If you’ve been considering a career switch lately, heading out on the open road as an HGV driver may have come across your radar – and with good reason.

HGV drivers enjoy independence in their role, excellent rates of pay, a good work-life balance, and the chance to travel all over the country (and potentially the world) among a host of other benefits.

But you may be wondering – what does an HGV driver do in their day-to-day? Is there anything involved in the job that’s not quite as obvious? And would it be the right job for me?

At HGV Training Network, we’re here to give you the low-down on what’s involved in the job of an HGV driver, so you have a better understanding before you take the leap and get your HGV driving licence – along with a professional driving qualification called the certificate of professional competence (CPC).

In depth guide to the job of a HGV driver - HGV Training Network

What is the average HGV driver’s salary?

There’s no such thing as an ‘average’ day when you’re an HGV driver – the road always presents new and exciting challenges. But there are certain things every driver ticks off their list as part of their daily routine. These include things like:

  • Getting up early in the morning or sleeping in to work later in the evening – depending on their schedule.
  • Arriving at the depot to clock in, inspect their vehicle and collect their goods before heading out for the day.
  • Driving in busy towns, cities and motorways with fluctuating levels of traffic.
  • Enjoying some peace and independence while they’re behind the wheel
  • Making a single drop-off or multiple stops throughout the day, depending on the items in question.
  • Returning to the depot to drop off their HGV after their shift, before returning home.

The benefits of a career as an HGV driver for women

While it may be a male-dominated industry (99% of HGV drivers are male), more and more women are being encouraged to step into HGV driver roles after completing their HGV driver training.

Just as the road presents plenty of benefits for men, those same benefits still apply to women who wish to drive for a living. Female HGV drivers can enjoy excellent wages, shift work that fits around their busy personal schedules, and a role that offers plenty of peace, privacy and adventure.

Plus, by becoming a female HGV driver, you’ll be helping to cause a seismic shift in the opportunities in HGV driving that are open to women, encouraging more women to join the ranks and change their working lives for the better.

An in depth guide to being a HGV driver - HGV Training Network

What are the wages for HGV drivers?

HGV driver wages are one of the key reasons so many people have made the switch to HGV driving in recent years – not only is it a fulfilling job, but also a very lucrative one.

To put things into perspective, a beginner HGV driver can easily accrue a salary of over £25,000 per year, with the average HGV driver salary in the UK earning around an impressive £35,000.

But that’s just the average. Depending on where you live, you stand to earn considerably more than this. In and around London, for example, HGV driver wages are far greater, on average, than they are in the North of England.

However, more experienced drivers in the right part of the country, working for the right company, can earn in the region of £60,000!

Do HGV drivers get paid per trip or per hour?

This can differ from company to company. A tenured HGV driver working for the same company for several years may be paid purely on a salary basis – a set amount per month. However, many HGV drivers who switch between working for numerous companies can be paid on both a per-hour or per-trip basis, at the discretion of the company involved.

In depth guide to being a HGV driver - HGV Training Network

How does overtime work as an HGV driver?

If there is an overspill of work and companies need HGV drivers for longer than they anticipated, these companies can offer drivers overtime to meet demand. In this case, the drivers are usually paid on a per-hour basis and will receive the appropriate payment for the extra hours they have worked.

However, accepting overtime as an HGV driver is a decision that needs to be taken carefully. By law, drivers are only allowed to spend a certain amount of time behind the wheel per day and must take at least a 45-minute break after every 4.5 hours of driving. If a company tries to make an HGV driver exceed the time restrictions of these rules, they are putting themselves in a very morally and legally grey area.

Having said that, drivers who stick to the accepted periods and enjoy the right amount of rest are more than welcome to accept overtime on their originally-scheduled days off, as this can act as a handy boost to their pay packets.

Will HGV driver wages go up?

Given there is still a huge demand for HGV drivers across the country (more on that in a moment) and that HGV driver wages seem to have been steadily rising  – with the occasional dip – in recent years, there’s every reason to assume wages will continue to rise at a similar rate.

It all depends on three factors: 

  • Overall wages rising in line with inflation
  • The demand for drivers 
  • The value of the jobs they’re expected to undertake

If more high-value clientele require experienced and reliable drivers, there’s no reason they wouldn’t compensate these drivers accordingly with increased wages. Time will tell.

In depth guide to being a HGV driver - HGV Training Network

Is there an HGV driver union?

Yes – much like other professions, it is important for HGV drivers to ensure they receive fair treatment from their employers on a host of different matters. Enrolling in a union is one way to help make this happen.

HGV drivers can join various worker’s unions to gain the support they seek, should an issue arise that cannot be solved alone. Some driver-specific unions deal exclusively with those in the driving profession.

What is the demand for HGV drivers?

In 2021, there was a national shortage of around 100,000 HGV drivers, creating a substantial problem in the industry and leaving many important driving jobs unfulfilled. This is, in part, due to older, more experienced drivers retiring with not enough young recruits learning the trade.

However, things have improved somewhat in recent months. In March 2023, the shortage had lessened from 100,000 to 60,000 thanks to government schemes, impressive HGV training courses and attractive wages, amongst other reasons – though there is still a long way to go. So if you’re interested in becoming an HGV driver, there are still plenty of opportunities out there for you.

In depth guide to being a HGV driver - HGV Training Network

Can you still take holidays as an HGV driver?

Taking holidays as an HGV driver will undoubtedly differ from company to company. But, overall, HGV drivers are just as entitled to paid holiday time as anyone in any other profession. 

Consider HGV Training Network for your first steps into HGV driving

If becoming an HGV/lorry driver, earning your HGV licence and driver certificate of professional competence sounds like the right career move for you, HGV Training Network is here to help. 

With 50 training centres across the UK, all manned by experienced and personable HGV training providers, we’re your number-one pick for HGV training in the UK.

Alternatively, we also offer other qualifications, if you’re looking to do something a little different – like becoming a bus driver, for instance.Get in touch with the HGV Training Network team today to find out more.