You have made the decision to become a truck driver, now what?
In recent years, Australia has seen a shortage in the amount of truck drivers on the road. As more and more people convert to online shopping methods and associated the shipping that comes with it, the demand for road freight and thus, truck drivers, becomes ever increasing.
As current truckies are reaching retirement age, the amount of truck drivers on the road is decreasing, which means that the need for truck drivers is increasing, so, why not take up the rewarding career? The team here at Chris Shilling Transport Training have outlined below what it takes to become a truckie in NSW, with some important points to consider and some helpful hints to get you on the road trucking sooner.
Truck driving licenses and qualifications
If you want to become a truck driver in Australia, you will need to attain the proper licenses and qualifications. At a minimum, you will require a heavy vehicle license. There are 5 different classes of heavy vehicle licenses, depending on the type, size, and weight of truck you are wanting to drive.
Heavy vehicle license types
- LR: Light Rigid – includes small buses or trucks with a gross vehicle mass (GVM) of 8 tonnes
- MR: Medium Rigid – includes medium rigid trucks and buses with a GVM of more than 8 tonnes but no more than 2 axles
- HR: Heavy Rigid – includes heavy rigid trucks and buses (incorporating articulated buses) with a GVM of up to 8 tonnes and 3 or more axles
- HC: Heavy Combination – includes heavy articulated vehicles with a GVM more than 9 tonnes and 3 or more axles
- MC: Multi Combination – includes b-doubles, prime movers, low loaders, and road trains.
It’s important to check the classification of your vehicle to ensure that you hold the correct class of license to drive the vehicle.
How to attain a heavy vehicle license
There are two ways to attain your heavy vehicle license, depending on your location and which class of license you are applying for.
1. Pass your heavy vehicle knowledge test
Regardless of the qualifications pathway you choose, all new truckies must pass the Heavy Vehicle Knowledge Test which is required to complete the subsequent qualifications.
There are practice driver knowledge test questions that can be completed online to help you prepare for the test as well as a driver handbook that details all the information that you need to know. It is advised to study the handbook in depth and answer multiple practice questions before attempting the real test.
2. Pass your heavy vehicle competency-based assessment
After successfully passing the Heavy Vehicle Knowledge Test, new truckies must then complete a Heavy Vehicle Competency Based Assessment (HVCBA) with a registered training organisation. This will assess your ability to drive a heavy vehicle under a wide variety of driving conditions.
3. Choose your training provider
When completing the HVCBA, you have the flexibility to choose your training provider from a list of registered providers. It’s recommended to complete your research as different training providers have different experience levels and use different techniques when teaching you to drive, but all must follow a specifically detailed curriculum to certify your skills. You can find a full list of registered training organisations (RTOs) online.
What do I do if the HVCBA is not available in my location?
If you discover that the HVCBA cannot be delivered in your location in NSW, you can take a heavy vehicle driving test with a Service NSW testing officer who is certified to assess your skills. For a MC license, you must complete a HVCBA, meaning you may have to travel to a location where the HVCBA can be conducted.
Once you have successfully completed the HVCBA (or equivalent), you can apply to have your new heavy vehicle license printed and made official. Then the hard work moving into the career begins.
Considerations when working in the truck driving industry
Probably one of the most challenging parts of becoming a truck driver in NSW is finding suitable employment after getting your license. If you are looking for a job independently, it can be hard, especially with little practical driving experience, as companies prefer drivers with more experience. That being said, with the demand for drivers in the industry at the moment, you may find getting a position simpler and satisfying.
When considering or commencing a career in the trucking industry, it’s important to consider the following key points:
Which industry do you want to work in?
Depending on the type of cargo and the size of the vehicle, companies may try to attain drivers with more experience and skill. This may mean that you may need to gain some experience first before moving into the ‘dream’ position. Don’t be disheartened by this. It’s a way of striving for continuous professional development.
Be prepared for the lifestyle change
Being a truckie can be a very rewarding career, however you need to be prepared for it to change your lifestyle a bit. Truck drivers work long hours and can be asked to drive from one side of the country to the other. This may mean you will be away from your family and friends for extended periods of time, have irregular working hours and early starts and late finishes.
Seek regular medical assistance
As you will be spending a lot of time in a seated position (hours on end), ensure you have appropriate stretching and sitting techniques mastered. When in doubt, consult a medical professional who can give you up to date information about how to make your long journeys more comfortable.
Know the tools of the trade
Working with big vehicles and heavy cargo means that you not only need to know how to drive, but also be familiar with loading and unloading techniques, ties downs, straps, and the correct way to position cargo on the truck. While this does come with experience and practice, do a bit of regular research, especially if you have a specialty job that you are working on.
Get trained by the experts in the trucking industry
With years of experience driving heavy vehicles in the transport and fuel industries, Chris Shilling Transport Training can get you trained up and accredited fast. Chris Shilling Transport Training cover most Truck Driving Classes including MR, HR, HC, and MC. Click here for classes we teach, or contact Chris Shilling on 0434 366 758 to book a driving course. Alternatively, click here to send us an online message and we will get right back to you.