If you are wondering how to become a courier, below are tips and advice on training for and beginning careers within the transport industry, as well as logistics job prospects in the UK.

    The Job Description
    Couriers, or dispatch riders, transport items such as packages, documents and messages, which need urgent delivery. These may include valuable items or confidential documents. They usually work within larger towns and cities, although some work may involve cross-country deliveries.

    A courier’s day-to-day tasks normally include:

    collecting the daily schedule of pick-up points and delivery addresses (multi-drops) from the depot controller, either in person or by radio contact
    planning routes and sorting packages into order of dropping-off points
    finding the quickest route to delivery addresses
    signing for packages when they pick them up and taking signatures upon delivery
    keeping paperwork and delivery records up to date.
    Couriers mainly use vans or motorcycles but in larger cities some employers use bicycle couriers.

    Most couriers will be responsible for general care and cleaning of their vans or for making sure their motorcycles are roadworthy.

    Person Specification
    The key personal attributes of good couriers include:

    an enjoyment of driving/motorcycling, with an appropriate licence
    excellent driving skills and road sense
    good communication skills
    good literacy and numeracy skills to keep delivery and expenses records
    the ability to work to tight schedules
    the ability to work alone
    a pleasant manner and be completely reliable and trustworthy
    good geographical knowledge and the ability to read maps and plan routes
    good fitness levels.

    How to become a courier
    You do not need any formal academic qualifications to be a courier, but employers tend to look for good literacy and numeracy skills to deal with relevant paperwork and follow directions.

    You normally have to be over 17, although employers may prefer you if you are over 21 (25 for van drivers) because of insurance premiums.

    You will need a current driving licence appropriate to the type of vehicle you are using, and have a good driving record. If you want to work as a motorcycle courier, you will normally need your own vehicle with road tax and MOT.

    A basic knowledge of vehicle maintenance could also be an advantage, and foreign language skills would be useful if you were dealing with overseas deliveries.

    Training and Development
    Once you are working as a courier, you can do on-the-job training and work towards NVQ Carry and Deliver Goods at Level 2.

    Mandatory NVQ units include:

    safety and security
    customer service
    planning routes and delivery times
    transporting goods and materials.
    You can also add optional units, which cover:

    dealing with payments
    handling goods (motorcycle or pedal cycle)
    transferring loads with machinery (for example by forklift truck).

    The Pay (a rough guide)
    Starting salaries are around £10,000 to £12,000 a year
    Experienced couriers can earn between £14,000 and £20,000 a year
    Motorcycle couriers in the London area can earn up to £23,000, although part of this will be taken up by fuel, insurance and equipment costs
    Many companies offer bonuses or guarantees for full attendance and/or covering a certain amount of work.

    Job Prospects
    You can find employment as a courier with local and national delivery firms, small businesses like copy-design shops, and large organisations with their own delivery section.

    Motorcycle couriers can be employed on a fixed wage, or work on a self-employed, freelance basis. Most of the opportunities for motorcycle couriers are in major cities, particularly in London.

    With knowledge and experience, you can become a depot controller or start your own courier business.

    Useful logistics or transport resources:
    Skills for Logistics
    14 Warren Yard
    Warren Farm Office Village
    Stratford Road
    Milton Keynes
    MK12 5NW
    Tel: 0870 242 7314

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