Driving is not widely seen as a top career choice, yet it is an extremely resilient industry where during and following the COVID-19 pandemic, driving jobs have provided consistent work and a stable income. Whether you are just starting out or are a qualified driver looking for LGV/HGV jobs, here we explore why driving can make a great career.
Ongoing demand for driving jobs
From producer or manufacturer to consumer, everything we eat, drink, wear and use in our daily life is dependent on road transportation. It accounts for 89% of all goods transported by land and consequently is the fifth largest employment sector in the U.K.
Thanks to the increasing use of online shopping, the overall demand for delivery and LGV/HGV Drivers in September 2020 exceeded that of September 2019 by 19%
However, the recent Freight Transport Association (FTA) Skills report shows that during the second quarter of 2020, there were 20,500 fewer HGV drivers in the UK, a reduction of 6.7% compared to the same period a year earlier. The result of this is that the demand is high for drivers across all licence levels, particularly in more skilled roles such as LGV/HGV driving jobs.
What types of driving jobs are there to choose from?
A driving career is an excellent choice for proficient drivers. Many van driving jobs only require you to have a car driving licence, which allows you to drive vehicles up to 3.5 tonnes (Category B).
- Delivery Driver or Van Driver - responsible for collecting and loading goods from a warehouse or collection point and delivering them to the customer or client. Find out how to become a Delivery Driver here.
- Final Mile Courier - responsible for the final stage in the delivery process from collection point to customer, often involving multi-drop delivery to many addresses. Find out more here.
If you can find Government funding support or are able to invest some time and money you can progress from van driving jobs to train as a LGV/HGV Driver. The process involves getting your provisional lorry licence, sitting a theory test, getting your Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) and taking the relevant practical test. It is also a legal requirement to be in good health to operate commercial vehicles on a public road, so a medical examination must be passed. Find out more about Driver responsibilities here.
Working in LGV/HGV jobs is a career choice that comes with responsibilities, including loading and securing goods, vehicle safety checks, vehicle maintenance, planning routes, liaising with customers and completing paperwork to support safety compliance checks and/or audit trails of stock collection and receipt.
There are various different categories of Heavy Goods Vehicle (HGV) licences, now also referred to as Large Goods Vehicle (LGV) licences.
- LGV C1 Driver - drive vehicles weighing up to 7.5 tonnes. If you got your car licence before 1997 this should be included.
- LGV Cat C Driver - drive rigid vehicles weighing over 7.5 tonnes with trailers weighing up to 750kg.
- LGV Cat C+E Driver - drive articulated vehicles weighing over 7.5 tonnes with trailers weighing over 750kg.
To learn more, see our handy Commercial Driving Licences Explained infographic.
The earning potential of driving jobs
Van driving jobs have seen a rise of 5% in pay for temporary positions, with average rates at £10.26 per hour. For permanent jobs, average pay rates are £10.98 per hour, an increase of 14.5%.
For LGV/HGV jobs across all categories there has also been a 5% increase in pay for temporary roles, with average rates at £12.58 per hour. For permanent LGV/HGV jobs, average pay rates are £12.52, an increase of 7%.
When compared to other sectors, driving jobs have much better pay rates. For example, at £8.94 an hour, the average permanent pay rate in retail is just above the National Minimum Wage at £8.91 per hour for those aged 23 years and over. If your previous experience is in the retail sector, this is a good time to make a change into a more stable and resilient career choice. You will already have good communication skills and customer service experience and will be proven as trustworthy, diligent and able to take the initiative in your workday. These are all good skills to have when working as a Driver.
Experience can play a big role in your earning potential, and you may also get paid extra for nights away from home. As you progress in your driving career you could also consider getting a certificate or licence to become a Tanker or Oversize Load Driver. These specialist HGV jobs can demand better money but do require a lot of skill and knowledge.
Busting some common myths about driving jobs
For those unfamiliar with the driving industry, there may be some concerns about what the job involves and future prospects. A recent survey of 315 people currently working in driving revealed the following interesting responses:
- Physical activity for driving roles is varied. Not all driving jobs mean you will be sitting in a vehicle all day. Some roles require you to be involved in the loading and unloading of items and if you are a Multi-Drop Driver, you must be prepared to get in and out of the van multiple times during your shift. Other roles require minimal physical activity where larger goods are loaded on to and off of the vehicle for you by warehouse staff.
- Driving is family friendly. Some LGV/HGV jobs may involve travelling long-haul and overnight stays, but this is not the case for most driving roles which stay within a local area or involve a return to a local distribution point at the end of a single-day return trip.
- Automated trucks are not taking jobs. Autonomous truck technology is intended to complement the efforts of drivers and assist in their day-to-day work, not replace them. The cost of the technology to support driverless trucks, let alone the associated safety considerations at this moment in time, make driverless trucks more of a concept than a short-term possibility.
- Working hours are flexible. Driving jobs can be much more flexible than people think. It is not always long periods of travel. The driving sector is subject to strict safety regulations including legal limits on driving hours, shift patterns and rest breaks, as seen on our infographic here.
Whichever driving job you choose you can be sure of a competitive salary, flexible shifts, independence to work in your own space and clear career development prospects.
If you still have questions about driving jobs, check out our Driving FAQ page here.
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- Current Top Industry Issues | RHA Road Haulage Association. 2021. Current Top Industry Issues | RHA Road Haulage Association. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.rha.uk.net/policy-campaigning/top-industry-issues/haulage-industry. [Accessed April 2021].
- Skills and Employment Report 2020. 2021. Skills and Employment Report 2020 . [ONLINE] Available at: https://logistics.org.uk/campaigns/forms/skills-and-employment-report-download-form. [Accessed April 2021].