Tue, April 04, 2023
How To Get A Job As An HGV Driver
Making a fresh start
So you finally managed to pass your HGV driving test and now ready to offer your services to
operators as a professional HGV lorry driver.
You’ve made it through the medical, theories, CPC and even the driving part. Well done to you
for getting this far. Now some may say the hard work begins, i.e. finding that first start.
Getting a job is a job in itself and this certainly applies to HGV driving jobs, especially with little or no experience.
Here we look at the current HGV jobs market and what realistic rates of pay you should be seeking, especially for those newly qualified commercial HGV drivers.
Is there an HGV Driver shortage?
The short answer to this is yes. In fact, since trucks were invented, the industry has always lacked
enough people willing to drive them.
To lesser or higher extent that situation has always been with us. If you recall the most recent driver
shortage occurred just after the pandemic. A combination of no HGV driving tests carried out for 12
months, Brexit and an already short labour force made the shortage a chronic one.
Things were so bad that the supermarkets were half stocked and there were not enough HGV drivers
to deliver fuel to forecourts.
As a result HGV drivers both new and experienced were in huge demand. At that time those newly
qualified drivers seeking employment were pretty much guaranteed a start once they passed all
their tests. Wages were also increased greatly to both attract new employees and retain their
existing workforce. All in all, it was a very good time to get learning and earning.
18 months after that chronic shortage and things have certainly settled down as far as employment
prospects go for new drivers. There is a still a demand however nowhere near what is was post pandemic.
Today (April 2023) the market for new drivers is OK and employers are taking on drivers however
they seem to be taking on those with experience.
The reason being there are more experienced drivers available on the market.
Experience has always
been an issue but let’s be honest no one was born with 2 years HGV driving experience. At some point every lorry driver started a job with no previous truck driving experience. It goes to show that there are opportunities for new entrants.
You will have to work harder to find a start as a lorry driver compared to someone who does have the experience.
That being said there are plenty of conscientious employers who are more interested in employing newly qualified drivers with the right attitude and aptitude rather than taking someone on with 2 years’ experience yet lacks the right attitude and aptitude.
How to get that first HGV driving job
Initially we encourage new entrants to create a CV that is geared up purely for HGV driving jobs. It
should show the fact you invested your own time and money in gaining the HGV, getting your
Driver CPC and acquiring your digital tachograph. Emphasize the fact you have no penalty points and have had a clean licence for many years and that your ambition has always been to drive HGV. That will be a good start. Also, any experience you have had driving should be added. For example, you may have driven 3.5 tonne type vehicle at a previous job. Anything that could be of interest and useful to a commercial transport company.
Once you have produced a CV the next step is to get it in front of as many potential employers as possible. This is a numbers game. The more jobs you apply for the more opportunities of getting a start you will have. It’s also worth sending your CV to as many employment agencies as possible as agency work has always been seen as a good way to get experience. Just be wary as there are many HGV employment agencies and some are definitely better than others, so do your research. We find Best Connections are a very good recruiter too deal with.
Another idea is to visit some local trading estates. You will no doubt find several transport companies that trade from those locations.
Finally another option is to get on the phone and start making some enquiries. Speak to the companies HR department and try and get your CV seen by them.
Once you have secured an interview and the employer is keen on taking you on, chances are very high you will be required to undergo a driving assessment. This will normally be conducted on the potential employer’s vehicle and carried out by a qualified driving assessor. You will need to take your driving licence, Driver CPC card and Digi card with you for the assessment. You may also be required to complete a theory examination but don't worry about that too much as you should have remembered quite a lot from studying for your Multiple Choice theory test.
The assessor will no doubt check your licence, get you to do a walk round check and possibly to an
eyesight check. A practical on the road drive will then be administered covering varying road and last about 1 hour. You will need to be able to operate the digital tachograph so make sure you bring your Digi card with you.
HGV Driving Assessment
You will find the driving assessment standard is very comparable to the HGV driving test you passed in order to gain your driving licence.
For cat C, class 2, rigid type vehicles, as long as you keep the same mindset and procedures as your
driving test and you will be fine.
For a class 1 (CE), artic driving assessment the same applies as the driving test however you will be required to reverse into a simulated loading bay. Please remember that when you underwent tuition to pass the reverse test (3a) it was a set layout, and you were taught just to carry out one specific
manoeuvre. At no point did your training school teach you how to reverse that artic any other way that to pass the 3b reverse test, i.e., reverse in an S shape and stop in the simulated loading bay. Here lies the problem with all this. Newly qualified drivers may have a licence to drive however they are still lacking essential skills and knowledge to, for example reverse park in any situation. If you are going for a class 1 position and a driver assessment is needed it may be advisable to contact your local training company and arrange some extra tuition.
Once the assessment is over and subject to satisfying the assessor you’re on your way to starting your career.
How much do new HGV drivers earn?
This is the big question that nearly every potential lorry driver wants to know even before they start attaining their HGV entitlement.
You will see on HGV training brokers websites and media posts that you can earn £70K a year as a truck driver.
It is extremely rare that you will find any HGV driving job that pays that sort of money. It a misleading and incorrect figure and careers should not be based upon this.
Money is good and above the UK average which is currently approximately £30K per year. It can vary, but not by a great amount.between classes of HGV. Here we look at average wages for each category.
- C1, 7.5 tonnes.
This C1 category is the smallest type of HGV available. Technically it’s classed as a Medium Goods Vehicle (MGV). This type of category covers goods vehicles over 3.5 tonnes but does NOT exceed 7.5 tonnes GVW. Persons who pass their car test before 01.01.1997 will have 7.5 tonnes via grandfather rights. You can always start your HGV career passing in a C1 however we advise you skip this category and go straight to class 2 or 1.
Salary is still pretty good considering and a ballpark figure for renumeration should be between £25K and £33K.
- Cat C, Class 2, Rigid.
This is by the most common form of truck on the UK’s highways. More than two thirds of all HGV’s are rigid type trucks and NOT the artic (CE). Having cat C will allow you to also drive C1 vehicles. If you are looking to get into driving trucks for a living, then we recommend you go for the cat C and not the CE. To be fair most employers prefer to take people on who got the class 2 before the class 1. They just prefer the experience of employing someone who actually went through the stages rather than straight to class 1.
A rigid HGV / LGV cat C licence allows the holder to drive any goods vehicle with an MGW over 3.5 tonnes yet not exceeding 32 tonnes. Under Construction and Use Regulations (C and U reg) it is not possible to get trucks made bigger than this.
For cat C wages you should be looking for renumeration in the region of £28K - £42K
- Cat CE, Class 1 Artic.
The government allowed, from November 2021, the chance to go straight to the class 1 test without having already passed the class 2. As a result, there has been an influx of those wishing to skip the cat C and head straight on to the artic. There is no problem with this and ultimately you do have the choice to go straight to CE. However, it is extremely challenging and first-time pass rates are nowhere near as good as first time class 2 rates. We still recommend that new entrants complete the class 2 first and then proceed to class 1 as it will give them better experience. Having passed class 1 will allow the holder to drive any type and combination of HGV including C1, C1E, C and CE.
Therefore, having CE will allow you to apply for any job in any type of truck.
Salary expectations for class 1 drivers can vary between £28K - £55K.
The above pay rates should be used as a rough guide only.
If you are entering the industry for the first time you may well have to consider reducing your rate in order to gain the required experience. Not only will it make you more marketable to a potential employer, but you will more than likely get that first start. In this instance once you have been with the company for 3-6 months and gained some vital experience you will be in a better position to request a wage review and seek the same rates as your fellow drivers.
We hope this will give you a clearer idea into how to prepare yourself for when having passed your test and are looking for gainful employment.