The Ex-Service Personnel’s guide to HGV driving careers

Many of the qualities and skills you trained for and developed during military service are highly transferable to a professional driving career. It’s why many of the best HGV drivers are ex-service personnel.
However, this doesn’t tell you why so many people choose HGV driving as a new career after leaving the forces.
In this article, we explore some of the key reasons why HGV driving could be the perfect career choice for you and look at some of the main pros and cons.

Why do Ex-Service Personnel Choose HGV Driving


1: Good Rates of Pay with Flexible Working

In the UK there is a drastic shortage of skilled HGV drivers – at least when we’re not in a period of lockdown thanks to a global pandemic – and an ever-increasing demand.
This shortage of HGV drivers means that there is plenty of work available, and good drivers can get excellent rates of pay and/or other benefits.
It also means that drivers often have a good choice of roles and jobs that suit their chosen lifestyle.
For example, if you wanted to spend more time with your family, you could look to get a job with a local builders’ merchant. Typically they’ll operate 07:30-16:30 Monday to Friday.
If you wanted to get out on the open road and see more of the world, you might prefer ‘tramping’ – hopping in the cab at the start of the week and hauling various things from A to B, with both A and B being anywhere in (or out!) of the country, returning back to base only at the end of the week.
The average salary for HGV drivers in the UK is around £31,000 for an HGV class one licensed driver, according to the 2020 figures. The best drivers earn more.

2: You might have a head start!

Many military roles involve driving and operating heavy machinery. If that is the case for you then you may require only minimal training to transfer these skills into certificates that are recognised on civvy street.
Whilst there is an obvious difference with the tasks that you’re likely to find yourself given, the right employer will help you get the appropriate experience and training to ensure the transition from military to professional driver is as seamless as possible.

3: Financial Support

As a Career Transition Partnership approved provider of training, many service personnel come to us with training credits to spend.
Typically you’ll be using your Individual Training Resettlement Credit (IRTC) or your Standard Learning Credit (SLC). Our quals don’t meet the Level 3 requirement for the Enhanced Learning Credits (ELCs), but we’re working on it. Your Resettlement Advisor will be able to tell you what you have to spend and we’ve got a selection of packages for you to choose from.
The Freight Transport Association (FTA) – of which we are a member – is also doing its best to get more ex-servicemen into the industry.
This includes a student-style loan to give people the opportunity to get into such jobs thus giving companies more drivers.

Getting Started

Getting started as a professional driver is quite simple. As we mentioned above many military roles include driving services so it may be the case that you already have the relevant qualifications.

Getting your Licence

If you’re already HGV qualified, you can skip this bit. For those of you who aren’t:

  • A: The driver needs their full car licence and to pass a routine medical exam. Neither should provide an issue for ex-military personnel.
  • B: Prepare for and pass a theory test.
  • C: After passing the theory test you can then undergo practical training which culminates with a final skills test administered at an authorised facility.


Driver CPC

Even those ex-service personnel that do hold an HGV licence are unlikely to hold a Driver CPC qualification. The military are exempt so, unless you’ve been driving commercially whilst on leave, you simply won’t have needed it.
You will need to undergo and/or maintain your Driver CPC. There are a two different types of CPC, and which one you need will depend on when you obtained your licence(s) and if you’ve had CPC before.
Generally speaking, you need to undergo 35 hours of training every 5 years. This can be spread out across the five years, which is recommended. However, for the more youthful among us, you may need to do “initial CPC” instead – consisting of two modules: Module 2 & Module 4.
This training covers a variety of modules and topics that aim to increase your efficiency and safety when working on the road.
If you fail to complete all 35 hours of mandatory training your ability to drive for hire or reward will be restricted until such time as you have completed them.
Find out how we can help you with your Driver CPC Periodic Training

Finding the Right Employer

The best drivers thrive when given the freedom to tackle their role as they see fit, and in doing so they make themselves more eligible for better paid work.
But there’s one more thing. You need the right employer. One that is willing to recognise and reward hard work and support you on your journey.
You can find out about our approach to employer relations and how we help drivers build your careers here

Start Driving

Finally, the best way to get better jobs and higher paying roles is to continuously upskill, gathering as many of the various driving qualifications as possible, whilst at the same time getting the experience to prove that you can use these skills in a practical manner.

Final Considerations

Using a tachograph is something that you may be unfamiliar with and also won’t necessarily come up in training.
However, they are not particularly self-explanatory so make sure to ask your co-driver to talk you through it or to try and get on a digital tachographs Driver CPC module. You’re always welcome to talk to us for advice, too, if you get stuck so save our number!
It’s worth doing some research into the vehicle types and additional training and qualifications you can get. Undergoing additional training can increase your employability as well as your potential earnings.
Hopefully, this article will prove useful for you. If it’s a path you’re considering taking and you still have questions or if you’re already qualified and are looking for work – get in touch!

Image by Ian under Creative Commons