HGV Licence: Starting your logistics career
The shortage of HGV drivers in the UK has been well reported in recent years, a combination of an ageing workforce, health problems and recruitment issues has meant that fewer people are choosing truck driving as a career. The average UK truck driver is 53 years old, 13% are over the age of 60 and set to retire soon and only 2% are under the age of 25. Meaning there are not enough young drivers to replace the current workforce. 43-60,000 EU drivers make up almost a quarter of the drivers currently on UK roads, a figure that may also begin to decline once the UK leaves the EU, and it’s estimated that the UK needs another 50,000 to 60,000 drivers on its roads. These are the reasons UK firms are calling out for more people to get an HGV licence and the process of doing that is something we will explore in this article.
Getting your HGV licence has many benefits, you will be able to climb the career ladder once you’ve gained some experience and it offers competitive pay and job stability; not to mention the ability to travel across the UK, seeing and experiencing different parts of the country. HGV driving is ideal for people who love driving and adventure and can gain you up to £35K per year. Take a look at some of the example salaries below:
- Starter: £18,000-£22,000 annually
- Experienced: £23,000-£28,000 annually
- Highly Experienced: £29,000-£35,000 annually
- Highly Experienced: £29,000-£35,000 annually
Provisional HGV Licence
Getting your provisional HGV licence begins by ensuring that you are qualified to be an HGV driver. You will have to have a full UK drivers licence and be over the age of 18, from there you are able to apply for your HGV licence forms online on the GOV.UK website. Begin this process by choosing what kind of heavy goods vehicle you want to drive. The options for HGVs that you can apply to drive are listed below:
Medium sized vehicles
- Category C1 – vehicles between 3,500 and 7,500kg Maximum Authorised Weight (MAM) (with a trailer up to 750kg)
- Category C1E – C1 category vehicles with a trailer over 750kg. The combined MAM of both can’t exceed 12,000kg
- Category C – vehicles over 3,500kg (with a trailer up to 750kg MAM)
- Category CE – category C vehicles with a trailer over 750kg.
Forms D2 and D4 can then be ordered from the DVLA. Form D4 must be filled in by a doctor, this can be either your GP (an optician will be required for the eyesight section) or a private doctor who specialises in drivers’ medical exams. Once your forms and photocard driving licence have been sent to the DVLA, you should expect your HGV licence within 3 weeks of the DVLA getting your application; however, it may take longer if any information has to be checked. The application process is totally free, however, if you lose your regular driver’s licence, you will also lose your HGV licence.
Once you have your provisional HGV licence, you will be able to begin the process of achieving your full licence by completing your Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) qualification; if you only want to drive for a hobby and not as part of your career you will not need the full CPC. This qualification is made up of 4 mandatory tests (some drivers have ‘acquired rights’ which mean they do not need to get this qualification and you can find out more about this on the GOV.UK website):
- Theory test
- Case studies test
- Driving ability test
- Practical demonstration
Much like your regular driving test, your theory test can be booked as soon as you receive your provisional HGV licence and you must bring this along with you to the test centre. This part of the qualification will test your knowledge of road safety through a multiple choice questionnaire and a hazard perception test. Your multiple choice will last for 1 hour and 55 minutes, and the pass mark is 85 out of 100 questions. In the hazard perception test, you will watch 19 videos and will have to spot 20 developing hazards and the pass mark is 67 out of 100.
There are multiple options, including physical books, ebooks and apps, for theory test study available on the DVSA website and you are able to take practice tests online. Your test results will be given to you at the test centre, if you fail you will have to wait 3 days before you can sit another theory test. If you’re successful, your test certificate will be posted to you and it will be valid for 2 years.
Similarly to your theory test, the case studies test can be booked as soon as you receive your provisional HGV licence and you will need to bring this item along with you on the test day. During this test, you will work through 7 case studies on a computer that will represent scenarios that you are likely to face in your career as an HGV driver. Each case study will be followed by a multiple choice questionnaire with 6 – 8 questions; the test lasts for 1 hour and 15 minutes and the pass mark is 40 out of 50.
You will get your results on the day at the centre and you will have to wait 3 days before you resit your test if you are unsuccessful. There are study options for this available online, this collection of sample case studies and questions is an option from LGV Theory, you can access and use them for 90 days for just £12.50
Driving ability test
To be able to take this test, you will have to have already passed your theory test and you will have to bring your certificate and provisional licence along with you on the test day. You will also have to have some practical driving experience with the vehicle you are interested in driving, if you don’t already have a training school in mind, Easy as HGV and Specialised HGV are highly rated on Trustpilot and operate throughout the UK.
This practical test will last for 1 hour and 30 minutes, focusing on vehicle safety questions on lorries, practical road driving and off-road exercises. The on-road and off-road exercises will include testing:
- Your use of the vehicle controls
- How you move away at an angle, both uphill and downhill
- How you do a controlled stop
- Your use of the mirrors
- That you are able to give appropriate signals
- The show anticipation and awareness of other people on the road and their actions/intentions
- How you manage your progress and control your vehicle speed
- Your process when dealing with hazards
- That you are able to select a safe place to stop
- That you are able to do an ‘S’ shaped reverse into a bay
- If you’re testing with a trailer, you will also have to show the uncoupling and recoupling procedure
- There will also be 10 minutes of independent driving to show your ability to make safe choices while driving without instruction
If you have fewer than 15 minor driving faults and no major faults, you will have passed the test. Again, if you haven’t, you will have to wait 3 days before re-sitting your test.
To sit your practical demonstration, you must have passed your case studies tests from CPC module 2 and have completed 35 hours of training with an HGV training firm (we have given some options above), you will also have to bring your photocard driving licence and a lorry driving coach. The test can either be arranged by your trainer, or you can book a test with the DVSA. The purpose of the practical demonstration is to show that you are able to handle situations that present themselves to HGV drivers. The way you handle yourself around the vehicle and the following situations must follow the rules of the Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) syllabus, you will be tested on:
- Your ability to load the vehicle according to safety rules and to keep it secure
- Prevent the trafficking of illegal immigrants
- Ability to assess emergency situations
- Reducing physical risks to yourself or others
- The process of your walkaround vehicle safety check
You will have to score at least 15 out of 20 in each topic area and have an overall score of at least 80 out of 100 in order to pass. You should get your Driver CPC card within 20 days of passing the final test and will be able to drive professionally while you wait for it to arrive.
Full HGV licence
Once you have your provisional HGV licence and have completed your CPC qualification, you will be able to order your NVT concession card. This must be carried when you are operating HGVs and will show that you have completed your vocational training. Once all these steps have been taken, you will be able to order your full HGV licence. Your HGV licence will be valid for 5 years and when it is due for renewal you will have to undergo 35 hours of training, this will happen every 5 years. If you’re over 65, it will have to be renewed every year.
Though your provisional licence is free, the modules, training and cards have to be paid for. Training costs will vary depending on the firm you chose, but the costs of the various tests and cards are listed below:
- Driver CPC part 1 – theory – (multiple-choice) = £26
- Driver CPC part 1 – theory – (hazard perception) = £11
- Driver CPC part 2 – case studies = £23
- Driver CPC part 3 – driving ability = £115 (£141 on evenings, weekends and bank holidays)
- Driver CPC part 3 – practical demonstration = £55 (£63 on evenings, weekends and bank holidays)
- Driver CPC card (non-UK driving licences only) = £25 (£25 to replace the card if lost, damaged or stolen)
- National Vocational Training (NVT) concession card = £25
Are you ready to get your HGV licence?
Being an HGV driver isn’t a role for everyone. HGV drivers must be strict with road safety, avoid bad driving habits and it can be a job with long, solitary hours, with less opportunity to exercise and socialise than you may have in an average job. However, it is a fulfilling profession with a good, scalable wage that allows you to see more of the country you live in. There won’t be a shortage of work and it will be a role of variety with different destinations most days.
In this blog from Jobsite Worklife, HGV drivers list their reasons for loving their career. John Pinchbeck, a driver for TNT, says: “The part of the job that I enjoy the most is the relationship with customers that I work with on a day-by-day basis. I see them all the time, I can have a laugh with them and we can talk about football and anything and everything.”
Rachel, who got her licence at 23, says: “Being on the road first thing with a beautiful sunrise is brilliant! I was working in a warehouse before I became a driver but I really wanted a change. I love driving and thought that it would be something I’d like to pursue as a career.”
If you’re interested in becoming an HGV driver, apply for your provisional HGV licence here. If your career has already started or your preparing to start your first driving job, you can also find some tips on how to stay active and healthy on the road and the top truckstops in the UK in our blog.
If you are considering or already have a career in HGV driving, it is a legal requirement that you drive with a tachograph. Our SE5000 Exakt Duo2 has a wealth of driver friendly features, such as Working Time Directive calculations, Duo Technology, that displays real-time updates on driving and rest time and handy warnings to help keep you in line with the Drivers Hours’ regulations. All this allows you, to stay legal, reduce infringements and costly fines and allows fleet managers to get their team to work faster and more efficiently. Find out more on the SE5000 Exakt Duo2 Digital Tachograph here.