By Debbie Holden 16 Jun 2020 7 min read

How to become a driving instructor


Considering a career change can be daunting, especially in the current economic climate. But if you’re interested in becoming a driving instructor, the good news is that you can get started straight away!

If you are looking for a career that allows you to be self-employed and be in control of your hours, but also would like the support from a bigger, more established company, then a career as a driving instructor could be ideal for you.

Below we have included some pros and cons of a career as a driving instructor, as well as the process you will have to go through to get you started.


The process of becoming a driving instructor

Before any tests are completed, you must meet the following criteria:

  • Obtain a criminal record disclosure through the Capita Recruitment Vetting Service (CRVS)
  • Be over the age of 21
  • Have held a full, clean driving licence for 3+ years
  • Be able to read a vehicle registration plate from 27.5 metres
  • Have not been disqualified at all in the last 4 years (4 points and under on your licence are unlikely to affect your application)


If you qualify under these requirements you may go on to take the Approved Driving Instructor (ADI) tests, which are made up of the following three parts:

Test 1: This part of the test is very much like the standard driving theory test – it’s computer based and set out as two parts – theory and hazard perception. There are 100 multiple choice questions to answer of which you must achieve a pass mark of 85%. This part takes an hour and a half before you move onto the hazard perception section which takes 20 minutes and requires you to get 57 out of 75 marks. The test costs £90 and can be retaken until passed.

Test 2: The practical test. Over the course of an hour you will be required to demonstrate your driving ability, maneuvering the car safely and fully under control. To pass you must commit no more than 6 minor faults or one serious fault. The test can only be taken up to three times and costs £111 per test.

Test 3: Based on your teaching ability. Over the course of an hour, the examiner role plays as the learner driver and is marked upon how well they identify and correct mistakes. Again, this test can be taken up to three times and costs  £111 each time.

Important: Check if you can become a driving instructor


How long does it take to become a driving instructor?

Becoming a driving instructor takes around six months (at least) to complete the ADI qualification, but can take up to 12 months depending on how much time you can lend to studying. You can train around your current job though if you’re not too concerned about timing. Depending on the timeframe you do commit, 6-12 months ins’t that long to learn a new skill that can provide you a better income in the long run.

Issues that might affect the time it takes you to complete your training might include delayed DBS check or when exam dates are held. Failing exams will also set you back, which is why it;s a good idea to really commit to your training the first time around.

Prior to the exam, you must also have had a clean driving licence for 3+ years.


What’s the average salary for a driving instructor?

The average salary for a driving instructor is around the £30,000 mark. However, there are multiple variables that can change this, depending on how much or how little you work, for example, as well as other expenses including fuel costs, renting a fully maintained car or buying and maintaining your own car (which can become very costly if there are small accidents here and there). If you’re just starting out as a driving instructor, don’t expect to make alot – you’ll start much further down because you need to build your reputation. Not everyone will hit the £30,000 mark, but if you are a successful instructor with excellent retention, referrals and business acumen, this could easily be done.

Hourly rate could also be a factor. Independent instructors can make an average hourly rate of £25, whereas those working for a big company manage around 30 hours a week at an hourly rate of £25 – £30. You will of course have to pay a fee towards the company too. Many instructors choose not to overcharge too, because the cheapest or lowest deal is usually the biggest factor that determines whether young adults (the biggest market) want to learn to drive with you, and therefore make more cash from volume, not price. Stick to a reasonable cost though to ensure you don’t end up overbooked but not actually making much cash in comparison.


The pros and cons of becoming a driving instructor 

  • Flexible working hours: Planning your own working  weeks means that you can fit lessons around your own schedule, and you can potentially to take as many or little holidays as you see fit. However a driving instructor still needs to be fairly flexible to earn a liveable salary. Many learners will want to have their lessons outside of work or school time, and this could mean you need to work some evenings or weekends in order to earn a higher income.
  • Earning potential: Driving instructors who are fully booked can earn up to and beyond £30,000 a year. The earnings of each driving instructor depends on the  amount of hours each individual is willing to work, as well as the number of students they are able to obtain.
  • Satisfaction: Driving instructors are helping people to gain a valuable life skill, and seeing their student pass as a result of their instruction can be a very satisfying moment. Of course there will always be some students that are more of a challenge as learners from others – but this is where good training and guidance from a franchise or driving school can really help.


Career options for new driving instructors 

There are a few options for you if you are considering becoming a driving instructor.


  • Set up on your independently as a ‘sole trader’: This means you will have full control over your business, will not have to pay any fees to a franchise or school, and you will have a lot more control over your hours. However, it also means you will be solely responsible for finding pupils, advertising your business and all of the other responsibilities that come with running a business. You may also be competing with larger, well established businesses which can be difficult for first time driving instructors.
  • Become a driving instructor with a driving school that’s already well established: The school will charge you a monthly fee to being part of their operation, and this will go towards the marketing & promotion of the whole school, finding pupils for you, and also often will include the rental of an instructor car. Being part of a bigger driving school also means you have a lot more support if you are having difficulties. For most, starting off with a school is the best option to allow them to get proper training, and allow them to focus on the earnings rather than trying to promote the business as well.


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