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Courier Driver

A courier driver normally spends their day collecting packages and documents and then driving them to their end location. This destination could be a sorting office for redistribution or directly to the client; both may be either local or cross country. If you like driving and are willing to handle being self employed or work for a larger company, becoming a courier driver is a good choice out of possible driving jobs.

Skills Needed

No qualifications are needed to become a courier driver but obviously a full UK driving licence is essential and the less points you have on that licence the better. Potential employers would look for certain traits in their driver; good command of the English language, a decent degree of math skills, promptness, reliability and honesty is key also. If you do have a criminal record, this may hinder the process slightly but I am unsure of the legality of this, obviously potential employers cannot be discriminatory.

What the Job entails

For the most part, you would be driving from place to place but the working day normally starts with heading to a depot or main base of operations. Here you will collect your assignments of the day with relevant addresses or locations. For multi-drop drivers this will mean a different route and addresses every single day and for routed runs just means making the same journey, collecting or delivering the same items. Throughout this process paperwork will need to be maintained, whether this is getting signatures from customers or recording distances.

Local Knowledge

This is an essential skill for any driver who operates within a local area, whether it be a taxi driver who needs to know everywhere or a bus driver (although their route dictates this). Getting to the location as soon as possible can make your work that little easier and save on fuel, so knowing shortcuts really helps. It is also useful to know what roads suffer from congestion and at what times. Unless you come from a previous driving job, you will learn this skill with time and spending evenings looking at maps of your area of operation can help when planning your route for the next day.

Courier Driver

Hours

If you look online at the proposed hours of a courier driver you will see “30-40 hours” being thrown around and this may well be the case for some but in reality it is more. Obviously the more overtime, evening and week shifts you get the more money you can earn, so no driver just limits it to “30 hours”! Many drivers will confess to driving hours of 50 to 60 a week and sometimes more, with starting their day at 05.00hrs and finishing at 19.00hrs.

Income

If you are driving for a major firm then you could well see an initial starting salary of up to £15,000 which can go up to £20,000 per year for the more experienced. However some companies are structured so you can clime the ranks and have drivers working under you so more could be earnt. If you are self employed then how much you earn is ultimately up to you and the availability of the work but being aware of the tax you have to pay should always be considered and put aside as they will want to collect this at the end of the year.

Vehicle

If you are working for a large company on a full time basis then they should have their own fleet of vehicles which you would use. However if you are self employed you would need your own vehicle and there are two route you can take, buy your own vehicle or lease a vehicle, both of which have their pros and cons.

Own Vehicle

  • Pro: You purchase a vehicle to the amount you can afford.
  • Con: Maintenance Costs can be high after the vehicle has exceed its warranty.

Lease Vehicle

  • Pro: Maintenance, tax and sometimes insurance is all handled by the leasing company.
  • Con: Cost to lease a vehicle for a professional driver is expensive and you never own it.

Motorcycles & Bicycles

For the most part people think of courier drivers as van owners only; however, this is not the case. Motorcycles and bicycles are very useful for speedy deliveries within towns and cities as they can negotiate the traffic a lot quicker and won’ t get stuck in rush hour as much. There are also some opportunities for long distance motorcycles to deliver small packages or perform special delivery tasks like passport collection services.

Insurance

Every vehicle on the highway has to be insured and for a courier driver this is no different, especially with the amount of miles you will cover. If you are driving local routes then this should not be too bad but the more miles the more they will charge. You should definitely search comparison sites for the best deal.

Fuel

The bane of the self employed courier driver. Fuel prices keep increasing and this makes it tricky to make a decent living in comparison to 15 years ago, but there are a few things you can do:

  • Make sure to sign up with a petrol station and get a business account, you will pay a better rate.
  • Ensure you have a diesel vehicle and not a petrol guzzling one.
  • If driving in town open the windows on a hot day, but use the air-con (if you have it) when travelling over 50mph.
  • Keep the revs low and don’t driver like a maniac.
  • Ensure your vehicle is well maintained; tires, water and oil all aid the efficiently of the vehicle and the miles per gallon you get out of it.

Image Credit- Flickr

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