How Much Do Lorry Drivers Earn? [UK 2021]

Truck drivers certainly kept us going during the pandemic last year. Over 80% of goods consumed in the UK are moved around by HGV drivers. The job market for lorry drivers has never been better. We ask how much do lorry drivers earn in the UK, including the costs involved to train to become a lorry driver.

Lorry drivers in the UK can earn a salary of around £23k to £40k per annum. Like most jobs, the bigger paid jobs come with more experience and bigger vehicles to navigate. The more years of experience as a truck driver you have, the better the salary. Rates of pay are also determined by the type of goods you are transporting – hazardous equipment would offer a far greater rate of pay. Longer haul jobs would also be at the higher end of the pay scale.

Depending on who you work for, lorry drivers can be paid by the hour, per mile or for the job and others have a set salary paid monthly. There are plenty of lorry driving training centres and companies around – we advise you contact a few lorry driving companies first and ask around for reviews. Taking the course, at your own cost, doesn’t always guarantee work at the end of the day.

There are three main licenses, which determine the type of lorry and load you can work with. Depending on whether you will drive a bus or refuse lorry to a full blown trucker transporting goods internationally you will need different training and licenses.

What different types of lorry driver jobs are there?

These can be broken into three very broad types:

Local driving jobs (Category C Class licence the most popular to get started) – such as parcel deliveries, food deliveries and binmen. Local driving jobs tend to cover the same regular geographical area and have a number of drop-offs to make during the day.

  • Pros – you tend to work more regular patterns and get to know the route you cover
  • Cons – you may feel under pressure to fit in all your deliveries within the required time.

Short haul jobs (category C1)– cover jobs that may involve driving longer distances, but still within the UK. You have to drive across a couple of counties – delivering furniture or as a removal van or driving an ambulance. You may find you have to stay overnight on route as your destination could be a few hundred miles away. Once you have this licence though you could shift up a gear to help move and load pallets and building goods.

Long haul jobs – (Catergory C + E – for the big trucks and bigger pay). The epitome of lorry drivers. Commercial vehicle drivers typically transport heavy goods, livestock or more than 15 passengers. They will require a commercial licence and will also need to be aware of documentation that will need to check on the route. If you don’t mind being away from home and enjoy your own company, this could be a great way to see the world.

What else do I need to know to become a lorry driver?

There are over 285,000 lorry drivers in the UK, but only a very small percentage are women – but it is certainly a career option open to all. Unless you are extremely fortunate, you’ll need to fund your own training and license – which could cost around £2000 for HGV Class 2 training and an additional £1500 if you want to progress to Class 1.

You will also need to have the time to take the practical and theory tests. The main training for HGV typically runs over 4 days and costs around £1500, the bulk of your costs. There are some grants and loans available to fund HGV training so it’s worth checking those out.

Some companies will take you on and pay for your driving courses but will want you to stay on as an employer after a set period of time, or you may be liable to pay the cost of the course back.

How old do I need to be to become a lorry driver?

You need to be 18 and have your drivers car licence in order to apply for your HGV training. You can start the process yourself by completing two forms on the DVLA site – one of which involves a short medical.

Can I be a self-employed lorry driver?

Yes, but there is a lot to be responsible for. Depending on who you work for, you could be employed by a large company or self-employed. If you’re self-employed you’ll need to make sure you have sufficient insurance for your transport type and that you comply with driver hours regulations.

You will also need to ensure your lorry is safe to drive and that you comply with all required legislation, including updating your training every five years.

What other skills do I need to become a lorry driver?

Your main role will be to safely transport your goods to it’s destination. Your patience may be tested dealing with bad traffic and customers so you’ll need a barrel of patience.

Any map reading skills could be an advantage and you may need to travel abroad and plan routes, and language skills could also increase your job search as a lorry driver. You’ll need to deal with paperwork for the transport of your goods, so good organisational skills are required.

As safety is a priority of your job, any evidence of how this will be to your advantage – the safety of both the goods, the lorry and others. Loading or supervising the offloading of your goods will also be required so people skills and physical health will set you on the right path as a career as a lorry driver.

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