Truck driving is one of the highest paying skilled jobs in Australia today. With the growing demand for heavy vehicle drivers, getting a Heavy Rigid (HR) heavy vehicle licence opens up many opportunities to work as a driver in the freight industry.
A career in the trucking industry starts with getting the appropriate licence. Getting a licence can be complicated without the right training and preparation, but getting the right training is an excellent investment in an economy that relies heavily on freight transport.
Heavy Rigid Vehicles
In Australia, heavy rigid vehicles are vehicles that weigh 8 tonnes or more and typically have 3 or more axles.
Cars with trailers weighing up to 9 tonnes are also included in this category. All buses, trucks, cranes, prime movers and buses with articulated joints are classed in this category.
With so many types of vehicles falling under this category, drivers planning to enter the freight industry are strongly advised to get an HR licence, as it opens up many opportunities for employment.
Heavy Rigid Driver Salary
The average salary of a Heavy Rigid truck driver in Australia is $50,000 per year, which is roughly $30 per hour. This amount varies from state to state and depends on the frequency of overtime.
For experienced drivers, the salary may rise to $90,000 – $100,000 per year, making driving in the freight industry one of the highest-paid skilled jobs in Australia.
The industry is growing exponentially and is expected to double in size by 2025, offering ample career opportunities and high-paying jobs that don’t require a bachelor degree.
Eligibility to drive heavy rigid vehicles depends on the driver’s skills and driving experience. There is also a minimum education prerequisite to ensure that the driver can read and comprehend road signs, including symbols and words.
A driver seeking to acquire a Heavy Rigid licence must also have held a C class licence for at least 2 years. C class licences are issued for driving light vehicles.
Develop your skills
Before you can be issued a licence, you must be skilled in handling difficult-to-drive vehicles such as trucks and buses.
It is a requirement for people who want to have a career in the freight industry to enroll in a government-accredited driving school to learn the fundamentals of truck driving.
In most driving courses, especially for Heavy Rigid vehicles, there are specific topics that need to be covered. Typically, these courses will tackle the unique situations truck drivers face daily, including:
- handling large vehicles such as trucks, vans and buses in a busy thoroughfare
The courses also cover defensive driving, how to identify problems and troubleshooting skills. All of these are essential skills needed to become a successful truck driver.
Apply for a Heavy Rigid licence
Once you have completed your Heavy Rigid vehicle training, you can apply for a Heavy Rigid licence.
To apply for your licence, you will need:
- a completed DLA1 form
- proof of identity (any identification that is recognised by the Australian Government)
- proof of a satisfactory eyesight test
- proof of medical eligibility (including mental and physical competence).
Driver Knowledge Test
If you hold a C or LR class licence, you will be required to take the Heavy Vehicle theory test (Driver Knowledge Test), conducted at the Drivers and Vehicle Services Centre.
Holders of a Medium Rigid licence are not required to take the test.
Once you have applied for your licence and completed the theory test (if required), you will need to undergo a Practical Driving Assessment (PDA) to assess your driving skills.
If you happen to fail the test, you can retake it after 7 calendar days.
If you are successful, you will be issued with a licence.
The Australian freight industry
Freight services currently dominate the market in providing transport services for non-bulk items in Australia. Australian companies prefer to transport their goods using road freight rather than transportation by rail or sea. Analysts predict that the freight industry will have doubled in size within the next 5 to 10 years.
Though truck driving is considered a blue collar job, it is one of the most highly paid skill-based jobs in the market today.
With demand for truck drivers set to increase, getting a Heavy Rigid licence will provide financial security and opportunities well into the future.