Large goods vehicle (LGV) drivers, also known as HGV drivers, transport and deliver goods between suppliers and customers. They work from depots, distribution centres and warehouses, and carry goods all over the UK and overseas.
As an LGV driver, you would drive commercial vehicles over 7.5 tonnes, including rigid trucks, articulated lorries, tankers, transporters and trailer wagons.
Apart from driving, your duties would include:
- planning delivery schedules and routes with transport managers
- supervising or helping to load and unload goods
- making sure loads are safely secured
- following traffic reports and changing your route if necessary
- completing delivery paperwork and log books.
You may also deal with routine maintenance, such as oil, tyre and brake checks before and after journeys.
You would normally work an average of 42 hours a week. Overtime may be available, however, there are strict laws about the amount of hours you can spend driving between rest breaks.
You could spend a lot of time away from home, including overnight stays where necessary.
Most of your time would be spent on the road, and you would drive day and night, in all weather conditions.
- Starting salaries can be around £17,000 a year
- The average wage is £25,000
- Drivers of specialist fuel and chemical tankers can earn up to £35,000 a year.
Overtime can increase earnings and there is a tax-free allowance to pay for overnight expenses.
Figures are intended as a guideline only.
To become an LGV driver you must have a valid LGV licence. To get this, you need to:
- be competent in English and maths (to take the LGV theory test)
- be 18 or over (to hold an LGV licence)
- have a good driving record
- have good eyesight
- pass a medical as part of the LGV test.
There are several ways to get your LGV licence. If you are already working for a transport operator, for example as a clerk, they might train you. If you are not employed by an operator, you could fund yourself through a driver training school before looking for work.
The LGV licence is divided into two categories:
- Category C1 allows you to drive rigid vehicles up to 7.5 tonnes
- Category C allows you to drive rigid vehicles over 7.5 tonnes.
You would then take a further test to allow you to drive vehicles with trailers (category C+E).
Courses last from one to three weeks and cover driving skills, basic mechanics, and loading and securing loads. The test includes vehicle safety questions, specific manoeuvres such as reversing into a bay, 25 miles of road driving and a theory test based on the Highway Code and LGV regulations.
You can find training providers in your region through local directories like Yellow Pages or by searching online. You could also check the providers on the Joint Approvals Unit for Periodic Training (JAUPT) website. This website lists providers of refresher training for already-qualified LGV drivers but many of these providers will also offer initial LGV training.
It is recommended that you compare several providers before signing up to see what they offer and to make sure it fits your needs.
For more details on LGV licence applications see the section on driving, transport and travel on the GOV.UK website.
You could also move into LGV driving from related work (possibly with the same company), for example:
- forklift truck operation
- warehousing and distribution
- construction plant operation
- bus and coach driving.
See the related job profiles for more details.
Another way into this career could be through an Apprenticeship. The range of Apprenticeships available in your area will depend on the local jobs market and the types of skills employers need from their workers. To find out more about Apprenticeships, visit the Apprenticeships website.
In September 2009, a new EU Directive came into force stating that LGV drivers need a Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) as well as the LGV licence. This is known as the Driver CPC. The introduction of this Directive led to the withdrawal of the Young Driver Scheme. See the GOV.UK website for details of the Driver CPC training and test.
Training and development
Carriage of Dangerous Goods (ADR training)
If you are working on vehicles carrying dangerous goods, you are legally required to have an ADR (Advisory Dangerous Goods by Road) Certificate. The Certificate is valid for five years, after which you take refresher training to renew it. The initial ADR course is usually five days and the refresher training three days.
ADR training is administered by the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA). Check their website for a list of approved ADR training providers.
EPIC Driver Skills card
If you drive LGVs for the extractive and mineral processing industries, carrying aggregates, asphalt, ready mix concrete and mortar, you are now required to hold an MPQC Driver Skills Card (formerly known as EPIC). The card is proof of your safety awareness, on site and on the road. For more details, visit the Mineral Products Qualifications Council (MPQC) website.
The Driving Standards Agency (DSA) offers Occupational Driver Appraisals (ODAs), which review your driving ability and form part of a continual development programme. The Freight Transport Association and The Road Haulage Association offer training for the Operator’s Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) for members’ employees. With a CPC qualification, you could eventually move into transport management roles.
Skills and knowledge
To be an LGV driver you should have:
- an enjoyment of driving and excellent driving skills
- the ability to work alone and concentrate for long periods
- a polite manner with customers, when picking up or dropping off loads
- a good understanding of safety, on the road and when loading and unloading
- the ability to complete record sheets and paperwork accurately
- a reasonable level of fitness to work with loads.
Road Haulage Association (RHA)
National Operations Centre
Tel: 01733 261131
Skills for Logistics
12 Warren Yard
Warren Farm Office Village
Tel: 01908 313360
Freight Transport Association (FTA)
St John’s Road
Tel: 01892 526171
Typical employers include freight distribution companies, major retail chains, supermarkets, raw materials suppliers and manufacturers. Jobs may be advertised in the local press, through Jobcentre Plus offices and on the Jobcentre Plus job search.
You could set up your own business after gaining experience with a haulier or distributor, operating your own vehicle and perhaps eventually building up a fleet. With further training, you may be able to move into distribution or haulage management, transport and logistics planning or a specialised area of driving.
You may find the following useful for job vacancies and general reading:
Related industry information
The road haulage industry is part of the logistics sector, represented by the Skills for Logistics Sector Skills Council, which also includes: air freight; wholesaling; storage and warehousing; freight forwarding; postal services; and couriers. Logistics is the movement and supply of all goods (or freight) from raw materials, through all stages of the manufacturing process to the delivery of the finished product to companies and consumers. This is known as the ‘supply chain.’ Nearly 2,320,000 people work in the logistics sector, which accounts to 8% of the UK workforce. It has been estimated that the logistics sector is worth £86.54 billion to the UK economy.
Road haulage is the distribution, movement and supply of goods by road. Road haulage, which includes removal services, is the third largest industry in the logistics sector. The amount of freight that was moved in the UK increased by 46% between 1980 and 2007. The majority of the increase is due to goods being moved by road.
- 13% of the logistics sector workforce is within freight transport by road.
- Road haulage now accounts for 68% of all goods moved compared with 53% in 1980.
- A total of 220,000 people are employed in UK road haulage in the UK, which is estimated to be 13% of the entire logistics sector workforce.
- There are 34,000 road haulage workplaces in the UK.
- Freight transport by road employs the smallest proportion of women and people with a Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic background than other logistics industries.
- 12% of the industry workforce is self‐employed.
Jobs in the industry range from: LGV driver, LGV training instructor, distribution manager, removals worker, road transport manager, van driver, transport planner, transport scheduler, road haulage load planner, drivers mate, supply chain manager, operations manager, yard person, training manager, marketing co‐ordinator, operations director, freight account manager, financial planning manager, general manager.
National and regional data
East Midlands – Of the 156,600 employees working in logistics businesses in the East Midlands, 20,600 work in road haulage. This equates to 13% of the logistics workforce in the East Midlands.
East of England – Of the 186,700 employees working in logistics businesses in the East of England, 28,100 of these individuals work in road haulage. This is 15% of the logistics workforce in the region.
London – Of the 178,800 employees working in logistics businesses in London, 8,900 work in road haulage. This accounts for 5% of the logistics workforce in the region.
North East – Of the 55,000 people employed in logistics businesses in the region, 9,900 people are employed in road haulage. This is 18% of the logistics workforce in the region.
North West – Of the 193,400 people working in logistics businesses in the North West, 31,300 people are employed in road haulage. This accounts for 16% of the logistics workforce in the region.
South East – Of the 256,300 employees working in logistics businesses in the region, the road haulage industry employs 21,800 employees. This equates to 8% of the logistics workforce in the region.
South West – Of the 135,100 employees working in logistics businesses in the region, 15,700 work in road haulage. This accounts for 12% of the logistics workforce in the region.
West Midlands – Of the 187,500 employees working in logistics businesses in the region, 26,100 work in road haulage. This accounts for 14% of the logistics workforce in the region.
Yorkshire and the Humber – Of the 158,100 employees working in logistics businesses in the region, 23,300 work in road haulage. This accounts for 15% of the logistics workforce in the region.
[N.B. Data derived from Annual Population Survey, 2008, Annual Business Inquiry, 2007 and Inter‐Departmental Business Register, 2007.]