What you need to do to become a HGV driver

You may have already heard that HGV drivers are an occupation in short supply. In fact, there have been concerns about HGV driver shortages for years now. They have just been amplified due to a combination of Brexit, COVID-19 and growing demand. This means that there’s probably never been a better time to become an HGV driver.

To explain further, Fleet Ex, specialist in ex-fleet trucks, share their insight into what you need to know about the process.

Qualifications are a minimum standard

First of all, you need to have held a regular driver’s licence for at least a year. Then you need a suitable HGV-driving qualification. This is generally known as the Driver CPC qualification. The standard entry route is the Category C1 licence. This qualifies you to drive vehicles with a total payload of up to 3.5 and 7.5 tonnes (with a trailer of up to 750kg).

The Category C qualification will qualify you for entry-level jobs in HGV driving. In general, these carry a wage of about £10.71 per hour. When demand is high, of course, this can go up. You can also get hiring bonuses and other perks. There is often the potential for overtime in HGV driving, however, there are strict limits on how many hours HGV drivers can work.

It helps to have value-add skills

Right now, just having an HGV licence is likely to be enough to secure you a well-paying job. If, however, you want to have your pick of the very best jobs, it helps to have value-add skills. These will also stand you in good stead if you decide you want to progress. For clarity, there are plenty of routes for progression if you want them. Some people, however, are perfectly happy staying as standard HGV drivers.

There are five sorts of skills that are particularly in demand for HGV drivers. These are:

  • Interpersonal and communication skills
  • Organizational and productivity skills
  • Problem-solving skills and adaptability
  • Technical skills (both mechanical and digital)
  • Language skills

Realistically, the first three are non-negotiable. All HGV drivers will need to be able to demonstrate them to some extent just to qualify. If, however, you can go over and above the basic standard, then you will make yourself even more valuable to an employer.

Similarly, if you can demonstrate competence with technology then employers will be delighted to have you on board. Like most other sectors, the logistics sector is making increasing use of technology. Currently, this is probably most obvious in warehouses and support hubs. Technology is, however, starting to play more of a role in driving. This role is likely to increase as HGVs both go electric and become smarter.

If you’re hoping to drive internationally, then language skills are a huge bonus. They can be very useful at border crossings and customs checkpoints. If you’re planning on applying for a job where you will, or even just could, be driving internationally, try to ensure you have a passport before you apply. If necessary renew it so it has an extended period of validity.

Is HGV driving for you?

As you can see, there are a lot of financial benefits to becoming an HGV driver. It can be a very rewarding trade on its own. It can also serve as a foundation for a lot of other careers, especially, but not exclusively, in logistics.

At the same time, it’s important to recognize that it’s not the right career for everyone. People who are happy as HGV drivers have some very specific personality traits. In particular, HGV drivers need to be comfortable spending long periods on their own but still have the interpersonal skills to deal effectively with colleagues and customers (and sometimes the public).

They also need the ability to plan ahead but adapt to situations. This sometimes requires them to solve problems on their own, albeit with support provided remotely.