If you are looking for a way of making money either full or part-time, becoming a courier may be a good idea. However like all jobs there are pros and cons to consider. A huge advantage of courier work is that you can very often decide on your own working hours, and to a large degree you would be your own boss, but on the debit side it can be hard with long and often unsociable hours and quite a fair bit of commitment.

To help you decide whether or not this is a job that you would like to go into we have listed some of the advantages and disadvantages below; but to start with let us define just what a courier actually is.

What is a courier?

At its simplest, the courier is someone who transports and delivers goods belonging to other people, and is paid to do so. This may mean carrying goods from a warehouse or other central distribution point to other warehouses, retail premises, factories, or even private homes.

Common goods that are carried by couriers include food (particularly hot food such as takeaways, pizzas, burgers et cetera) but this list extends to less mundane products such as medical equipment, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, and even blood products.

Courier jobs fall into many different categories; these include parcel delivery, transportation of refrigerated goods, and even delivery of livestock; all of which require their own particular skill sets. Some couriers have a regular route delivering to the same customers over and over again, others, perhaps the majority, make multiple deliveries to many different people during a single day's work.

Work providers can include restaurants, large distribution companies, supermarkets, farming concerns and fast food outlets.

Pros of the job

The one advantage that many couriers consider the main one is the freedom that many of them have to pick and choose the deliveries that they wish to take on, the areas that they cover, and the times of day that they work in. This is particularly helpful to people who need part-time work only, that they can fit in with other commitments.

Many couriers enjoyed the travel that is involved. They have the opportunity to visit parts of their own town or even their own country that they would not otherwise see, and they would have the opportunity to meet many different people, whether they were delivering vital medications to hospitals, or Chinese meals to students living in halls of residence.

Disadvantages of the job

There are negative aspects to every type of work and being a courier is no different. Sometimes the work can be very tiring with long hours spent both collecting and delivering goods. Deliverers can find themselves under pressure to complete deliveries as quickly as possible, whilst still being aware of their responsibilities to drive carefully and safely, with due concern for other road users. They may be asked to make deliveries at short notice; they may have to go out during poor weather conditions.

And at the end of the day, since many couriers work in the so-called gig economy, there can be little job security.

Another disadvantage is one which is not appreciated as much as it should be; couriers often have to pay out quite substantial sums to provide and maintain their own transport. Granted, there is often a mileage allowance in order to compensate them for fuel costs but they will still often pay for their own vehicles, maintain them, tax them and insure them.

Being on the road for long periods can not only be tiring but it can also be risky as well, particularly for couriers who make deliveries in smaller vehicles, or even scooters. Many food couriers in particular use scooters because they are both nippy and economical to run, but in bad weather they can be very uncomfortable and in the event of a collision with another vehicle the scooter rider inevitably comes off worse!

Work is often irregular; and can be seasonal too. Couriers who are on call can often have long periods of inactivity (during which, of course, they're not likely to be paid) followed by periods of frantic and sometimes exhausting work.

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Are couriers well-paid?

This is like asking how long is a piece of string, since it depends upon many factors, not least of all the type of deliveries that are made, and the company that the courier is working for. Many of them that work for companies such as Yodel can earn anything up to around £50,000 a year, whilst those working for smaller companies or even local shops or food outlets can substantially less.

Many couriers however are completely self-employed with no regular supply of work but they are free of course to set up their own deals with companies they decide to deliver goods for. There is a large demand for self-employed people like this from companies that do not have their own distribution division, and many people have started off in a small way but built quite large businesses -and substantial incomes - catering for this type of market.

What are the hours of work?

Again this varies enormously. However there is one common factor; the most successful couriers are those who are prepared to work long hours, including during evenings and weekends. Those that work for larger companies often have fixed hours of work; others may just be able to pick and choose which deliveries they wish to take on and which ones they prefer to let go to someone else. The important thing however is that they must be reliable; many products which are delivered are time sensitive, and so it is vital that they are delivered on time.

So to sum up; the job may be a full-time one, or one that can be carried out for just a few hours per week, to fit in with a busy life schedule.

What type of jobs are available?

Just about everything that is ever produced has to be delivered somewhere, so there are huge numbers of different products that are carried, but many of them fall into certain categories, such as:

  • Food couriers. Demand for these boomed during the Covid epidemic but it has continued and despite the economic climate there are still millions of people who like to have food delivered, hot, to their door. Perhaps the majority of food couriers are part-time workers riding scooters or driving small cars, and getting their work through companies such as Deliveroo, Just Eat and Uber Eats.
  • Parcel couriers. Many of these work for large distribution companies such as Hermes, DHL, Parcelforce or Yodel; some are self-employed and some directly employed by the distributors. They generally have well-defined routes to cover and a fixed number of deliveries that they must achieve per day.
  • Livestock couriers. These transport live animals and it is usually a job which is carried out by people who have had farming experience. There is a fair bit of paperwork involved; you would need a transporter authorisation, you would probably need a certificate of vehicle approval and either a journey log or an animal transport certificate, plus evidence that you was competent to transport animals.
  • Vehicle parts delivery. Garages repairing or maintaining vehicles usually need spare parts at very short notice so stockists rely on couriers driving small vans to get them to where they are needed, quickly. A good working knowledge vehicle mechanics would be a good asset for this job.
  • Heavy machinery delivery. This is more specialised work and often requires training and certification in handling specialised lifting equipment.

Is it a safe job to have?

Like any job which involves a lot of time spent on the road there are certain risks involved, which can be minimised by staying alert, driving carefully within recognise speed limits, wearing high viz jackets when necessary, and obeying all the rules of the road.

Those using scooters for deliveries are unfortunately at the highest risk of injury on the road, particularly since so many of them are young with little driving or riding experience, which is a reason why their insurance costs tend to be a lot higher than for other road users.

The greatest risk to safety is pressure to get deliveries made as quickly as possible; many couriers are paid per delivery so there is always a temptation to drive that little bit more quickly than it is safe to do so. A safe courier is one that is conscious of his or her own safety and responsibilities towards other road users.

Side benefits of the job

These vary of course from one job to another. Some couriers get extra perks such as tips from customers; many food delivery couriers can get meals for free or at reduced rates. Larger distribution companies can offer other benefits such as health insurance and pension schemes, paid holidays and sick pay but since the majority of couriers are self-employed these particular benefits are the exception rather than the rule.


Every driver on the road has to be properly insured and it is important to realise that couriers need a different class of insurance to normal day-to-day drivers. The fact that goods are being carried and delivered, often to a large number of customers per day, increases the claims risk for insurance companies and so couriers need to have a class of insurance called 'hire and reward' cover.

There are different classes of hire and reward cover depending upon the type of work which is carried out and the kind of products which are carried, and so specialist help is usually essential in getting the right cover.

Many delivery companies also insist upon the products that are carried be insured; this is called 'goods in transit' insurance and again there are different categories of cover with, usually, options to insure those goods against theft, accidental damage, and even product liability.


For many people a job as a courier could be absolutely ideal but it is not for everybody. Before making a decision on whether or not it would be a good career for you you really need to look at both the advantages and disadvantages; and hopefully this article will have been of help to you.

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