How to Become an HGV Driver
It can seem a very romantic job. Roaring through endless highways, a lone driver keeps a night-time vigil. Kind of the whole ‘lone wolf’ scenario, and in truth there are a good number of heavy goods drivers who wouldn’t trade the freedom of the open road for anything else. If becoming an HGV driver is something you’ve thought long and hard about, then here are the key steps you will have to take on your way…
Stating the obvious first and foremost, you will need to pass a standard driving test. If you are considering becoming an HGV driver then chances are you have been driving for some time, but just in case there are people new to the whole system, you will have to pass your driving theory and practical exams and be driving for 2 years before you can take steps towards an HGV licence
Once you have been a qualified driver for 2 years you will be able to start training for an HGV licence. The system works almost identically to obtaining a standard driving license in that you will have to apply for a provisional license, take several lessons and pass a theory and practical exam.
In this case however, you will be working through 2 separate steps. Obtaining the HGV2 license and then if required the HGV1 license. The difference in these is the weight allowance (HGV1 being the heavier). As a result you will effectively be doing 2 separate courses. Furthermore you will have to be driving with an HGV2 license for 2 years before you can sit the HGV1.
When you are sitting the tests it is important to bear in mind that the theory is very different from that of a standard test. The HGV theory exams require an intimate understanding of weights and dimensions, proper vehicle leading, driver hour’s regulations and rest periods and correct methods of dealing with accidents. All in all providing a far more comprehensive and challenging examination.
While this may not be essential in many cases, you can vastly boost your employment prospects by acquiring other related licenses and skills. Loading and unloading is an essential part of the theory test for a reason and being able to utilise important mechanisms and machinery will put you in good stead in the job market.
A Fork Lift license can be extremely useful and full training on certain lifting equipment, HIABs and hydraulic cranes is always beneficial in expanding your credentials and job prospects.
Even though at this point you will have already been through a great deal of training, you will still almost certainly have to wait even longer, as most companies require at least 2 years previous working experience.
As a result it is likely that during the early stages of your career, you will be forced to find work through agencies. The pay is significantly lower but it is effectively a required step on your way to the big leagues.
It’s No Picnic
With all of this training you might be expecting a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, but in reality it’s a hard graft of a job. Extremely long hours and early morning starts (often from 4am) can make this tiring work.
That said, for some this does truly turn out to be the ideal job. Some will take to long-haul HGV driving like a duck to water and never look back. Nothing good ever comes easy, so if you strive to put in the hard work then maybe this is the ideal job for you.
George Rhodes was previously an HGV driver. He now works as a consultant for a mini fleet insurance firm.