Thinking of switching up your career this year? If you love the open road, have a passion for driving, and enjoy a sense of freedom in your work, an HGV driving job could be perfect for you. In a world where the number of lorry drivers available is drastically low, you might have an easier time successfully getting a job today than ever before.
Right now, there’s a shortage of around 100,000 HGV drivers in the UK alone, so demand is high. This also means you can potentially earn a lot more from a role as a lorry driver than you once could. The only caveat is driving a specialist vehicle does require specific training.
So, how long does it take to become a lorry driver in the UK, and what does the process actually involve? Let’s find out.
Does it Take Long to Get an HGV Licence?
First, the exact amount of time it takes to get your HGV licence will depend on a number of factors, including whether you’re qualifying as an HGV driver for the first time, whether you have your standard driver’s licence, and what kind of vehicle you want to operate.
It generally takes between 1 to 5 months to obtain a driver’s licence if you’re starting completely from scratch, so you’ll need to keep this in mind if you’re not a registered driver. Of course, most people considering a lorry driving career will generally already be able to drive.
If you already have your licence, the majority of the time you spend on getting your HGV licence will usually involve waiting for things to arrive in the post, and studying for your theory exams. Keep in mind that some of the process can take longer if medical checks and other tests need to be conducted.
Let’s take a look at the time-scales involved once you have your driver’s licence.
Qualifying as an HGV Driver for the First Time
If you’re entering the HGV industry for the first time, you’ll need to have your full car license, and be over the age of 18 to get started. From there, you’ll have to apply for a provisional HGV licence.
There are different kinds of licence available, based on the kind of vehicles you want to tow.
HGVs and lorries usually fall under “Category C”; However, you can check the options on the gov.uk website. Applying for a provisional licence is easy to do either through the post or online. You should generally receive your provisional within 3 weeks of your application being checked, but it could take longer in some cases.
The next step is to complete the driver CPC (Certificate of Professional Competence) tests. There are four tests in total:
– Theory Test: This is an examination made up of two tests, a multiple choice, and hazard perception test. You can book this as soon as you receive your provisional licence, so it might be worth doing some studying in the meantime. The certificate remains valid for 2 years.
– Case studies: The case study element of your CPC can be booked when you receive your provisional license too, and this remains valid for 2 years.
– Driving Ability: You’ll need to have completed your theory test to do the driving ability test. This test takes around an hour and a half to complete.
– Practical demonstration: This test features five topics from the driver CPC syllabus, and you score up to 20 points for each topic. Make sure you study plenty in advance to ensure you feel ready to take this test.
Medical tests are also often necessary as part of your training. This is to ensure you don’t have any conditions which might prevent you from driving safely. The medical test generally consists of a conversation and brief examination with a doctor.
Once you’ve passed all your tests, you’ll be sent your Driver CPC card, which you can carry with you when driving an HGV. The practical training and process of completing the tests will usually take around 5 days on average.
Re-Qualifying as an HGV Driver
If you’ve already received a licence in the past for driving a lorry, you don’t always need to complete the full qualification process again. You can get a complete guide on how to requalify on the Gov.uk website, but the process is usually quite simple.
Start by checking to see whether your licence has expired. If it has, you’ll need to renew your licence. It’s also worth checking if the licence covers the vehicles you want to be able to drive. Depending on when you got your HGV licence, you may also need to complete up to 35 hours of driver CPC training with a course provider, and pass the Driver CPC (case studies) and practice demonstration tests again.
Keep in mind, to stay qualified as an HGV driver, you will need to renew your licence every five years. If you’re under the age of 45, you should simply have to complete the relevant forms, and update your information. If you’re over 45, you’ll need to complete a driver medical assessment.
Drivers over the age of 65 also have to renew their licence every year.
You’ll also need to complete around 35 hours of training every 5 years to keep your driver credentials and skills up to date.
Is It Difficult to Become a Lorry Driver?
Provided you’re already have the age of 18 and have your full driving licence, it doesn’t take long to become a lorry driver. With a company like Surrey & Hampshire HGV training, you can complete most of the practical requirements of getting your licence within five days, even if you don’t have any prior experience with driving larger vehicles.
You might find it helpful to download some resources and start revising the moment you apply for your provisional licence, however. This will ensure you’re ready to take your theory tests the moment your new licence is delivered to you.
In total, it can take between 6 to 8 weeks to start your new career with your licence in hand. If you think you’re ready to start your HGV learning and training journey, we’ve got the tools you need to get started. Contact Surrey and Hampshire HGV Training today to start your lessons.
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