5 tips on how to become a courier driver (With examples)

Updated 10 March 2023

Parcel delivery and courier services are essential industries. Many people rely on delivery services to bring goods like groceries, packages and meals to their homes. For job seekers, this growing demand for courier drivers can provide a wealth of job opportunities. In this article, we cover how to become a courier with top tips and example job titles to start this new career.

How to become a courier

One reason you might want to know how to become a courier is that you require no prior training or qualifications to begin working. All you require is a valid driving licence, a suitable vehicle and excellent knowledge of your local geography. Here are five tips on how to begin your career:

1. Practise your driving skills

The primary role of a courier is to deliver a package, parcel or message to the intended recipient, so driving is an essential skill. Whether you choose to work independently or with an existing courier service, practising your driving skills can improve the speed and quality of your service. Remember to always drive safely and take regular breaks to prevent fatigue on the roads. Some ways to enhance your driving skills include:

  • practice driving during the day and at night

  • use a reliable sat-nav to navigate your local area

  • learn the traffic systems in your area

  • drive short and long-distance journeys

  • respond to new traffic developments quickly and calmly

2. Find a suitable vehicle

You require a vehicle that's well-suited to courier work to succeed in your role. When choosing a vehicle, it's vital to consider the type of packages you transport to find a car or van of an appropriate size. Ensure your vehicle is comfortable for long periods of driving and check online reviews to see if it's a reliable model. If you're using your car or van for business purposes, you may update your insurance policy to cover your vehicle. Contact your insurance provider to check which cover is best for your courier work.

3. Register your business

If you're starting an independent courier business, register your new business with HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC). This ensures you pay the correct tax, possess any licences you may require, and stay within current legislation. To complete this process, outline your business plan and model to provide HMRC with accurate information. For example, you know whether you're a sole trader, partnership, or limited company to establish your legal structure. As an independent courier, you're likely to classify as a sole trader or as self-employed. If you're unsure about how your income fits into these classifications, talk to HMRC for advice.

Related: 14 self-employed jobs in the UK

4. Market your services

Once you're set up as a business, marketing your services as a courier and building your income are the subsequent essential steps. There are several ways to market a business, but they depend on your intended target audience for the courier service. For example, you could focus on personal, home deliveries or courier driving for businesses. Perhaps you can specialise your courier services for specific industries, such as food and catering, fragile goods, confidential materials, or bulky items. Consider these industry niches when marketing your independent courier services. Some quick, cost-effective ways to market your courier business include:

  • purchase a car wrap or sticker to advertise your services as you drive

  • use social media to showcase your expertise as a courier

  • set up a website that enables clients to place orders with you

  • email prospective companies to ask if they're looking for a courier contract

  • pay for advertisements in local guides and business books

5. Build a regular client base

To maintain a consistent income as a courier driver, you need a regular client base to rely on for work. This stage can take time as it requires a positive professional reputation and an established presence in the local courier market, so patience is essential. Setting up contracts with local businesses is a fantastic way to secure regular work as a courier and can help expand your services with business connections and referrals.

Related: Business development skills: definition and examples

A courier's day-to-day role

A courier's daily tasks vary depending on the types of deliveries they make. From long haul trips to bulky items, independent couriers adapt to flexible schedules and often long working hours. With heavy lifting and prolonged driving sessions, a courier's work can become physically demanding at times. On an average day, a courier's duties may include:

  • collecting packages from scheduled pickup points with clients

  • sorting the parcels for delivery

  • planning travel routes and adapting them according to traffic

  • delivering packages to the correct address or depot

  • signing for packages and recording signatures upon delivery

  • maintaining paperwork and delivery records for clients

What's the average salary for courier drivers?

According to recent surveys, the average salary for a courier driver is £20,690 per year, equating to approximately £12.55 per hour. When independent couriers are just starting, the entry-level salary for courier drivers is around £14,500 per year. With more experience in the industry and a few years of well-established business, a courier's salary can reach up to £40,000 per year. These higher-level salaries are particularly the case for specialist couriers who service a specific industry niche or expand their business to work as part of a fleet.

Related: Difference between salary and wage and how to calculate them

Essential skills for couriers

As a courier, the quality of your customer service and delivery skills are essential to the job. In navigating how to become a courier driver, some vital skills include:

  • Navigation skills: Deliveries can range far and wide, so it's essential to know how to navigate unfamiliar areas alongside your local ones.

  • Time management: If you have multiple deliveries to make in one day, you benefit from managing your time effectively.

  • Customer relations: Working with people and their businesses provides independent couriers with their primary source of income, so having a friendly, approachable and professional appearance is essential.

  • Excellent concentration: Driving for extended periods is part of a courier's job, meaning attention is a crucial skill for driving safely and smoothly.

  • Organisation: From arranging parcels into their delivery order to balancing pickups with drop-offs, organisational skills are a daily aspect of any courier's role.

  • Financial management: Independent couriers calculate the cost of their transport services and delivery fee, issue invoices to businesses, and keep track of their tax returns.

Example jobs for becoming a courier driver

While becoming a courier is one role in the professional delivery and driving sectors, there are numerous jobs linked to this line of work. Here are some connected professions and job titles to consider when establishing your career as a courier driver:

1. Taxi driver

National average salary: £25,531 per year

Primary duties: Cab or taxi drivers are much like couriers, except their role is to transport people from one location to another. This position requires friendly people skills and often a permit from the local council to operate as a taxi. While taxi drivers often work extended or late hours, the job enables you to meet all sorts of people.

2. Delivery driver

National average salary: £28,295 per year

Primary duties: Delivery drivers have a very similar role to couriers. While couriers tend to guarantee next day delivery and work with independent businesses or individuals, delivery drivers usually fit into a goods supply chain. Delivery drivers pick up a customer's order from their company's distribution centre and deliver it to the customer, meaning most delivery drivers are not self-employed.

Related: How to become a delivery driver: a step-by-step guide

3. Mail sorter

National average salary: £19,631 per year

Primary duties: While couriers and delivery drivers transport the goods to a customer, a mail sorter or warehouse operative prepares the package and ensures it goes in the right direction. They operate the other side of the goods and delivery services. The job requires excellent organisation skills.

4. Haulage specialist

National average salary: £35,940 per year

Primary duties: Also known as large goods vehicle drivers, HGV drivers, and lorry drivers, these transport specialists deliver more oversized, bulkier items to businesses and individuals. Haulage specialists often work for longer hours, driving substantial and sometimes international distances. Plus, these drivers need special licences to operate the larger trucks, making their skills sought after.

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at the time of writing. Salaries‌ ‌may‌ ‌‌vary‌‌ ‌depending‌ ‌on‌ ‌the‌ ‌hiring‌ ‌organisation‌ ‌and‌ ‌a‌ ‌candidate's‌ ‌experience,‌ ‌academic‌ background‌ ‌and‌ ‌location.‌ Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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