Although not considered the most glamourous of jobs, truck driving offers you the opportunity to travel, manage your own day and earn more than you might think. Truck driving is far more than what it appears and could be perfect you.
The Job at a Glance
Naturally, to become a truck driver you need to be able to drive, however you also need to be over 18 and hold a full car license before you can even think about gaining the necessary LGV training and Certificate of Professional Competence (Driver CPC). In addition to the actual driving, you’ll also be responsible for supervising the loading and unloading of your truck, including that everything is stowed safely and securely, planning your route with you manager and then adjusting it if necessary, and completing paperwork and log books.
To be a Truck Driver you have to be a good driver, however you also need to have good concentration skills as you will be on the road for long periods of time and not mind working alone. It is also essential that you have a good understanding of road safety, and how to safely load and unload your truck. Alongside this, you’ll need good people skills as you’ll inevitably have to deal with customers during deliveries, and be able to complete any paperwork and record sheets accurately.
On average, you should expect to work 42 hours a week, and will be expected to work in all weather conditions, during both day and night. You should also be willing to spend time away from home, perhaps staying overnight in order to complete a job. Extra hours are available, however there are very strict laws about how many hours you drive in relation to your breaks, and these must be adhered to.
Entry Requirements and How to Qualify
As a starting point, you must make sure you’re over 18, have a full car license, good eyesight, a competent level of English and Maths for the LGV English theory test, and pass the medical associated with the LGV test.
The LGV license is divided into two, Category C1 (able to drive rigid vehicles up to 7.5 tonnes) and Category C (able to drive rigid vehicles over 7.5 tonnes). There’s also an additional test – Category C+E – which allows you to drive with trailers.
The course for the LGV license generally lasts between one and three weeks, and includes driving skills, learning how to load and secure loads, and basic mechanics, while the test comprises questions on vehicle safety, manoeuvres, road driving for 25 miles, and a theory test based around both the highway code and LGV regulations.
You can choose to take the course before applying for jobs as an LGV driver, however if you’re currently employed by a transport company and you fancy a change, they may be willing to fund your course. An apprenticeship may also be an option.
Alongside your LGV license you also need a Driver CPC. This is made up of four tests; a theory test, a case study test, a driving ability test and a practical demonstration. Once passed you are qualified, however it must be kept undated, so every five years you need to undertake an additional 35 hours of Driver CPC training.
Different Types of Truck Driving Roles
Like any job, there are different types of Truck Driving roles, and each have slightly different requirements or may be more suited to different people. For example, local and regional drivers will work within a specific perimeter, and would be a good fit for anyone who doesn’t want to work far from home, meanwhile being a city driver would be best suited to someone who doesn’t mind heavy traffic or manoeuvring a large vehicle in tight spaces.
The final sector is long distance, which is divided between driving within the UK and driving around Europe. Driving within the UK means you get shorter runs, so you would be at home more frequently, while travelling around Europe offers you the chance to see the world.
According to The National Careers Service, starting salaries are between £18,000 and £22,000 per annum, and with experience this can rise to a possible £28,000. Meanwhile, if you become a specialist fuel or chemical tanker driver you could earn up to £35,000 per annum.
Training and Development Opportunities, and Career Progression
To drive different types of loads you need different training and qualifications. For example, if you transport dangerous good like chemicals you’re required to gain an Advisory Dangerous Goods by Road Certificate (ADR). Initial training is usually completed in five days, and this certificate also has to be renewed every five years to remain valid.
In order to transport aggregates, concrete or other materials associated with the extractive and mineral processing industries, you need an MPQC Driver Skills card.
As well as driving, Truck Drivers can become a Dangerous Goods Safety Advisor. They are employed by freight companies to ensure that all legal requirements are being met and followed, and training is provided by both the Road Haulage Association (RHA) and the Freight Transport Association (FTA).
The RHA and FTA also offer CPC instructor training, and the Operator’s Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) which will allow you to move into transport management roles.
If you’ve been a qualified LGV driver for at least three years, (or 12 months if you have held a licence for passenger carrying vehicles for three years), you could apply to become an LGV instructor.
Aside from this, you could also consider setting up your own business once you’ve gained some experience, perhaps even building up your own fleet.
How Does the Truck Driving Sector in the UK Currently Look?
Currently there is a massive demand for qualified truck drivers, with The National Careers Service stating that it is estimated that between 45,000 and 60,000 drivers will be required between now and 2020.
In September 2015 The Mirror reported that 600,000 HGV-licensed drivers register in the UK had an average age of 57, and that only 17,000 new HGV drivers qualify each year, meaning as more drivers retire there won’t be enough trained drivers to replace them. Many within the industry believe the UK could be in trouble if more people, young people in particular, do not become Truck Drivers.
A report published last year before the general election suggested that more should be done by schools to educate youngsters about the industry as many are unaware of its existence or uninformed about how it works, and therefore do not consider it as an career.
All things considered, if you are looking for a new role and the prospect of driving appeals to you, looking into becoming a Truck Driving could be worthwhile.