Do you have what it takes to become a HGV Driver?
What is a HGV Driver?
Let’s start with the basics – what exactly is a HGV Driver? HGV stands for ‘Heavy Goods Vehicle’. It’s the term for someone qualified to operate a truck or lorry over 3,500kg. But it’s a little more complicated than that…
The industry is a mash of old and new and so HGV and LGV are often interchangeable. LGV is what the EU calls Large Goods Vehicles but what the UK Government calls Light Goods Vehicles. What used to be HGV Class 1 and 2 was updated by EU Regulations, so, now there are LGV Category C+E. C is rigid heavy goods, and E means you can tow a trailer too.
LGV C1+E is the one everyone is looking for at the moment, but for the purposes of what people are most familiar with, in this article – we’ll use HGV.
The media can’t get enough of talking about the UK shortage of HGV drivers. They blame Brexit, Covid, DVSA and all the rest as reasons why there are not enough drivers, but, in all honesty, they’ve just finally realised what those of us in the logistics industry have known for years. There has been a shortage all over the world, and the rate of retirement outstrips the rate of new employment (your typical HGV Driver is male and around 53)
So, why Become a Long Distance Lorry Driver?
HGV Driving is one of the highest-paid jobs you can do without a degree, and you won’t have a massive student loan to pay back either.
It can be a simple switch from other careers, including the armed forces, couriers and supply chain roles such as warehouse operatives.
You’ll get the freedom to choose your schedule (tramping, days or nights) plus opportunities to be your own boss – if you have a good relationship with the company you work for they can even help you do this.
Once you have your Cat C1+E licence you will never be out of a job. You have the potential for incredibly high earnings if you want to put the work in and you can choose a lifestyle that suits you.
What Type of Licence is Required to Qualify as an HGV Truck Driver?
- You must be over 18, have a valid car driving licence and be willing to work. Hard. The actual practical HGV training only takes 5 days, but the process will take about 6-10 weeks to complete overall.
- To get your full HGV drivers licence, you’ll have to pass a theory and practical ability driving exam. It’s a formula you’ll recognise – a theory test split into multiple choice and case studies (or hazard perception), and a practical demonstration.
- To legally drive a HGV as your job, you will also need a professional driving qualification called the Driver Certificate of Professional Competence. You’ll need 35 hours of driving under your belt before your Driver CPC card (or DQC) is issued.
There are some exceptions to all this – if you’re ex-military you may be able to transition from military to civvy street driving by transferring your skills to recognised certificates or using training credits. If you’re HGV qualified, you can skip straight to getting your DQC instead.
If you’re a newly qualified driver with Macintyre you’ll get a mentor for the first 4 weeks, with ongoing follow-ups for up to 3 months if needed, to get you up to speed, answer questions and build your confidence.
Understanding the Risk and Benefits of Driving as an HGV Driver
Driving for a living isn’t for everyone. Like every job, it has its ups and downs – you’ll have to think on your feet (or on your seat in this case!) and work in a heavily regulated industry. But it’s also rewarding, you get a lot of freedom compared with other jobs and you’ll make mates for life. Plus, there are not a lot of jobs out there where you can earn upwards of £45,000 without studying for three years and spending a fortune on a degree.
The industry is currently around 100,000 drivers short. That means there has never been a better time to qualify and get your Category C 1+E licence. You will have your pick of roles.
Of course, you’ll choose Macintyre over all the others – drivers are the wheels of our business and that’s why we invest in our team. We offer fair pay, steady hours and competitive bonuses. You’ll get plenty of in-house training, opportunities for growth and CPD (continuous professional development). We’re proud of our Macintyre family.
What it Takes to Become an HGV Driver in the UK
It takes a lot of hard work, common sense and commitment. Loafers, time-wasters and moaners need not apply. Professional HGV drivers in the UK are some of the safest and most advanced drivers in the world but they’re also the most heavily monitored and you have to play by the rules.
It’s not just about driving either. Planning, monitoring, loading and unloading, maintaining and building relationships with clients means it’s a pretty rewarding and sociable career choice if you want it to be.
Tips from the Pro’s – Life as a Professional Truck Driver in the UK.
We asked drivers across our social media platforms for some advice for new drivers. Here are a few of our favourite responses.
There is no such thing as a stupid question. Whatever it is just ask it – better safe than sorry.
Make sure you check your fifth wheel when you leave your truck – might save you an embarrassing moment!
Trust your instinct, if it doesn’t look right or feel right, it probably isn’t right.
Doesn’t matter how long it takes to do the job, just do it right. Mistakes cost more than time, and speed will come later.
Take as many shunts as you need. There’s a saying in the industry: ‘Take a shunt…” but I won’t repeat it here…
Beware of the ‘trucker diet’. It’s easy to eat rubbish and not move much while you’re on the road. Try and get some exercise in on your downtime.
Always take a pair of sliders or flip-flops on nights out to use in the shower!
If you’re looking for a career change or a new driving opportunity, we have roles available from tramping to days and nights, along with subcontractor opportunities. We’re also offering Loyalty Bonuses and a new pay deal. There has never been a better time to join the Macintyre Team. check out our current vacancies today.