There’s little doubt that lorries are the kings of the road, and without them trucking on, whatever the weather or distance, the UK economy could well grind to a halt. HGV drivers haul everything from milk and pet food to chemicals and fuel, and they play a key role in the chain of production which keeps retailers, supermarkets, warehouses and manufacturers in business. After all, a successful business depends on people being able to get hold of what they make or sell.
In the past lorry driving was often seen as either a stop-gap job, or something people got into because they didn’t have enough skills or qualifications to find anything ‘better’, but these days it is recognized as a specialist job, and become something many people actively choose to do.
Although there are different classes of HGV qualifications, all drivers need to:
- have excellent driving skills, in all weather conditions and types of roads
- be able to take and pass tests
- have a good awareness of road rules and laws
- be able to navigate unfamiliar roads
- be capable of loading and unloading goods if required
- be responsible for hazardous materials (if relevant)
- have at least a basic knowledge of truck maintenance
- maintain detailed admin records
As the market for HGV drivers continues to grow and older workers retire there are lots of jobs available across the UK. This is especially true for class 1 drivers, and those willing to work in the London area, or with more complex loads, but it is a fantastic time for anyone to get into the profession at entry level too. There are at least 30,000 job vacancies for HGV drivers to choose from at the moment. Plus, as the average age of the current HGV driver population is 53, and around 13% of the total being in their 60s, the current shortage of drivers is not going to ease anytime soon.
Plenty of companies offer either HGV apprenticeships or their own trainee schemes. This is a great way for young people to get a foot in the door, and get their HGV licence training fully funded, while also earning a wage. Agency work is a good way for older, self-funded HGV drivers to get experience, while those in the game for longer sometimes go independent and work as a driver-owner.
Types of work
Typical driving job categories include:
- Local – based within several close by towns or a nearby city, this work involves making multiple drops a day to target outlets. The hours are pretty regular and drivers should be able to go home each evening. This type of work often requires a HGV level 2 or 3 licence, which covers jobs like refuse collecting, smaller van furniture removal and parcel delivery.
- Regional – as the geographical area covered is bigger – for example all of Yorkshire – this may require drivers to stay overnight once or twice a week.
- Long haul – drivers can cover the entire country, and sometimes cross to continental countries too. The salary and benefits are better than average to compensate for having less time at home. Many long distance jobs require drivers have the highest level HGV licence, due to the lorries being larger and heavier.
Let’s talk about money
Salaries are obviously always going to be higher for more highly qualified drivers, and for those with extra training, but they are still pretty impressive for others too. Newly qualified drivers can expect to earn around £20,000, and that figure should rise substantially as they gain experience. Some jobs may pay hourly, and again you can expect to see figures offered well over the minimum wage.
There are often other benefits included in HGV driver packages, such as discounted products, private healthcare, company shares, discounted meals and so on.
It’s always nice to know that there are opportunities to progress in a career if that is appealing, and experienced HGV 1 drivers have several. Completing an advanced training ADR Certificate course makes the driver eligible to transport tankers with chemicals, and other hazardous or toxic loads, and enjoy the higher rate of pay those jobs offer.
Other possible moves could be into LGV driver instructor positions, logistical planning, or driver management.
There’s never been a better time to be looking for HGV driving work in the UK, and every year more and more people are signing up to enjoy the benefits this profession offers.