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How do I become a digger driver UK?


The UK construction industry is ever-evolving, with exciting opportunities for those interested in manual and mechanical roles. One such role that has seen consistent demand over the years is that of a digger driver. This article delves into the process of becoming a digger driver in the UK, detailing the necessary training, qualifications, and tips to get started in this fulfilling profession.

Digger Driver Training

Why Training is Essential

Operating heavy machinery, especially in populated areas, requires a great deal of skill and precision. Mistakes can be costly, both in terms of damage and potential harm. As such, thorough training is paramount to ensure safety and efficiency on the job.

Training Providers

There are numerous training providers across the UK that offer courses tailored to aspiring digger drivers. When selecting a provider, it is essential to ensure they are accredited by recognized industry bodies, such as the Construction Plant Competence Scheme (CPCS) or the National Plant Operators Registration Scheme (NPORS).

Course Content

While specific courses might differ slightly in content, most will cover the following key areas:

  • Basic machine operations
  • Safety protocols and best practices
  • Routine maintenance checks
  • Excavation techniques
  • Troubleshooting and problem-solving

Duration and Costs

Typically, training courses for digger operators last between one to two weeks, depending on the specific machine and any prior experience. Costs can vary based on location and course content, but you can expect to invest anywhere from £800 to £1,500 for comprehensive training.

Qualifications and Certifications

Necessary Qualifications

After undergoing training, you’ll need to obtain a certification proving your competence. The most common certifications are:

  1. CPCS – The Construction Plant Competence Scheme
  2. NPORS – National Plant Operators Registration Scheme

Both are widely recognized in the UK construction industry, with CPCS being the more prevalent. These certifications demonstrate that the holder has received adequate training and is competent to operate specific machinery.

Getting the Card

Upon successful completion of your training and passing any necessary tests, you’ll receive a card – either a CPCS Red Trained Operator Card or an NPORS card. This card is essential for finding employment, as most employers require proof of certification.

Finding Employment

Where to Look

Once certified, the next step is finding employment. There are numerous avenues for job hunting, including:

  • Construction job boards
  • Recruitment agencies specializing in construction roles
  • Direct applications to construction companies


As with many professions, networking can prove invaluable. Joining industry-specific forums, attending trade shows, or becoming a member of construction associations can provide crucial connections that lead to job opportunities.

Salary Expectations

Starting Salary

As a newly qualified digger driver in the UK, you can expect a starting salary of between £20,000 to £25,000 annually. Your pay will largely depend on your location, the size and nature of the projects you undertake, and the specific company you work for.

Experienced Operator Salary

With several years of experience and a track record of reliable, efficient work, your salary can grow significantly. Experienced digger drivers can earn anywhere from £30,000 to £40,000 or even more, especially if they take on more complex or specialised roles.

Career Advancements and Specialisations

Site Supervisory Roles

One of the natural progressions for a digger driver is into supervisory roles. These roles might involve overseeing the work of other operators, ensuring safety protocols are followed, and liaising between different teams on a construction site.

Specialised Machinery Operation

Beyond traditional diggers, the construction industry offers a myriad of specialised machinery that requires unique training. By gaining qualifications to operate other machinery, such as tower cranes or tunnel boring machines, you can diversify your skills and increase your earning potential.

Renewing Certifications

The Importance of Staying Current

As with many professional certifications, those for digger drivers need periodic renewal. This ensures that operators are always up-to-date with the latest safety protocols and machinery advancements.

Renewal Process

Usually, the CPCS and NPORS cards require renewal every five years. The renewal might involve a combination of refresher training, retesting, and proving recent work experience. It’s essential to stay aware of your card’s expiration date and initiate the renewal process well in advance.

Health and Safety Considerations

Physical Health

Operating heavy machinery often involves long hours in a sedentary position. Regular breaks, stretching, and maintaining good posture can help prevent musculoskeletal issues. Additionally, wearing the correct protective equipment, like safety boots and high-visibility clothing, is vital.

Mental Well-being

The responsibility of operating heavy machinery can be stressful. It’s essential to have mechanisms for managing stress, getting adequate sleep, and ensuring you’re mentally fit for the job each day.

Continuous Training

Technologies and techniques in construction evolve over time. Enrolling in continuous training courses ensures that you’re always equipped with the most recent knowledge, reducing the risk of accidents caused by unfamiliarity with equipment or procedures.


“Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out.” – Robert Collier

Becoming a digger driver in the UK is a process that requires dedication, training, and determination. With the right training and a proactive approach to job hunting, you can forge a successful and rewarding career in this sector. Remember always to prioritize safety and continue learning to stay ahead in this ever-evolving industry.

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