In demand jobs where the only qualification you need is a driving licence

BERC71 vehicles travelling on the A1/M1 motorway near leeds yorkshire uk
BERC71 vehicles travelling on the A1/M1 motorway near leeds yorkshire uk

With most job vacancies heavily oversubscribed, it may come as a surprise to discover that there's one well-paid career suffering serious shortages.

According to the Road Haulage Association (RHA), there are currently tens of thousands of driving vacancies across the UK.

"We are short of between 45,000 and 50,000 drivers and the situation is getting worse," says RHA chief executive Richard Burnett.

The situation's got so bad that, last spring, an agency started offering cash bonuses to Eastern European lorry drivers because it simply couldn't find enough qualified people at home.

But before anybody gets too excited, there's a good reason why these vacancies are so hard to fill.

"Thousands of older drivers are leaving the industry and younger people can't afford the £3,000 it costs to get a truck licence," says Burnett. "The government could help but won't. They should support a truck driving apprenticeship but are refusing to do so."

The good news, though, is that the government has promised to look into finding a solution to the shortage, with David Cameron saying he'll evaluate "the right level of access to, and funding support for, training".

So, assuming you can scrape together the cash, how do you get to be an HGV driver? And what other driving jobs are there out there?

HGV driver
Heavy Goods Vehicle (or Large Goods Vehicle) drivers, as we've seen, will need to pass LGV training and gain a Certificate of Professional Competence, known as a Driver CPC.

This then qualifies you to drive commercial vehicles over 7.5 tonnes, including rigid trucks, articulated lorries, tankers, transporters and trailer wagons.

While the cost of the training is steep, some employers will pay for it, and apprenticeships are sometimes available.

And the good news is that after all that, the pay can be excellent. Salaries start at around £20,000, and can go up to £40,000 or more for those with an Advisory Dangerous Goods by Road certificate, allowing them to transport dangerous chemicals. Drivers generally work an average of 42 hours a week, with strict regulations over rest breaks.

"I always knew I wanted to become a HGV driver as my dad has been doing it for years and I knew the potential amount of money I could earn, so I knew that's what I wanted to do. Plus I liked the idea of being 'out and about' - couldn't imagine being stuck in an office," says ex-serviceman Luke Stoneman, who found work through agency Pertemps.

"A typical day at work now is normally a start from about 5/6 o'clock in the morning and normally a 12 hour shift. Sometimes more than that, but I don't mind working long hours for good money."

There's more information on how to get qualified here.

Bus driver
To be a bus or coach driver, you'll need a Passenger Carrying Vehicle (PCV) licence and Driver CPC. Most companies train up staff themselves, though it's possible to train independently through a local driving school.

As with HGV drivers, there are limits on working hours. On local services you could work up to 48 hours a week on shifts, including evenings and weekends, while coach drivers can drive for up to 56 hours a week, with a maximum of 90 hours over any two weeks.

Trainee and new drivers usually earn between £13,000 and £15,000 a year, with experienced drivers pulling in up to £25,000 a year with overtime payments.

"The thing I like about my job is coming to work every day, getting something different to do, different routes, meeting new people... different sorts of people from all over the world," says Edward, who works for First Bus.

There's more information here.
Taxi driver
Driving a taxi is a popular choice for people who don't like working in an office and may be short on qualifications. Aside from a full driving licence, all you'll need is an operator's licence - which you get from the licensing unit of your local council or from Transport for London (TfL) - and a criminal record check. You'll probably need to pass a geographical knowledge test too.

To be a London black cab driver, you'll need to pass the famous Knowledge - a huge undertaking, involving memorising 25,000 streets and 100,000 landmarks within a six-mile radius of Charing Cross. It usually takes about three years, and there's information on how to do it here.

Drivers working around 40 hours a week in a major city can earn between £12,000 and £30,000 a year.

"I work for myself, which means I can work as little or as much as I want. And the money's good if I put in the hours," London black cab driver Paul Goodspeed writes on TotalJobs.

"Obviously the traffic can be stressful and, believe it or not, driving a cab can be quite a lonely job. You talk about the same stuff all the time; the traffic or the weather, or just not at all."

Delivery van driver
With the rise of internet shopping, there's been a big increase in the number of delivery van jobs. A standard UK licence qualifies you to drive vehicles up to 3.5 tonnes - 7.5 tonnes if you passed your test before 1997.

Terms and conditions of the job vary considerably, with some firms paying per parcel delivered, putting severe pressure on wages. But the average salary is around £18,000, rising to around £26,000 for experienced drivers.

"Hardest part of the job was dealing with the large volume of parcels on the key days where the time limits were tight and battling with Christmas shopper traffic too," one Yodel driver reports on

"The most enjoyable part of the job was the driving aspect, dealing with customers and doing the rural routes where I would be able to interact with the customers in Welsh, which they appreciated."

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