This allows you to drive commercial good vehicles over 3.5 tonnes with a 750kg maximum authorised mass trailer. This licence lets you operate tippers, tankers and articulated lorries.

If you want to drive the really big rigs like construction vehicles, then you need the category CE licence. This lets you drive cat C vehicles with a 750kg trailer.

Now you’ve got your provisional licence it’s time to pass the 4 tests that make up the certificate of professional competence.

How to drive a lorry: get your CPC

To qualify as a lorry driver you’ll need to pass the 4 tests that make up the driver CPC and then take 35 hours of training every 5 years to keep up your qualification. The CPC was introduced to raise driving standards and improve road safety, and you can’t become a professional heavy goods vehicle driver without it.

Part 1 is a theory test that takes the same form as the car driver’s test. You’ll need to score 85 out of 100 for multiple choice and 65 out of 100 for hazard perception. The certificate is valid for 2 years and you must take part 3 of the CPC before it runs out or you’ll have to start again.

Part 2 involves working through case studies and answering multiple choice questions. You don’t need to have taken part 1 but you will need to have passed 2 before you can take part 4. The pass mark is 40 out of 50 and your pass letter is valid for 2 years.

Part 3 is the practical driving test. You’ll have to provide your own vehicle and demonstrate your driving skills on and off road including a controlled stop, moving away at an angle and an S shaped reverse. You’ll also be asked a series of road safety questions to demonstrate awareness of other road users.

Part 4 is a practical demonstration that you know how to check your vehicle, assess emergencies and load safely.

The CPC is a big commitment but you won’t be able to drive professionally without it – there’s a maximum fine of £1000 if you do. So if you want to change careers and learn how to drive a lorry safely and professionally, start studying for the CPC now.