How to become a Class 1 HGV Driver - A truck on an open motorway

How to become a Class 1 HGV Driver?

Overview

Job Role Class 1 HGV Driver (aka: Large Goods Vehicle (LGV) Driver)
Responsibilities Transporting goods from supplier to customer or client. 
Salary

£9 - £15 per hour / £31,787 per year

Required Qualifications

Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) card
Category E driving license 


What do I have to do to become a Class 1 HGV Driver? 

A heavy goods vehicle (HGV) driver, also known as large goods vehicle driver, is someone who is qualified to operate a truck or lorry over 3,500kg. The main responsibility of HGV drivers is transporting goods from a supplier to the customer or client.

Haulage and logistics is the fifth largest industry employing people in the UK; this means there are plenty of opportunities out there for qualified class 1 HGV drivers. There are also companies based all over the country, so you won’t have to move to find work if you don’t wish to.

Lorry driving is a great career to jump into if you have just left education, have been made redundant in another industry, or are looking to try something new. Although there are strict steps you must take to become a certified class 1 HGV driver, if you’re determined it can be done in less than a month. There are also licence application fees you have to pay, which are all outlined below.

To guide you through the licence process, you will find plenty of specialist companies who provide the full service. For a fee, they will do all the administration, book your tests and help get your first job as a class 1 HGV driver. But before you hand over your money, think about the pros of paying someone to do the legwork to get your licence, versus saving that money and doing it yourself. If you decide to do it yourself, all of the information you need is on the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) website, and explained below.

The average salary for a Class 1 HGV driver in the UK is around £31,787, according to totaljobs.co.uk, or you may get paid by the hour; this could be between £9 and £15 per hour, but can vary greatly between employers.

There are strict rules on the number of hours you can work as a professional goods driver, which you can read in detail here. It is up to your employer to make sure you don’t work over time, but in general you can’t work more than nine hours in a day, 56 hours in a week, or 90 hours in any two consecutive weeks. One benefit of working as a class 1 driver is that the long haul journeys can mean you work for three or four days, followed by a few days off. All drivers of HGVs must record their hours on a time sheet, or a tachograph – a device fitted to your vehicle that automatically tracks your speed and distance travelled.

There are different levels of HGV drivers, but all require you to have a Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) card. This allows you to drive category C vehicles, which are any HGV with a trailer having a maximum authorised mass of up to 750 kilograms. The class 1 HGV driver is allowed to drive category C and E vehicles. This additional category allows a larger trailer, and so involves an extra test, but it also means you can earn a higher salary or hourly rate, and are more employable.

Before setting off on the drive, your daily duties as a class 1 HGV driver will often involve checking the route you’re about to take, and loading or supervising the loading of goods onto your vehicle. There will also be paperwork to do before and after drop off, and you may have to talk to clients or customers to discuss delivery times. You will also be responsible for checking your vehicle for safety and ensuring maintenance issues are resolved.

Steps to obtain a Class 1 HGV licence

Step 1: Obtain a car driving licence 

There are a few hoops to jump through before you can get on the road as a HGV driver, but don’t let this hold you back. You also must be over the age of 18. If you don’t already have a car driving licence, to get one you need to apply for a provisional car driving licence from the government’s Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA). This will enable you to take driving lessons from an instructor or qualified driver who holds a full driving licence. To get your full car driving licence, you need to pass a computer-based theory test, and a practical test at registered centre. All of the information you need about driving a car in the UK can be found on this section of the government’s website.

Step 2: Apply for a provisional lorry licence 

Once you have your full car driving licence, then first stage of becoming a HGV driver is to apply for a provisional lorry licence. Similarly to the car driving licence, this is done through the DVLA website. This time, you require one of the forms, which is called D4, to be filled in by a registered doctor. This is because drivers of lorries must be in reasonably good health. Be aware that you will have to either pay a private company to do the medical assessment and complete the form, or for your local GP’s time required to complete the form for you. The areas that will be assessed include your eyesight, any neurological and heart conditions, mental health, alcohol and drug use, diabetes and sleep disorders. According to the Road Haulage Association, costs for this can range from £50 to £120, so they advise you to shop around.

You must send this medical assessment (D4) to the DVLA along with form D2, which you have completed yourself, along with your photocard driving licence. The DVLA will then assess whether you are fit to drive a large vehicle, and then process your application and provisional lorry licence. Make sure you’ve filled in all of the correct details; if there is missing or incorrect information this will delay getting your provisional licence. You should receive it within three weeks of the DVLA receiving your application.

Step 3: Take the Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) test

The next step is a four-part theory test called the Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC). You need the full driver CPC if lorry driving is the main part of your profession. You can read about all of the four driver CPC tests here, and how to book each of them through the DVLA website.

When going for the tests, make sure you take all of the required documents with you; otherwise, you can’t take the tests, and will have to pay again to rebook. Just like the car driving tests, it’s essential to prepare for your driver CPC tests. There are lots of learning tools available, which explain each theory test, and allow you to do practice questions. Start by reading all of the information the DVLA provides. The tests follow a similar format to the driving licence theory test but are longer and more extensive. Once you have booked and passed the theory tests, you will need to then find a good training provider to prepare you for the practical tests. The total cost for the driver CPC tests is £230 using the official service; this doesn’t include practical lessons or tuition.

Jake Preston, a transport administrator at Prestons of Potto in North Yorkshire, passed his driver CPC aged 19, and shares his advice: “Try to approach the process with a positive attitude and an open mind; this will make it more enjoyable, while maximising your development as a professional operator. A lot of drivers feel it’s a box-ticking exercise, where examiners are trying to tell experienced drivers how their job should be done. In reality, the programme ensures that best working practices are applied throughout the industry, which can only be beneficial to everybody.”

Once you’ve passed all parts of the driver CPC you’ll be sent a card, which you must carry at all times when driving a lorry professionally. In order to keep your driver CPC, you must take 35 hours of driver CPC training every five years to stay qualified. All of the information you need about becoming a qualified lorry driver in the UK can be found on this section of the government’s website.

Step 4: Take the Category E practical test

Now you’re a qualified class 2 HGV driver who is qualified to drive category C vehicles. But to become a class 1 driver, you must pass one more practical test, which adds category E to your licence. One of the benefits of going straight in to becoming a class 1 driver is that it shows your committed and driven. If you’re new to the field or have little experience, it will show employers that you’re hard-working and responsible. Some training providers let you do back-to-back training for categories C+E.

Applying for jobs

After successfully passing your full lorry driving licence, it’s time to start looking for jobs. You will find class 1 HGV driver vacancies on specialist jobs boards, and online on the careers page of companies’ websites. Make sure you read the full job description when writing your application and arrive a little early to your interview.

The types of people who make excellent class 1 HGV drivers are calm and confident on the road. You’ll need to have patience when driving, and be good at solving problems when they arise. This could include unforeseen traffic, restrictions on heavy loads, frustrating roads users or even a petrol station being unexpectedly closed. Be prepared for long hours and early starts. You will also need to be happy to work by yourself for much of the shift, and not needing someone regularly checking in on you. Being focused and having good concentration skills are also vital, to avoid road accidents and ensure you don’t get lost.

If you’re hard-working and career focused, there are lots of opportunities for progression in this industry. Jake Preston notes that although being a HGV driver can become a way of life for some, if you want more regular hours then you could look at progressing to an office-based job in the industry. “This is why some drivers retrain to become a traffic manager, who manages customer orders, and a fleet of vehicles and drivers, so that collections and deliveries can be fulfilled. Skills gained through driving are highly beneficial to this type of role, including strong understanding of the geography, knowledge of driving laws, and realistic expectation of driver performance,” he explains.

Working as a class 1 HGV driver is a great job if you enjoy getting the job done and aren’t interested in office politics. The shift work can offer you flexible working patterns, meaning you can line up more than two days off in a row without using your annual leave. It can also offer the opportunity to drive abroad, or move around the country.

Browse the latest class 1 HGV driver jobs

Contact your local branch

Problem: BE2BD180.180924090841.ARM-SCPRODCD-G2.1.0.6807.39355)