There’s a huge shortage of lorry drivers, in particular heavy goods vehicle (or HGV) drivers. Online shopping and a global economy see the logistics industry expanding its reach every year, which means you can have your pick of driving roles if you have the valid licence and right qualifications.
If you’re interested in becoming a professional lorry driver, read on to find the five steps to a fulfilling and varied career that will help keep the UK moving.
There are two non-negotiables before you can start training to be an HGV driver. First of all, you must be over 18, and secondly you must already hold a full car driving licence.
If you’re eligible, you can order forms D2 and D4 from the DVLA to get the ball rolling.
Driving an HGV is a demanding job, and taking charge of a large commercial vehicle for long journeys at home and abroad makes good overall health and eyesight vital.
The D4 form you’ll have ordered from the DVLA is for a medical assessment, which a registered medical practitioner (either a GP or a private doctor) needs to fill out with you. Among other things, they’ll measure your blood pressure, test your urine for diabetes, conduct an eye test and ask you questions about your medical history.
That form then goes to the DVLA, which decides if you meet the necessary health standards.
If you pass your medical examination, the next step is to fill out the D2 form for a provisional licence so you can start your HGV training. There are lots of training centres across the country that run practical training courses and theory tests for the four different types of licence:
This is the first notch up from the UK car driver’s licence. It allows you to drive commercial vehicles up to 7.5 tonnes in gross weight, with a trailer up to 750kg - for example, a cargo van, a light box truck or a tractor-trailer.
Bear in mind that if you passed your driving test before 1997, your licence will already include C1.
If you have your Category C1 licence, you can then apply for C1 + E. This entitles you to drive a 7.5 tonne vehicle with a large, heavy utility trailer (find out more about the weights this licence covers here).
This is the most common licence for lorry drivers in the UK to have and allows you to drive commercial vehicles up to 32 tonnes, plus a trailer with a maximum authorised mass up to 750kg MAM (find more on this definition here). In a nutshell, this means most articulated lorries, rigid lorries, tankers and tippers.
Earn a Category C + E licence (also known as a Class 1 licence) and you’ve reached the top rung of the licence ladder as a lorry driver, as you can drive the largest and heaviest vehicles.
This includes oversized articulated lorries (or artics) and heavy construction equipment. Basically, it means category C vehicles with a trailer over 750kg - the ‘E’ in the license stands for ‘entitlement’.
The final step to becoming a professional lorry driver? You’ll need to earn your initial Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (or Driver CPC) qualification.
Pass the four modules - including a theory test as well as a driving ability test - and you receive a Driver Qualification Card (DQC). It lasts for five years, and you’ll need to keep it with you whenever you’re driving.