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How Much Do Lorry Drivers Earn

Aug 25, 2020

The job of a lorry driver may have at times been undervalued. However, the pandemic has highlighted just how vital those working as lorry drivers really are to us all. Truck drivers and those involved with logistics companies have worked tirelessly throughout the coronavirus pandemic to keep the UK moving.

2020 HGV driver shortage

The industry as a whole is still facing real challenges with an HGV driver shortage being widely reported.

But with the circumstances brought about by the Coronavirus pandemic including job losses and redundancies, the role of a lorry driver may be one that some are now considering.

Whilst there are no figures available yet to suggest whether the HGV driver shortage is being met by people who have been made redundant from other jobs,  the demand is certainly there and increasing. This BBC news article suggests that delivery drivers and lorry drivers are two of the key sectors which are looking to hire people. But it is yet to be seen whether this acts to propel more interest in working in the sector or intensifies the current driver shortage.

If you are looking to change careers, there are a variety of options from being employed as a lorry driver to setting up on your own as an owner operator.

What are the different types of lorry driver jobs?

There are a large number of different types of job that a lorry driver can take on. Which one you choose will depend on a range of factors such as your experience, the type of HGV licence that you have obtained and your personal circumstances and roughly breakdown into three broad types:

  • Local driving jobs
  • Short haul driving jobs
  • Long haul driving jobs

Local driving jobs

Local driving jobs involve driving within a small area and typically involve multiple, often smaller deliveries or drops per day. They may see you working within more congested driving zones such as towns and cities.

Examples of local delivery driving jobs include:

  • Food delivery lorry drivers
  • Couriers
  • Refuse collector

Local driving jobs mean you may work more predictable working patterns, be at home most nights and become familiar with those that you deliver to. Pay can be lower than those carrying our long-distance journeys and there may be added stress of trying to make a certain number of deliveries over the course of a day, particularly if you get stuck in traffic.

Short haul jobs

Short haul jobs typically involve working within a local, smaller area. Distances travelled are likely to be larger than those carrying out local work, but not as far as those carrying our long-haul jobs. You may for example work across a number of counties within the UK. Short haul jobs typically involve a fewer number of deliveries being carried out a day due to the larger distances travelled.

Examples of short haul jobs include:

  • Retail delivery drivers
  • Home removal drivers

Short haul jobs come with many similar pros and cons to local driver jobs – more predictability, fewer nights away from home, but in some cases can attract lower wages.

Long haul jobs

Long haul lorry drivers will drive large distances and most likely carry out fewer drops within the time frame worked. Some long-haul jobs can take days if not weeks to complete and can see you travelling further afield across the UK. Some may even involve journeys to Europe.

Examples of long-haul jobs include:

  • Car transporter drivers
  • Tanker drivers
  • Freight delivery drivers

Long haul jobs can see you away from home for prolonged periods of time which may not suit someone with a family. Due to the distances being travelled, the hours can be long even when complying with HGV driver hour regulations. But the long distances travelled can provide the opportunity for travel and to see new places

How much do lorry drivers earn?

Exactly how much a lorry driver will earn will depend on a number of different factors such as the type of licence that you have, the amount of experience you have, the type of jobs that you carry out, the goods you transport, where you work and whether you work for a business or are an owner operator.

Starting salaries for an HGV driver can be anywhere between £19-£24k. But this can be higher as you gain experience and carry out training. Some report lorry drivers can earn up to £40k.

This pay report from the Road Haulage Association may give you more insight into the pay conditions for lorry drivers.

What are the responsibilities of lorry drivers?

These will vary depending on whether you are employed or whether you are a self-employed owner operator. But key areas that lorry driver are responsible for include:

Having the correct licence

As an HGV driver you must ensure that you have the correct licence in place to drive the vehicle that you want to drive and carry out the jobs that you are asked. There are a number of different licences, including the Class 1 HGV licence (also known as the Category CE licence) and the Class 2 HGV licence (also known as the Category C licence). Which licence you hold determines the weight of the vehicle you can drive and trailer you can tow.

You will also need to ensure that your licence is renewed as and when required.

Lorry Driver CPC training

In order to keep your Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) to drive a lorry, bus or coach, you must carry out 35 hours of training every 5 years.

So, as a Lorry driver, completing relevant training will be something you are responsible for.

Driving hours

As we touched on previously, lorry and HGV drivers must adhere to strict rules relating to driver hours. And it is your responsibility as a driver to adhere to these. You must only drive for the allowed number hours and take the correct length of breaks. This will be particularly important to those who are carrying out long haul work.


It is vital to have the appropriate insurance in place as a lorry driver.

If you are an employed lorry driver then it is most likely that your employer will manage and have insurance in place which covers you.

However, if you are a self-employed lorry driver, or an owner operator then insurance is something you will need to take responsibility for. It may be worth working with a broker who can advise and help you determine which insurance you need to have in place as a lorry driver.  The type of insurance you will require will vary depending on factors such as the types of transport you provide and the vehicles you operate so it is important to get your insurance right.

Vehicle condition

It is your job as a lorry driver to ensure that your vehicle is in the right condition before taking to the road. Checks include the security of the load you are carrying, the condition of your tyres and wheel fixings and brakes amongst others. For a full overview of your responsibilities as a lorry driver when it comes to vehicle condition refer to this leaflet on staying legal as an HGV driver.

At Anthony Jones, we have a team of motor and fleet insurance specialists. From large fleets to owner operators, we can work with you to understand your risks and identify the right cover for you or your business. For more information on how we can help you don’t hesitate to get in touch with us today on 020 8290 9099 or email us at commercial.motor@anthonyjones.com.

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