How to become an HGV Driver

There’s currently a huge demand for qualified HGV Drivers. Last year, The Guardian reported that the Road Haulage Association says it’s short of 60,000 drivers, with an ageing workforce expected to shed another 40,000 drivers by next year.

The fear is that as the workforce retires, there won’t be enough trained drivers coming in to replace them. Industry insiders believe the UK could struggle if more people don’t become truck drivers. The 2017 FTA Skills Shortage Report continues to reflect this shortage.

Included in the general shortage, there’s also a shortage of female 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, contributing vital skills to a male-dominant industry.

With this industry trend, now’s the ideal time to consider a career in HGV driving. This role also provides a skill set that you can take in many directions in the future, with opportunities for career progression.

Read on to learn how to become an HGV Driver and kick-start your driving career.

What does an HGV Driver do?

An HGV Driver earns a living driving a truck and transporting goods to different locations. They typically go to and from retail and distributions centres or manufacturing plants. It’s worth noting that the hours can be long and antisocial.

An HGV Driver should have some basic maintenance and repair skills so that they can make sure the vehicle is safe and that the need to change a tyre won’t delay a job. The company that employs the HGV Driver usually has roadside assistance that can be dispatched immediately to them in this instance.

Browse all HGV driver jobs on our website

What do HGV Drivers typically 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

How do I get started as an HGV Driver?

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.

What key skills do I need to become an HGV Driver?

Most importantly, you have to be a good driver. You also need to be able to focus well as you will be on the road for long periods of time during the day and night without colleagues to keep you company.

In addition, you need a good understanding of road safety and how to pack and unload your HGV safely.

Good people skills are a must, too, as you may have to deal with customers. Finally, you need to be able to complete any necessary paperwork precisely.

What do HGV Drivers do day-to-day?

HGV Drivers drive vehicles over 7.5 tonnes, transporting goods to and from distribution centres, depots and warehouses.

Like any job, there are different types of roles, and all have a slightly different daily routine. For example, a city-driving role would suit a person who doesn’t mind sitting in traffic for long periods. Local and regional driving jobs would be perfect for anyone who doesn’t want to work far from home and wants to work more sociable hours.

If you want to travel, there are opportunities for long-distance HGV Drivers to work around Europe delivering goods overseas.

In addition to driving, you’ll also be responsible for the planning your route, supervising the loading and unloading of your truck, making sure everything is stowed safely and completing paperwork. Bad weather conditions, roadworks, traffic accidents and road closures can add to the unpredictable nature of the job day-to-day.

What career progression is available?

You could apply to become an LGV instructor if you have been a qualified LGV driver for at least three years.

Wincanton depot backs a non-profit organisation called Driver First Assist which uses drivers who have been trained to manage the scene at road traffic collisions. The drivers then become “first responders”.

Wincanton train HGV drivers to deliver lifesaving first aid at the scene, equipping them with the skills required to respond in the crucial moments following a crash. This means that lives can be saved before the emergency services have arrived on the scene. This adds additional responsibility and job satisfaction to this career.

As you grow in experience as an HGV Driver, you can look to become a Dangerous Goods Safety Advisor. The Freight Transport Association and Road Haulage Association give Certificate of Professional Competence training for those drivers who want to move up into transport management.

With experience, you can also train to become a Freight Transport planner, move into management or even set up your own fleet.

What are the best bits about being an HGV Driver?

For some, HGV driving can be a fantastic way to work and live, but you have to enjoy the lifestyle of living on the road. There’s a great sense of community and support amongst the drivers, and there are numerous industry award ceremonies which reward the best HGV Drivers of the year and spot new talent within the logistics field.

There are many other benefits of being a truck driver, including:

  • Job security
  • The opportunity to travel
  • A good salary
  • A high demand for drivers
  • No need for a degree
  • Initiatives to recruit more women

What are the challenges of being an HGV Driver?

HGV Drivers are only paid for their driving hours, and they can be away from home for long periods of time. Apart from the military, there are not many other jobs that require being away from family and friends on such a regular basis.

Although the HGV driving career has its challenges, the positive gains in getting to travel and benefitting from a secure job that is in high demand even in unpredictable economic times can overshadow the negatives.

HGV driving may be the ideal career for you if:

  • You want to earn a good salary without having to have a degree
  • You’re attracted to the lifestyle
  • You don’t mind long periods on your own
  • You enjoy following a different routine from the norm

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