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How do I get a digger Licence?

How Do I Get a Digger Licence in the UK?

The construction industry is vast, and the machinery involved is as diverse as the projects they support. Among these machines, diggers or excavators play a pivotal role in the success of numerous construction tasks. As with most heavy machinery, operating an excavator requires specialised knowledge, skill, and more importantly, a licence. For those in the UK keen to get their hands on the controls, here’s a detailed guide on how to obtain a digger licence.

Excavator License Requirements

1. Age and Health Restrictions

Before considering training or testing, ensure you meet the basic prerequisites. First and foremost, applicants must be at least 18 years old. Additionally, a good level of physical and mental fitness is paramount due to the demanding nature of operating heavy machinery. It’s often recommended to undergo a health check-up to ensure suitability for the role.

2. Training with an Accredited Organisation

Once the basics are out of the way, the next step is to receive proper training. The UK offers a range of courses tailored to excavator operations. Many of these are affiliated with the Construction Plant Competence Scheme (CPCS), a recognised certification in the industry.

“The best investment you can make is in quality training. Your skills and safety depend on it.”

3. Passing the Theory Test

After your training, you’ll be required to sit for a theory test. This test assesses your knowledge on safety procedures, operational techniques, and more. Make sure to revise thoroughly, as a solid understanding of these concepts is crucial.

4. Practical Skills Test

Once you’ve successfully passed the theory test, you’ll move on to the practical skills test. Here, you’ll demonstrate your ability to operate an excavator safely and efficiently in real-world scenarios.

5. Renewal and Continuous Learning

It’s worth noting that like most certifications, an excavator license isn’t forever. Continuous learning and periodic renewals ensure that operators are always at the top of their game.

Excavator License Cost

1. Training Costs

The bulk of your investment will likely be in training. Courses vary in price depending on the institution and the duration.

  • Basic courses (1-3 days): £300 – £600
  • Comprehensive courses (5-10 days): £800 – £1,500

2. Testing Fees

After training, there are fees associated with taking the tests:

Theory Test£150 – £200
Practical Test£250 – £400

3. Additional Costs

Beyond training and testing, you might also incur additional costs for health check-ups, application fees, and the eventual renewal of your license. Always budget for a bit more than you anticipate.

Additional Considerations When Getting an Excavator License

Choosing the Right Training Centre

Finding the right training centre is crucial. Not only do you want to ensure you receive the best education possible, but affiliating yourself with a respected institution can also provide networking opportunities and improve your chances of securing employment post-certification.

  • Research potential training centres: Look for reviews and testimonials.
  • Visit the facility: Check the condition of their equipment and training grounds.
  • Ask about their trainers: Experienced trainers can provide invaluable insights from their time in the field.

The Importance of Hands-on Experience

While classroom learning is essential, nothing can replace the experience of operating an excavator in real-world scenarios. Many training centres offer supervised, hands-on training which can be invaluable when transitioning to a job.

“Experience is the teacher of all things.”

Job Opportunities Post-Certification

Upon receiving your excavator license, a variety of job opportunities open up:

  1. Construction Site Operator
  2. Demolition Specialist
  3. Landscaping Expert
  4. Infrastructure Development and Maintenance
  5. Quarry and Mining Operations

Additionally, with further training and experience, you can even look into roles such as site management, training, or machinery sales and leasing.

Continuous Professional Development

The construction industry is continually evolving, with new technologies and methodologies emerging. Staying updated is crucial not only for renewing your license but also for ensuring your skills remain relevant. Consider attending workshops, seminars, or further courses to expand your knowledge base.


Obtaining an excavator license in the UK is a multi-step process that demands both time and investment. However, with the right training and dedication, it’s a rewarding endeavour that opens the door to numerous opportunities in the construction industry. Always remember, while costs are a consideration, safety and competence should always be your priority.

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