The HGV and LGV driving sector in the UK offers a lot of job opportunities. Currently, there is a great demand for qualified lorry drivers in the country. According to The National Careers Service, an estimated 45,000 to 60,000 lorry drivers will be required by 2020.
It is reported that as of 2015, there were around 6,00,000 heavy goods vehicle (HGV) licensed drivers in the country with an average age of 57, and surprisingly, only 17,000 new drivers qualify each year. This means, there is an acute shortage of newly trained drivers.
If you are looking to make a career as a lorry driver, this guide is for you.
What Does A Lorry Driver Do?
A lorry driver drives commercial vehicles like articulated lorries, transporters, tankers and trailer wagons. They work from ports, warehouses, distribution centres and depots, and transport goods all over the UK and Europe.
They can take up different types of truck driving roles, such as:
- Local or regional driving – A person can choose to work within a specific area. This is suitable for someone who does not wish to work far from home and does not mind driving in heavy traffic. A city driver should be skilled in manoeuvring large vehicles in tight spaces.
- Long distance driving – A lorry driver can opt for driving within the UK or around Europe. If they drive within the UK and can go home frequently. If they travel around Europe they may get a chance to see the world.
The lorry driver has to perform several other functions besides driving the vehicle. They are:
- Work with the transport managers and plan the delivery schedules and routes.
- Assist or supervise the work of loading and unloading the goods.
- Ensure that the load is placed in a safe and secure manner.
- Follow the traffic reports and change the route if required.
- Complete the delivery paperwork and log books
- Handle basic maintenance tasks, such as oil, brake and tyre checks before and after the journey.
A lorry driver has to work more than 40 hours a week on an average. They may have to work both during the day and night, and in all sorts of weather. They can work an extra hour but can drive only for a certain number of hours between breaks.
Do I Have The Qualities To Become A Lorry Driver?
While anyone can become a lorry driver, but some qualities are highly desirable. Some qualities required to make a good lorry driver are:
- The person should have a strong liking for driving.
- He should have good concentration skills.
- He should possess a great deal of patience.
- He must be a cautious and responsible driver.
- He should be accustomed to working alone for a long time.
- He ought to be self-motivated.
- He should have good social skills because he has to deal with customers while delivering goods.
- Most importantly, he should be in a good physical condition.
What Are The Requirements To Become A Lorry Driver?
In order to become a lorry driver a person should fulfil the following conditions:
- He should have a full car driver’s licence.
- He must be above 18 years of age.
- He should obtain the Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC), a professional driving qualification.
To obtain the full Driver CPC
- A person should apply for a bus license or provisional lorry.
- He should pass four tests to qualify for the Driver CPC. The tests include a theory test, a case study test, a driving ability test and a practical demonstration.
- To remain qualified, he should undergo 35 hours of training every 5 years.
- He must renew the licence every 5 years after he becomes 45 years old and renew it every year after he becomes 65 years old.
A person who takes a National Vocational Training (NVT) course can drive professionally for a year without appearing for the Driver CPC part 2 and 4 tests.
Getting a provisional lorry licence
A person should choose the type of vehicle he wants to drive and then apply for the necessary licence. The different licences for various vehicles are:
- Medium-sized vehicles
- C1 category- It is the lowest class of driving licence that enables a person to drive commercial vehicles with the capacity of 3.5 to 7.5 tonnes MAM (maximum authorized mass) and the trailer of up to 750 kg. A person who possesses this licence can drive light box trucks, cargo vans and luton vans.
- C1E category: With this license, a person can drive any C1 category commercial vehicle with a trailer of more than 750 kg. However, the trailer should weigh less than the vehicle when it is fully loaded. It is ideal for drivers of vehicles with large trailers.
The maximum authorized mass (MAM) of the above two categories cannot be more than 12 tonnes.
- Large vehicles
- C category – The most common of all, this license allows the person to drive vehicles of over 3.5 tonnes with a trailer up to 750 kg. Articulated lorries, tippers, tankers and rigid lorries are included in this category.
- CE category – This is the top licence that a lorry driver can get in the UK, and enables them to drive C category vehicles with a trailer of over 750 kg. This category includes the largest and heaviest vehicles such as oversized articulated lorries and heavy construction equipment.
The Driver CPC Has Four Modules
Module 1: Theory test consisting of a multiple choice test and a hazard perception test. The candidate can take these two tests separately. A person must pass both of them within a 2-year period to get a theory test certificate.
- The multiple-choice test is a 115-minute test with 100 questions. The person must secure 85% marks in order to pass.
- In the hazard perception test, the candidate is shown 19 video clips with 20 hazards. Each hazard carries 5 marks and a person must get a score of 67% in order to pass.
After a person has passed module 1 he should pass module 3 within 2 years or else he will have to pass module 1 test once again.
Module 2: Case studies test – A person can appear for the case studies test soon after he gets the provisional licence. It is not necessary to pass the theory test first.
The test consists of 7 case studies. They are short scenarios based on real-life situations a lorry driver may face at work. A person has to work through them on a computer and answer 6-8 multiple choice questions on each of these case studies. The duration of the test is 115 minutes. A person must secure 80% marks in order to pass.
After passing this test the person should pass module 4 within 2 years. Otherwise, he will have to take the module 2 test once again.
Module 3: Driving ability – A person should have passed module 1 in order to take up module 3 test.
It is a practical test which lasts for 1 hour and 30 minutes. It includes vehicle safety questions, off-road exercises and practical road driving. In order to pass the test, the candidate has to have15 or fewer driving faults and no serious driving faults.
Module 4: Demonstration test – This is an interactive test where a person has to demonstrate and explain a number of operations that a lorry driver has to perform.
A person is expected to demonstrate how he will load the vehicle in accordance with the safety rules, ensure that the load is kept safe and secure, assess emergency situations, and do a complete vehicle safety check.
The test covers 5 topics from the Driver CPC syllabus. A person can score up to 20 points for every section.
How Much Do Lorry Drivers Earn On Average?
According to The National Careers Service, the average wage of lorry drivers is as follows:
- Beginner – £18,000 – £22,000 per year
- Experienced driver – £28,000 per year
- Specialist fuel or chemical tanker driver – £35,000 per year
Career As A Lorry Driver
Truck driving can be an ideal job for a person who is a good driver and is fond of travelling. The profession offers a number of development opportunities. Truck drivers can take up transport management jobs and act as Dangerous Goods Safety Advisors. After working for three years a qualified LGV or large goods vehicle driver can become an LGV instructor. Moreover, after gaining some experience a lorry driver can set up his own business and even build his own fleet.
I hope this guide on how to become a Lorry Driver gave you a good overview of the career path and progression. If you have any further questions or comments about how to get into transport industry please comment below or visit our career forum for more in-depth discussions.