Why a Career as an HGV Lorry Driver Could Change Your Life

Updated on October 3, 2014

HGV Driver Careers on the Rise

The first step to getting a high-paying job is to get your training. Prepare yourself to take the two-part exam.
The first step to getting a high-paying job is to get your training. Prepare yourself to take the two-part exam.

In the past, working as a commercial lorry driver was looked down upon as a career only for those who were uneducated and unable to find better work. However, a severe shortage of drivers has changed all of that. Today, HGV (heavy goods vehicle) and LGV (large goods vehicle) drivers can earn an excellent income while enjoying the freedom that comes from working on the open road.

Whether you're a younger individual just getting started in the working world or you are looking for a new career, getting your HGV license and becoming a commercial lorry driver could change your life forever. And with a good percentage of older drivers getting ready to retire within the next few years, demand for qualified replacements is expected to grow.

The first step to becoming an HGV lorry driver is to get your training. Training will prepare you to take your written theory test and teach you how to drive heavy vehicles in preparation for the physical skills test. More on that later.

Thousands of Openings for UK Lorry Drivers

A long vehicle maneuvering city streets in Campbeltown, Scotland.
A long vehicle maneuvering city streets in Campbeltown, Scotland. | Source

The first thing any job seeker needs to know is that their career of choice has vacancies. That's not a problem for the UK's transportation industry. The most recent statistics suggest there are at least 30,000 openings for lorry drivers across the country. This involves both class I and class II drivers across multiple industries.

The types of positions available include:

  • Long Distance—These jobs are ideal for those willing to drive all across Europe hauling cargo from shipping yards, rail yards, and distribution warehouses. There's a lot of open-road driving here as well as the opportunity to see new places and meet new people.
  • UK Driving—A smaller subset of long-distance driving confines the individual to the UK only. It's still considered long-distance in some circles but you'll never leave the UK. Drivers who stay in the UK tend to have shorter runs and are home more frequently. This is good for drivers with families.
  • Local and Regional—The local and regional driver usually stays within a couple of hundred miles of their home base. These types of drivers work for regional warehouses, construction companies, logistics outfits, and so on.
  • City Haulers—There is a significant need for city drivers able to move heavy lorries around in congested local traffic. This type of work requires someone who can handle the pressure of heavy traffic while manoeuvring a large vehicle in tight spaces.

Salary and Job Security for Lorry Drivers

Despite what you may have heard, working as a professional lorry driver is a well-paying career. As a single guy working in the long-haul industry, I can easily make £30,000 annually along with a decent list of benefits. Married and older drivers can earn just as much if they're dedicated and hard working.

As far as job security is concerned, there's nothing to worry about. Right now the UK is experiencing a shortage of licensed drivers all across the country. It's expected that driver retirements over the next three to five years will only increase the demand for guys like me. Once you get your license, you should have no trouble finding work.

A big lorry on a small bridge in rural England.
A big lorry on a small bridge in rural England. | Source

Tests Required for Class I or II Licences

If I've piqued your interest enough to get you thinking about a career as an HGV lorry driver, remember that it all starts with training. You won't be able to start driving until you pass a two-part exam that will license you as either a class I or class II driver. The exam consists of both written theory and practical skills.

Before you can begin practical skills training, you'll need to take and pass the theory exam. The two-part exam consists of general highway knowledge and a hazard assessment. You can study on your own for this task or take a training course that provides the usual information that you'll need to know.

Skills Training for Your New Career

Once you pass your theory exam, you'll be eligible to begin physical skills training. This training actually puts you behind the wheel of a commercial lorry where you'll learn to operate the vehicle through practical experience.

At the conclusion of your practical skills training, you'll be signed up to take your road test. That's when you will have to demonstrate everything you've learned. From the date you take your medical exam to the time you hold your license in your hand can be as little as eight weeks if everyone involved does what's expected.

If you need a recommendation for an excellent training facility, I suggest the HGV Training Centre. No matter where you live in the UK, they likely have a facility located near you. Their 50 locations include vehicles of all types that will enable you to get just the training you need.

Guys, take it from me; driving a lorry is an excellent career choice that pays well and offers excellent job security. If you're not the kind of guy that wants to be stuck in an office all day, you'll love the freedom of the open road whether you decide to drive in the city, regionally, or across Europe. Don't pass up this opportunity for a great career.

Just remember that your career is up to you. The sooner you get started, the sooner you'll be working.

More Resources for Your HGV Driver Career

Road Haulage Association

As a trade organization for transportation, logistics, and general commercial driving, the Road Haulage Association maintains a website with information that commercial drivers need. You can even sign up as a member so you'll always be up-to-date with the latest news.

Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency

This is the site for the Department for Transport's Driver & Vehicle Licensing Agency. This agency is tasked with managing the UK's 36 million registered vehicles and their drivers. You'll find a lot of information about licensing, vehicle taxes, and other information pertaining to commercial drivers.

Freight Transport Association

The Freight Transport Association is a leading trade organization for the UK's freight transport and logistics industries. If you're looking for news and information about the current state of the industry, this is the place to find it.

Transport Friends

Transport Friends is an independent organization established for providing the UK's commercial drivers with up-to-date and unbiased information about regulations, licensing, upcoming trade shows, new equipment, and so on.


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    • profile image

      Steve 19 months ago

      Thinking of going for class 1 Amon 27k now been told I can get 30 do u think that's true or stay away many thanks steve

    • profile image

      Robert 21 months ago

      Driving them 32 years to much hassle now

    • profile image

      dave 2 years ago

      I agree with most on here. Driving is a joke now. Don't beleave a word this article says. It's tosh. 24 years of driving and wages are crap. 30 k a year yeah for 70 hours work a week. No home life. So if you want a divorce and don't want to see your kids grow up. Join the party. Hauliers think they own you. You get treated like crap day in and out by some of the most named company's like Stobarts. £8.30p an hour. Longs of leeds £7.50p last I heard.

      Get a real job. Like cleaning toilets.

      If I had my time again I wouldn't waste my money.

    • profile image

      David C 3 years ago

      For someone trying to decide what career/job path to take next, the article is a pleasant read. However not supported by the actual drivers. I was office based erning £30k for 50hrs per week and always had the fasination of becoming a trucker. Even applied for my provisional in 1996 which is still valid. What I am trying to say is; there is lots of negativity surrounding the industry and does not bow well for new comers into the trade. Oh well. Got some hard thinking ahead.

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      Returnloads.net 3 years ago

      Uk haulage companies can't afford to pay much more than minimum wage now due to the stiff competition from Eastern European hauliers whose labour costs and fuel costs are a lot less..

    • profile image

      Andrew mccallum 3 years ago

      why are all these LGV training companies taking money off new drivers knowing that they will struggle to find employment due to the two years minimum experience rule, surely this is a scam and gives no confidence to new drivers looking to start a career in the transport industry?

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      Colin Rowell 3 years ago

      I've been a HGV 1 driver for twenty one years now and would advise anyone thinking of getting into this industry to stay away from it as there is no job security in this industry and wages are a joke. I'm now earning the same amount as I did 21 years ago which effectively means over the past 20 years I've taken a pay cut year on year.

      So for whomever wrighten this site up needs a complete reality check

    • profile image

      Rachael Shalloe 3 years ago

      Hi Michael, it ranges from around £900 - up to £1500 depending on where you go, feel free to come over to our page on FB www.facebook.com/godirect.org.uk

    • profile image

      Michael C 3 years ago

      Beautifully written article. Apologies for the lateness in discovering it online. Hopefully you may still receive notifications for any feedback. I was wondering how much it would cost to be trained fully for a HGV licence? Thanks.

    • profile image

      Paul McMahon 3 years ago

      What planet u from son catch yourself on boy... Nobody what's to pay for driving job it's min wedge now

    • profile image

      driver 3 years ago

      Lorry drivers have a good life? that's new!!!! Lies...