Becoming a truck driver is a great career path. Perfect for anyone with a fondness for the open road, visiting countries and cities far and wide across the UK – or even abroad – whilst earning a handsome salary, a career is HGV haulage could be just for you.
Right now is a golden time to join the logistics industry as an HGV driver. There are opportunities abound for conscientious individuals looking for a prosperous career in a steadfast industry. Why? It’s estimated that the UK is currently 50,000 HGV drivers short of the optimal amount of HGV drivers.
Better still, the requirements for becoming an HGV driver aren’t overly strenuous. You don’t need to have a degree, nor do you need to endure year upon year of training. Provided that you have the valid UK driving licence and complete a period of training, a rewarding and lucrative career could be yours.
Interested in learning how to become a truck driver in the UK? We’ve got the lowdown for you. Keep reading below to discover everything that you need to know.
Is a Career as an HGV Driver for You?
As with any career decision, whether you want to become a lorry driver is something that requires a bit of thought. Weigh up the pros and cons. Sample what the career is like on a day-to-day basis. All of us a guilty of romanticising a career before we even take our first step along that path. Knowing what the reality is like will help you make up your mind.
Do your research online. This article is a great source of information for anyone thinking of hitting the highways as a truck driver! Ask experienced truck driving professionals what they think of their job and how they got started.
As with any career, there are aspects of the work that will appeal more to some than others. If you love to be behind the wheel and traverse the open road and are content in your own company, then a career as an HGV driver could be perfect for you.
There are obviously qualities that every successful truck driver in the UK will need to possess. The ability to concentrate for prolonged periods and patience on the roads are just some of the traits that will serve anyone considering becoming a truck driver well. So too is a meticulous nature for record-keeping and the ability to persistently meet deadlines. Adaptability is also a quality integral to a truck driver’s success – you never know when you’ll have to change your route due to unforeseen circumstances!
Above all else, the best truck drivers are confident on the road, possessing exemplary driving skills. They are punctual, reliable and friendly to all they encounter. If this sounds like you, then a career as an HGV driver could be just for you.
What is Life Like for Truck Drivers?
Working as a truck driver isn’t as simple as getting behind the wheel and setting off along the open highway. There’s more to it than you may first think. You’ll need to be able to make the right decisions, sometimes in seconds and keep abreast of weather patterns, navigating poor conditions.
Not only that, you’ll need to have comprehensive knowledge of the loads you’re carrying be confident in your geographical knowledge of the UK – and maybe across Europe. The career may, on the surface, seen somewhat repetitive, however, two journeys will ever be the same!
When you become an HGV driver it’s not unreasonable to assume that the likelihood that you’ll be away from your family for long periods may be quite high. This shouldn’t discourage anyone but if, for instance, you’re responsible for caring for small children or elderly members of the family, the career may not be ideal for you.
Also, working as a truck driver isn’t a clock-in at nine and clock-out at five, Monday-Fridayvocation. You may be asked to work unsociable hours or at weekends to make sure loads reach their destination. However, if you prefer a degree of flexibility to balance your professional and personal life, a career as a truck driver may well meet your aspirations.
Entry Requirements and Medical Exams
So, a career as an HGV driver is beginning to sound mighty appealing – great! But, how do you know if you’ll even qualify for an HGV licence? Here’s an outline of the basic requirements every driver must possess.
For starters, you need to be over 18 years of age and have a full, valid driving licence. You’ll also need to possess sound knowledge of English and Maths, have good eyesight and be physically fit. Ticks all these boxes and you will progress to the testing stage of the process.
Anyone hoping to become an HGV driver will need to pass the HGV Medical Exam and complete the accompanying D4 paperwork. The law requires HGV drivers to be in reasonably good health to legally operate commercial vehicles on public roads. A qualified physician will complete to D4 medical exam form as evidence of your physical fitness.
Each time your licence comes up for renewal, a new medical exam form will need to be submitted. Moreover, it’s important to know that a physician cannot pass you as medically cleared to drive an HGV. The DLVA makes this decision based on the information provided by the physician.
The HGV medical is comprised of two parts. The first part is an interview. This will include your medical history, focusing on any existing conditions that may inhibit your chances of becoming an HGV driver. Candidates are expected to be 100% honest and upfront in their answers.
The second part is the physical exam. The physician will check the candidate’s vital signs, including basic physical fitness and vision. This will take around 30 minutes. At this point, the physician will complete the D4 medical exam form.
The Different Types of HGV Licence
It might surprise you to learn that there are different types of HGV licence. Perhaps unsurprisingly though, the type of HGV licence is directly related to the weight of the vehicle. Want to become a lorry driver? Always consider the type of vehicle you’d like to drive. This will determine the applicable licence you’ll need to apply for.
Light goods vehicles with two axles will have a minimum gross weight of 3.5 tonnes. These range from large cars and caravans to smaller lorries and can weigh up to 7.5 tonnes. Large goods vehicles, with three rigid or artic axles or more, weigh between 25 and 44 tonnes. Vehicles of more than 3.5 tonnes require an HGV licence to operate.
Category C1: Medium-Sized Vehicles – You can drive vehicles, including Luton vans, cargo vans and lightbox trucks weighing between 3,500-7,500kg maximum authorised mass (MAM), with a trailer up to 750kg. This is considered the entry-level for attaining a commercial HGV licence.
Category C1E: Medium-Sized Vehicles with Trailers – You can drive vehicles, including Luton vans, cargo vans and lightbox trucks complete with a trailer weighing in excess of 750kg, provided your B class or C1 class vehicle has the towing capacity to do so. The combined MAM of both vehicles cannot exceed 12,000kg. This is applicable to anyone looking to drive vehicles with a large, heavy utility trailer.
Category C: Large Goods Vehicles – This is the most common class of HGV licence granted in the UK. This licence allows you to drive commercial vehicles weighing in excess of 3.5 tonnes (3,500kg) with a trailer weighing up to 750kg MAM.
Category CE: Large Goods Vehicles with Trailers – You are permitted to drive the largest and heaviest of vehicles, including heavy articulated lorries and construction equipment weighing in excess of 3,500kg with a trailer also weighing in excess of 750kg.
Every truck driver in the UK will have attained one of these licences. Most will hold a Category C licence, with a smaller percentage – often the most experienced of truck drivers – holding a Category CE licence.
Driver CPC Training
Before you race ahead and get the ball rolling with your application to become a lorry driver, there’s one final thing that you need to know – the CPC (Driver Certificate of Professional Competence.) This qualification aims to improve road safety and maintain high standards of driving and is applicable to all lorry, coach and bus drivers on the continent.
Under a directive from the European Union, professional drivers in charge of vehicles of more than 3.5 tonnes or large passenger vehicles must obtain a Driver CPC in addition to a vocational licence. New drivers will need to pass a series of initial qualification tests, both theory and practical. The qualification must be maintained with 35 hours of periodic training every five years. If not, your licence will be voided. There are four individual parts to the test.
Part One – The Theory Test
The theory test is split into two parts. The first is a multiple-choice test and the second is hazard perception. The multiple-choice test has 100 questions and must be completed in 1 hour and 15 minutes. The pass mark is 85%. The hazard perception test consists of 19 video clips with 5 marks being the highest possible score on any given question. These marks are then generated into a percentage, with 67% being the minimum percentage needed for a pass.
Part Two – Case Studies
This part consists of seven individual case studies that the driver must complete online. These are short scenarios based on situations that are likely to arise when working as a lorry driver. Each scenario is realistic and could occur when working as a lorry driver. There are 6-8 multiple choice questions based on each scenario. The case studies section of the exam lasts 1 hour and 15 minutes and the pass mark is 80%.
Part Three – Practical Test
The third part of the CPC examination is a practical test. This is designed to test the driver’s knowledge and understanding of how to operate an HGV. You can expect a practical road driving section, off-road exercise and to answer vehicle safety questions. The whole process takes about 1 hour and 30 minutes to complete and is designed to test your driving ability.
Part Four – Driver CPC Practical Test with Vehicle Safety Demonstration
The final part is an interactive test. During this, the driver is expected to demonstrate several operations that are required to safely operate a lorry and not specifically part of on-road driving. You can expect to be tested on how to assess emergency, complete a walk around safety check of an HGV, demonstrate how to correctly load and secure goods inside the vehicle and what you need to do to prevent trafficking in illegal immigrants.
To achieve a full Driver CPC qualification, you’ll need to pass all four parts of the test. If you want a vocational licence and don’t have any intention of driving HGV vehicles, you’ll need to pass the theory and practical test alone.
So, there you have it, our guide on how to become an HGV driver. Undoubtedly one of the most flexible and freeing careers, becoming an HGV driver will help you to become unshackled from your 9-5 desk job and travel across the UK – and indeed Europe, whilst being paid to do so!
Need to know more? Just one more thing. The entire process takes just 8-10 weeks and you could earn as much as £45,000 per year. Thinking of becoming an HGV driver? Learn more by clicking the link here.