How to become a Class 2 HGV Driver, Male truck driver with foot on truck step, talking to another male about an order.

How to become a Class 2 HGV Driver?

Overview

Job Role Class 2 HGV Driver (aka: Large Goods Vehicle (LGV) Driver)
Responsibilities Transporting goods from supplier to customer or client.
Salary

£8 - £12 per hour / £24,449 per year

Required Qualifications

Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) card


What do I have to do to become a Class 2 HGV Driver?

A heavy goods vehicle (HGV) driver, also known as large goods vehicle (LGV) driver, is someone who is qualified to operate a truck or lorry over 3,500kg. HGV drivers are responsible for transporting loads from a supplier to the customer or client. It’s a great career if you have just left school or college. Or maybe you’ve been made redundant in another industry or are looking for a new challenge. With enough hard work and determination to pass the theory and practical tests required, you could be on the road in your first HGV driver role in less than a month.

Around 2.54 million people work in the haulage and logistics industry, and it’s the UK’s fifth largest employer. This means there are lots of opportunities out there for lorry drivers, as they are high in demand. And, there are haulage companies based throughout the UK so finding a company that’s close to your home won’t be a problem.

There are different categories that can be added to your car driving licence which mean you’re able to drive HGVs. The most popular is class 2, which allows you to drive category C vehicles. These are any HGV with a trailer that has a maximum authorised mass of up to 750 kilograms. The step up from this is class 1, which allows you to in addition drive HGVs with a larger trailer (category E).

The average salary for a class 2 HGV driver in the UK is around £24,449, according to totaljobs.com. You may, however, get paid by the hour, which can vary greatly from around £8 an hour to £12. 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 your employer’s responsibility to follow these rules. But, as a general rule, you cannot work more than 9 hours in a day, 56 hours in a week or 90 hours in any two consecutive weeks. All drivers of HGVs must record their hours on a record sheet or a tachograph – a device that automatically tracks your speed and distance travelled.

Your day-to-day duties as a class 2 HGV driver will usually involve loading and securing your vehicle with goods. You will also have to check routes for safety restrictions, planned road works and traffic to ensure your journey will be smooth and efficient. There will be paperwork to do about the jobs you complete, problems occurred and vehicle maintenance to do. Other aspects of the job may involve liaising with customers about delivery times and working with other drivers on longer routes or more complex jobs.

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. 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 2 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.

Steps to obtain a Class 2 HGV Licence

Step 1: Obtain a car driving licence

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 four part 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 tutorage.

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.

Applying for jobs

When your coveted driver CPC card comes through, it’s time for a little celebration for all your hard work, followed by some job applications. Vacancies are usually posted on the career page of a company’s website or on specialist job boards. You can used the search criteria to find opportunities near you, or if there are specific companies you are interested in working for then you could approach them directly about work.

When applying for your first class 2 HGV driver jobs, make sure you explain why you want the job and why you’d be an asset to their team of drivers. If you have relevant experience, be sure to highlight that as well. And, of course, remember to include details and copies of all of your certificates and licences.

The types of people who do well in this type of role are self-motivated and happy to work by themselves for much of the shift. You’ll need to be a patient driver and good at solving problems if they arise. Good concentration skills are also important to avoid road accidents and ensure you’re on the correct route.

Jake Preston adds: “Being a HGV driver is a very challenging role. At times it can be stressful, which is heightened by unpredictable events such as road closures or adverse weather. In light of this, a driver who is level-headed and approachable will find it easier to work alongside their managers and customers. Drivers must also be highly professional in all situations, as they are the interface between the haulage company and their clients.”

There are great opportunities for career progression as a HGV driver. As your experience increases so should your pay and responsibilities. It’s also possible to add more categories to your licence, such as category E which, combined with the category C you have already, means you can work as a class 1 HGV driver. This step up will mean a higher salary, and that you’re even more employable as you can drive a wider range of vehicles and work abroad.

One of the best things about being a qualified class 2 HGV driver is that there are lots of opportunities out there so you should find a job in no time. With a clear path for progression and promotions you’ll also be able to move up the ladder if that’s one of your goals. If you love working side-by-side with colleagues or don’t like early starts then this sort of work may not be for you. It is also a role that can impact on your work-life balance, and unexpected delays may mean your shift doesn’t always finish on time.

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