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What does a delivery driver do?
A delivery driver is someone who drives a delivery vehicle for work. They collect various parcels, goods and items from one location and transport and deliver them to customers, including businesses, individuals and families.
Delivery drivers can deliver various parcels, from small packages, e.g. clothing, food and gifts, to large items, such as furniture and appliances. They can travel in their local area, regionally, nationally and even internationally. Therefore, what they do will depend on their type of role, where they work and the goods they handle and deliver.
A delivery driver’s main aim is to ensure the items they collect from various places are transported and delivered safely, efficiently, timely and securely to customers. They will carry out many tasks, including picking up items, loading/unloading goods, planning routes, delivering door-to-door, proving deliveries and returning items. The role may also require ad hoc administrative work, such as completing delivery records and reports on hand-held devices.
Delivery drivers mainly work alone but may have driver’s mates with them to help with large and complex deliveries. They may work with colleagues (including agency staff) at depots, warehouses and other collection points. They will also liaise with other external stakeholders, including clients and customers (business and the public), other drivers on the road, breakdown companies, the police, etc.
Delivery drivers will spend most of their working day driving in their vehicles and travelling to make their deliveries. They may also spend some time working in a depot, warehouse or office, and some walking outdoors is usually required.
Delivery drivers can be employed to deliver items for single companies, e.g. retailers. They can also work for other employers, such as parcel delivery/courier services and logistics companies. Some may also choose to be self-employed or freelance.
A delivery driver’s responsibilities will depend on many factors, including who they work for (employed or themselves), and where and what they deliver.
Some examples of their day-to-day duties may include (this list is not exhaustive):
- Picking up items from a warehouse, pick-up point, store, food premises or depot.
- Planning delivery routes to ensure prompt, safe and efficient deliveries.
- Receiving and adhering to delivery schedules.
- Loading items onto delivery vehicles in the correct order matching the delivery route.
- Verifying delivery information, e.g. names, addresses and telephone numbers.
- Travelling between destinations.
- Delivering items correctly and safely to their final destination.
- Contacting customers en route if there are any issues or queries.
- Updating tracking systems with an estimated time and location.
- Proving deliveries, e.g. getting customers’ signatures and taking photographs.
- Giving invoices to customers and collecting payments (where applicable).
- Returning any undelivered or incorrect items.
- Recording mileage, working hours and fuel purchases.
- Updating delivery records.
- Maintaining and checking vehicles.
A delivery driver can work 20-42 hours a week, but they can do more or fewer hours depending on the requirements of their role. It will also depend on where they deliver to and how many deliveries they make.
Being a delivery driver is not a 9-5 job, and those looking at entering this profession must be committed to working unsociable hours. There is usually a requirement to work different shifts, including early mornings, evenings, nights, weekends and bank holidays.
Most delivery drivers work full-time. However, some delivery driving roles offer flexible working hours, e.g. part-time or job share.
Some delivery driving jobs involve long shifts, i.e. up to 12 hours. Most of this time will require individuals to travel and work away from home. Overnight stays may be required for some, especially when delivering long distances. There may also be overseas opportunities.
What to expect
There are many positives to being a delivery driver, especially if individuals enjoy driving, being active and travelling to different areas. It may also be suitable for introverted people, as they will have limited interaction and be alone most of the day driving in their vehicle.
Delivery drivers do not require formal qualifications. Therefore, it can be a great career choice for less academic individuals. However, they will still need a full driving licence, meaning they must pass driving theory tests.
Being a delivery driver can be rewarding. They help businesses, individuals and families by delivering their packages and items safely and efficiently. Some people cannot go out to shop themselves, and it can be a real lifeline for them. Delivery drivers can go home at the end of the working day knowing their job makes a difference to people and businesses.
It can be a good career choice for those who want self-employment. Being a self-employed delivery driver and having an opportunity to be your own boss can be attractive as it can give individuals the independence to take charge of their working day and overall career progression. Even employed delivery drivers have a sense of freedom, as they will work autonomously in their role and will usually be able to manage their own schedules.
There is no shortage of delivery driver roles, especially as more people shop online. Jobs are available locally, nationally and even internationally. Individuals can also choose to be employed, self-employed or freelance. Some delivery drivers’ jobs offer flexible hours so individuals can fit their work around their personal lives.
Boredom will never be a problem for delivery drivers, as their work is very varied and fast-paced, and they will deliver various packages and items during their working day. The role enables them to travel instead of being stuck behind a desk. There may also be opportunities to travel further afield and explore new areas.
Even though there are positives to being a delivery driver, there are challenges and cons, e.g.:
- Physical demands – being a delivery driver is often physically demanding, and individuals need a good fitness level. They will be required to load and unload packages of different weights and carry them, which will involve manual handling. Some loads may be heavy, which could cause injury if individuals do not use good lifting and carrying techniques. The role can also require extensive travel and walking to various delivery locations.
- Mental demands – the role is also mentally demanding, fast-paced and busy. Delivery drivers must deliver numerous packages and items safely and promptly, which can be stressful, especially if they are stuck in traffic or cannot deliver. Some have a set number of deliveries, so meeting targets is essential.
- Difficult working conditions – delivery drivers can face challenging working conditions. They must drive in all weather, including heat, rain, snow and ice. Being stuck in traffic jams can also be uncomfortable, especially in the height of summer or winter. There can also be limited access to welfare facilities, especially when delivering to more rural areas.
- Health and safety risks – delivery drivers can face many hazards, e.g. driving, poor weather, lone working, work-related violence, manual handling, falling objects, hazardous substances, slips, trips and falls, and work-related stress. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) website has further information on health and safety when driving for work.
- Self-employment expenses – if a delivery driver decides to be self-employed or freelance, they will have various costs that can quickly add up. They will first need a suitable insured well-maintained vehicle. They will also have expenses relating to vehicle maintenance, fuel, advertising, business insurance, tax, National Insurance, equipment (mobile phone/computer/satnav/manual handling), etc.
Every career choice has pros and cons, and prospective delivery drivers must know what to expect before deciding whether it is for them. Travelling and delivering items all day can be challenging and stressful. It is physically and mentally demanding, requires work in difficult conditions, and the hours may be lengthy and unsociable. However, there are many positives too, and those who become delivery drivers really enjoy travelling and the flexibility the role gives them.
When considering whether to be a delivery driver and the type of role, individuals should look at the pros and cons. They should also ensure they have the right personal qualities to carry out the role and responsibilities required.
Personal qualities needed to be a delivery driver
Some of the personal qualities a delivery driver requires will include (this list is not exhaustive):
- A good driving record.
- Sensitivity and understanding.
- Trustworthy, cooperative and reliable.
- Knowledge of transport methods, costs and benefits.
- Knowledge of local roads and geographical locations.
- Knowledge of related legislation and standards, e.g. driving and the Highway Code.
- Knowledge of maths and the English language.
- Knowledge of health and safety.
- Knowledge of confidentiality, data protection and the GDPR.
- Navigational skills.
- Organisational skills.
- Interpersonal skills.
- Customer service skills.
- Concentration skills.
- Professional driving skills.
- Time management skills.
- Communication skills, both written and verbal.
- Being thorough, accurate and having attention to detail.
- Having a good level of physical fitness.
- Having a good work ethic.
- The ability to work to tight deadlines.
- The ability to be flexible and adapt to change, e.g. road closures and heavy traffic.
- The ability to manage own schedules (if self-employed).
- The ability to work both with others and alone using own initiative.
- The ability to accept criticism.
- The ability to work well under pressure and remain calm in stressful situations.
- The ability to use IT equipment, e.g. computers and hand-held devices, for basic tasks, such as recording deliveries.
- The ability to work long and often unsociable hours.
Qualifications and training
Individuals do not require specific qualifications to become delivery drivers but will need a full clean driving licence. They can also do an apprenticeship, apply directly and volunteer to help them get a position.
Apprenticeships can help individuals get a job as a delivery driver, e.g. intermediate express delivery operative or urban driver. They should have some GCSEs, usually English and maths or equivalent, for an intermediate apprenticeship. It usually takes a minimum of 12 months to complete.
Opportunities are found on Government’s Apprenticeships, Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education and Indeed. Individual companies and the armed forces (Army, Royal Navy and Royal Air Force) also offer an apprenticeship route into the delivery driver role, which will be on their websites.
On the job training and volunteering
In addition to apprenticeships, individuals can apply directly to employers to work as delivery drivers and learn on the job. Some employers may also provide full training and support for those without experience. Whilst there is not usually a requirement for specific qualifications, employers may stipulate that individuals possess a good driving record and basic maths and English skills. They may also require knowledge of the local area.
There is no substitute for practical experience. Volunteering as a driver can also help individuals understand what is involved in driving professionally and help them build their knowledge and skills. Charities, community transport schemes and hospices may provide practical experience in driving, collecting and delivering, e.g., an individual could volunteer as a charity collection driver. There is information on volunteering and local opportunities on Do-IT, NCVO and Volunteering Matters.
Any work experience relevant to driving, collecting and delivering can be beneficial and help an individual work towards becoming a delivery driver, e.g. working in storage or a warehouse. Having experience in working to tight deadlines can also count.
Training courses to become a baker
Attending relevant training courses and having additional certifications can help delivery drivers enter the profession, enhance their employability and give them a competitive edge.
We offer various courses that may be useful for delivery drivers, such as:
- COVID-19 awareness.
- Health and safety for employees.
- Additional health and safety training, e.g. COSHH, work-related violence, lone working, slips, trips and falls, stress, and manual handling.
- First aid.
- Time management.
- Customer service skills.
- Understanding the GDPR.
- Complaints handling.
- Resilience training.
Some other courses from other providers may also help, such as:
- Additional driver training, e.g. advanced driving course.
- Driver and road safety awareness.
- Business management (if self-employed).
- IT skills.
Professional bodies, not-for-profit organisations, unions and associations, such as the Institute of Couriers, Alliance of British Drivers and the National Courier & Despatch Association (for companies), United Road Transport Union (URTU), Generation Logistics, the Workers Union and others, can also advise on reputable training courses. Some also provide events and support to help individuals become delivery drivers and give them the means to continue their professional development.
The training required will depend on what employers are looking for and the type of delivery driving work an individual wants. It is worth looking at several job advertisements to identify the training courses required for specialist roles. Jobs are on websites such as GOV.UK Find a Job Service, Indeed, LinkedIn, Glassdoor and other job sites. If an individual wants to be self-employed but wants support and a regular workload, companies such as Amazon, City Sprint, Evri and Yodel offer opportunities.
If delivery drivers have more relevant training and competence (skills, experience and knowledge), it will open up more opportunities. Refresher training will also be required, as it is a legal requirement and keeps their knowledge and skills up to date.
Criminal records checks
Some delivery driver roles may require individuals to undergo a criminal record check, as they may handle expensive and critical packages and items. A criminal record, caution, warning or conviction may put off prospective employers. However, an employer should account for the seriousness of the crime, when it occurred and its relevance to the role.
The organisation that holds criminal records will depend on the country within the UK, for example:
- England and Wales – Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS).
- Northern Ireland – AccessNI.
- Scotland – Protecting Vulnerable Groups (PVG) scheme.
Delivery drivers should have the following:
- A full driving licence that is correct for the type of vehicle, e.g. van.
- Their own vehicle (if self-employed).
- Previous driving experience.
- A good driving record (some companies may stipulate a clean driving licence, others may allow a maximum of six points).
- No previous disqualifications.
There are additional responsibilities associated with being self-employed, for example:
- Having the correct insurances, i.e. public liability and home/car business. If employing anyone, employers’ liability insurance will be required.
- Registering with HMRC.
- Filing tax returns.
- Registering with the ICO to hold personal data (to comply with the Data Protection Act 2018 and the GDPR).
Further advice and guidance on being self-employed can be found on GOV.UK.
Some delivery driver roles are subject to regular drug and alcohol testing, which individuals must pass to start and continue working for the company.
Some companies may require their delivery drivers (employed and self-employed) to wear uniforms.
Where do delivery drivers work?
Delivery drivers can work solely for individual companies, such as (this list is not exhaustive):
- Royal Mail.
- Food retailers, such as supermarket chains.
- Other retailers.
- Car manufacturers.
- Parcel delivery and courier services.
- Logistics and freight firms.
- Takeaway food delivery companies.
They can also work on temporary contracts with recruitment agencies.
There are also numerous self-employed or freelance opportunities with companies, such as:
- Evri (Hermes).
- City Sprint.
They will predominately work in their vehicles and travel to collect the items and to delivery destinations to drop them off. They could work in urban, suburban or rural areas and even overseas. Customers may include businesses, the public and others. Therefore, delivery drivers will visit many different types of places.
How much do delivery drivers earn?
A delivery driver’s salary will depend on their experience, location, shift times, where and what they deliver, and whether they are employed, self-employed or freelance.
According to Check-a-Salary, the average salary for a delivery driver in the UK is as follows (these are only a guide):
- Minimum – £19,760.00 a year.
- Average – £26,222.03 a year.
- Maximum – £38,991.00 a year.
The salary for self-employed delivery drivers is variable. They will also need to factor in various expenses, e.g. tax, National Insurance, suitable vehicle, MOT/tax/insurance, fuel, other insurances (business/liability), equipment, etc.
As an apprentice, the salary will depend on an individual’s age and how long they have been in their apprenticeship. Apprentices must earn at least the current National Minimum Wage (NMW). Some employers will pay more than this. However, it will depend on the organisation and role on offer.
Types of delivery driving roles to specialise in
There are various opportunities for delivery drivers to specialise. They may decide to specialise in a mode of transport, such as a car, van, motorbike or moped.
They can also specialise in delivering specific items, such as (this list is not exhaustive):
- Food delivery driving – collecting food and drinks from various premises and delivering them to customers. They can also work for supermarkets that offer home deliveries, e.g. Ocado, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Waitrose, Morrisons, Iceland, etc.
- Lite delivery driving – delivering small parcels and packages only. Therefore, it is a good option for those who find heavy lifting difficult. They may also be able to use a car instead of a van, depending on how many packages they need to deliver.
- Long-distance delivery driving – delivering across the UK. It can mean more unsocial hours and nights away from home.
- Mail delivery driving – collecting mail, parcels and packages from post offices/ sorting offices and delivering them to customers’ doorsteps.
- Medical delivery driving – delivering urgent and emergency medical supplies, medications and samples to various healthcare settings, e.g. hospitals, laboratories and clinics. It can include specialising in deliveries to specific premises, such as laboratories and hospitals.
- Multi-drop delivery driving – delivering items to multiple locations for clients.
- Pharmacy delivery driving – delivering medical supplies to the pharmacies and dispensaries, sometimes in temperature-controlled transport.
- Temperature-controlled delivery driving – delivering items that are temperature sensitive that require ambient, chilled or frozen conditions. It can include food, pharmaceuticals and laboratory samples.
- Vehicle delivery driving – delivering new and used vehicles to clients. Drivers may also require towing experience.
Some delivery drivers can also choose to work days, nights or weekends. There are plenty of roles from which to choose.
All different delivery driving roles will require differing knowledge, skills, experience and qualities. However, all drivers must be able to drive a vehicle, have the correct licence/experience, plan routes, work to tight deadlines, deliver items efficiently, securely and safely, and be honest and trustworthy.
Any additional areas of expertise will depend on what a company is looking for (if employed) and the work a delivery driver wants. Further training will usually be necessary for specialised roles.
If delivery drivers do not do their role correctly, it can cause issues for clients and customers. If items are not delivered to the correct recipient or are lost, it can compromise people’s information and may result in stolen items.
Significant delays may seriously affect businesses and individuals, and if items are critical and urgent, e.g. medical supplies, it can cost lives. Therefore, whatever the type of role, delivery drivers must have the necessary competence to carry out the work professionally and safely. They should also know the limits of their competency, i.e. only carry out the tasks if they are trained and competent.
Standards, codes, technology, vehicles, goods and laws are updated regularly. Therefore, delivery drivers must keep ahead of the latest developments and changes in legislation to remain legally compliant and carry out their roles effectively and safely. Continuing professional development (CPD) gives delivery drivers the knowledge and skills to keep up to date with these changes and understand their responsibilities. It also helps them to provide the best possible service and progress in their career.
Joining a professional body, not-for-profit organisation, union and association (as previously mentioned) can help prospective and current delivery drivers enhance their skills and overall career. These may offer different levels of membership, CPD and access to industry contacts and networking events.
There is ample opportunity for career progression for delivery drivers. With more qualifications and experience, they can become a delivery coordinator who manages a team or work more on the customer service and sales side. They can also decide to become a specialist delivery driver, e.g. medical or mail. Alternatively, they may become self-employed.
Knowledge, skills and experience from delivery driving can also lead to a career in different areas. For example, individuals could use their driving skills for other roles or enrol on a training course to get a large goods vehicle (LGV) licence, opening up opportunities in freight and logistics. They could also deliver money and high-value items with specialist training, e.g. Security Industry Association (SIA) licence and defensive driving.