Is Being an HGV Driver Worth It?

There are very few career paths nowadays that offer immediate employment after training, and don’t require a degree level qualification. But you know what? HGV driving is one of the few careers that you can qualify for within a matter of weeks, and all you need is to be 18 years of age and hold a full car driving licence. What’s more, you’ll be guaranteed of employment at the end of training. This makes HGV driving an enticing career prospect, not just for those starting out on their careers, but also those looking to change careers. Indeed, compared with a degree that will set you back nearly £30,000 in tuition fees alone, you can qualify as a Category C driver for a fraction of the cost.

But is it worth it? We definitely believe so, and here are the reasons why:

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Career diversity

This is our number one reason for choosing the profession. As an HGV driver, you’ll be qualified to drive commercially across many industry sectors, including consumer goods and retail, healthcare, construction, manufacturing and engineering. The type of licence you gain will open the door to different job opportunities. For example, the Category C1 licence will qualify you to drive ambulances and medium-sized goods vehicles, while the Category C+E licence will open the door to driving the biggest articulated lorries on our roads today. You’ll be able to drive locally, nationally or internationally, depending on the type of work you’re looking for. 

Here’s a breakdown of the licence categories:

  • Category C1 – this entry level licence allows you to drive rigid vehicles that weigh between 3,500kg and 7,500kg MAM, with a trailer that weighs up to 750kg. 
  • Category C1+E – this is an entitlement that’s added to your C1 licence. It allows you to drive C1 vehicles with a trailer that weighs over 750kg (but the combined weight must not exceed 12,000kg).
  • Category C – also referred to as Class 2, the Category C licence allows you to drive rigid body vehicles (where the cab is permanently attached to the trailer). It permits you to drive vehicles that are over 3,500 kg in weight, but under 32 tonnes, with trailers of up to 750kg MAM.
  • Category C+E – also referred to as Class 1, the Cat C+E licence allows you to drive a vehicle weighing over 3,500 kg with a detachable trailer that’s over 750 kg. This licence gives you access to fully articulated lorries (artics) and drawbar vehicles. The maximum weight you can haul with this licence is 44 tonnes.

Job security

When choosing to train for a career, one of the most important aspects to consider is whether there will be a job at the end of it. 

For HGV driving, the jobs are definitely there. In fact, the haulage industry is experiencing a massive shortfall of drivers. Industry figures estimate this to be 45,000-50,000 drivers, but in a news report in 2020, ITV indicated that this figure is as high as 76,000. All of this means that there are excellent job prospects for new and existing drivers, as well as great job security once you’ve secured a position.

Earning potential

This is another reason so many are attracted to the profession. Entry level positions will vary, as there’s such a wide spectrum of employment available within each licence category. However, you can expect to earn a minimum of £19,000 per year, rising to £22,000 per year for Cat C1 drivers. Cat C licence holders can earn up to £32,000 per year, while Cat C+E drivers can expect earnings of up to £42,000 per annum. 

Autonomy and independence

Ah, the freedom of the open road. This is why so many love the idea of becoming an HGV driver. If you enjoy driving, like seeing new places and are happy in your own company then you should definitely consider gaining your HGV licence and embarking on this career path. The type of work you can do is so varied, you don’t actually have to spend long days away from home. Some love this freedom, but equally some HGV drivers like to work to a fixed schedule that keeps them close to home. The long haul lifestyle isn’t for everyone, but don’t be put off if this is you. There really are many employment paths you can follow, depending on the work-life balance you crave. Also, and this is one of the most appealing aspects of driving for a living, you won’t be chained to a desk, sat in a tiny dark cubicle for the rest of your working life!

Career prospects

Once you start out on this career path, the sky (or rather the open road) is really the limit! You can start with your C1 licence and work locally, moving up to your full C+E licence and join the kings of the road, driving nationally and internationally. Or go straight for the combined Category C and Category C+E licences, studying for each qualification back-to-back. This will fast track you to driving the biggest artics and rigid lorries seen on our roads today. 

Even once you’ve gained the highest C+E licence, you can add on speciality training. This includes ADR, which is a specialist certificate that allows you to transport hazardous goods in tankers.  There’s also HIAB training, which qualifies you to drive and operate a lorry-mounted crane. These qualifications can be gained within days and will not only improve employment options, but will also boost your earning power. 

Overseas opportunities

Finally, obtaining your HGV licence will open up career opportunities around the world. UK HGV licence requirements are respected the world over, and many countries actively seek out UK HGV drivers. These relocation packages can ultimately lead to permanent residency and citizenship overseas. Many of us dream of making this change. Well, with an HGV licence you can make it happen.

We hope this article has helped you see that being an HGV driver is definitely worth it. Yes, the routine of long haul driving might not suit everyone, spending nights away from home. But for some, it’s a great lifestyle and suits their home lives perfectly. You may be away for longer periods, but you’re also at home for longer stretches too. It’s not only a rewarding career with excellent job security, but there are also great career prospects, with the opportunity to be your own boss, or even relocate to sunnier climes. If you’re interested in training to be an HGV driver then we have a wealth of information on our website, and can direct you to some great training providers that are local to you.