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How to Become a Lorry Driver

The allure of the open road, the freedom of travel, and the satisfaction of playing a crucial role in the supply chain make lorry driving an appealing career choice. In the UK, the demand for more HGV drivers is consistently high, offering a stable and rewarding career path.

This guide will walk you through the process to start your journey in this rewarding profession, providing a step-by-step journey into the world of lorry driving, from the initial decision to the day you take the wheel as a professional lorry driver.

Key Takeaways

  • Understanding the Role: Lorry driving is more than just steering a vehicle; it demands concentration, long hours on the road, and a commitment to road safety. Successful lorry drivers are comfortable with solitude, adept at managing responsibility, and ensure timely and safe deliveries.
  • Basic Requirements of a HGV Driver: Aspiring drivers must be at least 18 years old, possess a valid UK car licence, and be ready for a profession that involves long hours and handling cargo.
  • Choosing the Right Licence: Various categories of lorry licences exist in the UK, from Cat C1 to Cat C+E, each permitting different vehicle types. Selecting the appropriate licence aligns with the size and weight of the vehicles you aim to drive.
  • Training and Tests: The journey begins with a mandatory medical test, followed by a theory test akin to standard car driving. Obtaining a provisional HGV licence marks the official start, leading to practical training and a subsequent practical test. Post success, the Driver CPC is necessary for professional driving, involving additional tests and regular training.
  • The Reality for HGV Drivers: Beyond driving, lorry drivers manage paperwork, ensure vehicle safety, and navigate international routes. This career demands patience, attention to detail, and a strong sense of responsibility, often accompanied by long working hours.
  • Earnings and Lifestyle: While lorry driving offers an attractive earning potential ranging from £40,000 to £55,000 per year, it comes with a lifestyle trade-off. Irregular hours, extended periods away from home, independent work, and strict adherence to driving regulations characterise the profession.
  • Is HGV Driving for You?: Consider lorry driving if you enjoy driving, changing scenery, and solitude. However, if a traditional office environment or extended periods of isolation pose challenges, alternative roles like bus driving might be more suitable.

Understanding the Role

Before diving into the specifics, it’s essential to understand what being a lorry driver entails. This role is about more than just driving; it requires strong concentration, the ability to manage long hours on the road, and a commitment to road safety. Lorry drivers are responsible for transporting goods across the country and sometimes even across borders. 

This role requires a high level of responsibility, as you’ll be in charge of valuable cargo. It’s a job that suits those who enjoy solitude, are comfortable with long hours on the road, and can handle the responsibility of timely and safe deliveries.

Basic Requirements of a HGV driver

To start your journey, you must meet some basic requirements. You need to be at least 18 years old and hold a valid UK car licence ensuring you can legally drive. If your professional driving qualification is from outside the UK, you’ll need to transfer it. The role is not suited for those who prefer desk jobs, as it involves long working hours and handling cargo.

Choosing the Right Licence

There are different categories of lorry licences in the UK, each allowing you to drive various types of vehicles. A HGV licence is also known as a professional driving qualification called Cat:

  • Cat C1 ( Class 1 ): Allows you to drive vehicles weighing between 3,500kg and 7,500kg, with or without a trailer up to 750kg.
  • Cat C1+E: Similar to Cat C1, but with a trailer weighing more than 750kg.
  • Cat C: For driving larger vehicles over 3,500kg with a trailer up to 750kg.
  • Cat C+E: The most comprehensive licence, allowing you to drive vehicles over 3,500kg with trailers heavier than 750kg.

Training and Tests

Medical Test

A medical exam is mandatory to ensure you’re fit to drive large vehicles. This involves a consultation and examination by a doctor, who will complete a DVLA form as part of the process.

Theory Test

Like car driving, you’ll need to pass a theory test, which includes multiple-choice questions and hazard perception. Preparation is key, and many training providers offer resources to help you succeed.

Provisional Licence

Similar to learning to drive a car, you’ll need to apply for a provisional HGV licence. This is your first official step towards becoming a lorry driver.

Practical Training

Practical training is where you get behind the wheel of an HGV vehicle. Choose a reputable training provider to ensure high-quality instruction, HGV driving can be challenging This phase culminates in a practical test.

Driver CPC Training

After passing your practical exam, you’ll need the Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) to drive professionally. This involves additional tests and a commitment to ongoing training every five years.

The Reality for HGV Drivers

HGV drivers have responsibilities extending beyond driving. You’ll manage your company’s paperwork, ensure your vehicle is safe and roadworthy, and sometimes navigate international routes and regulations. It’s a job that requires patience, attention to detail, and a strong sense of responsibility, as well as long working hours.

Earnings and Lifestyle

The earning potential for lorry drivers can be attractive, with salaries varying based on skills and experience, the type of vehicle driven, and the nature of the work. Lorry driving can be lucrative, with salaries ranging from £40,000 to £55,000 per year, However, it’s important to consider the lifestyle. The job can involve irregular hours, long periods away from home, primarily working independently and strict adherence to driving and rest time regulations.

Is HGV Driving for You?

If you love driving, enjoy changing scenery, and don’t mind spending time alone, lorry driving could be an excellent career choice. It offers the opportunity to see different parts of the country (or even Europe), a sense of independence, and a critical role in the economy. However, if you prefer a more traditional office environment or struggle with long periods of solitude, it might not be the right fit. A different course of action may be a similar role, such as a bus driver.

Conclusion

Becoming a lorry driver in the UK is a journey that requires commitment, training, and a passion for the road. With the right mindset and preparation, it can lead to a fulfilling and financially rewarding career. Remember, the road to becoming a lorry driver is as much about personal discovery as it is about professional development. Embrace the journey, and you may find a career that offers more than just a job – but a lifestyle that suits your love for the open road.

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