HGV industry experts share their knowledge on how to kickstart a career in HGV.
When it comes to deciding on the career you want, it might be a dream you have since you were five years old or something that you only settle on later in life. Starting a career as an HGV driver is something that appeals to many, and it has some fantastic elements to it that can make it not just a job, but a way of life too.
There are different types of driving jobs available that will allow you to fulfil your dreams, and it can be an exciting career that offers freedom and responsibility. It is a job that needs to be taken seriously but is enjoyable for a great many reasons. Here we explore what you need to become an HGV driver and what you will need to keep in mind in order to help your career to progress.
Why be an HGV driver?
Whatever kind of world we live in, goods will always need to be moved from one place to another, which means there is always a demand for skilled HGV drivers. Not only that, but you can also enjoy a degree of job security knowing that this is one role that cannot yet be replaced by advanced forms of technology. It is the perfect role for someone who doesn’t want to be tied to a desk or a 9-5 role, giving you the flexibility to work the hours that fit in with your lifestyle best.
The demand for HGV drivers means that there are healthy wages available. With starting salaries of £20,000 for newly qualified drivers, and annual incomes in excess of £30,000 for more experienced drivers, this is a career that can pay dividends. Many companies also have loyalty schemes and bonuses available which can increase your earning potential even further.
If you love to travel, then driving is the perfect way to indulge your passion and get paid for doing it. Every route is different and will take you to all areas of the country. In some cases, you may also be required to travel through Europe, giving you the chance to explore countries you would never normally have visited. Of course, having some good geographical knowledge is going to be important, so make sure your map reading skills are on top form!
It might seem obvious but having a love of driving is essential to becoming an HGV driver. Negotiating different types of roads, seeing the country and eve sitting in traffic are all huge parts of the job and it’s important that you are happy to embrace them all.
However, it is not as simple as just jumping into a cab and starting the ignition. You will need to pass the essential HGV training in order to become a licensed HGV driver, and this requires a good level of skill. To do so, you will need first need a normal driving licence, and need to be a least 18 years of age. You will then need to undertake specialist HGV driving lessons and pass a test, in the same way that you did with your standard car licence.
There are different categories of HGV vehicles which are normally based around the size and weight of the vehicle, so you should identify whether there are any that you favour or prefer not to drive, as this will narrow your search for jobs. Getting experience with as many categories as possible will improve your prospects of getting a job as it widens the number of opportunities.
In this job, your driving license is a prized possession, so you need to look after it. That means keeping it free of speeding points and other driving offences so that operators are able to trust that their deliveries will be made safely and without a problem.
There are different levels of training available to HGV drivers, and the more you have, the more employable you will become. Continuing to update your skills will show that you are a safe driver, a conscientious driver and one that can command a higher wage packet.
Other essential HGV skills
Employers are not just looking for someone who can drive; they need someone that they can trust and rely on. They need to know that you will be where you are supposed to be, when you are supposed to be there, as their business depends on it. There are a lot of rules and regulations that govern the haulage industry and employers need to know that they can trust you to adhere to them all, even though most of your working hours will be spent unsupervised.
As an HGV driver, you could be responsible for a vehicle that weighs up to 40 tonnes and therefore safety has to be at the forefront of your mind at all times. That means that you need to make sure that you do not get into bad habits that could lead to an accident or near miss as the lives of other road users are at stake.
Communication is another important skill that an HGV driver will need to demonstrate. Whilst you may be alone in the cab, you will need to keep your supervisor and client up to date on your progress, potential delays and the route you intend to use. Keeping both your employer and your customer happy is always crucial and will ensure good working relationships and help to instil that all-important sense of trust.
Time keeping is also a vital factor that ever driver needs to be on top of. You will be given deadlines and you will be expected to meet them without compromising on safety. That means planning the best route, being realistic and keeping on top of any delays ahead of you.
A career as an HGV driver can be a rewarding and enjoyable one, that will help you to indulge your interests, work around your family and hobbies and allows you to see a little more of the world.
About the Author:
This article was contributed by Emma Tyrer, the Head of Sales and Marketing at Fleet Ex who specialise in quality end of lease trucks and ex-fleet trailers and are global leaders in the trucking industry.