How to Become a Driving Instructor

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Are you a calm, confident and experienced driver? Do you enjoy being behind the wheel? As a Driving Instructor, you could help others enjoy the freedom that driving has to offer by helping them work safely towards gaining their driving licence.

What do they do?

Driving Instructors teach people of all ages and backgrounds to drive either a manual or an automatic car. Often the same Driving Instructor will see a student through from the moment they first put the key in the ignition, to the day they pass their test. However, Instructors will also take on students who perhaps have had a few lessons years ago, given up and come back to try again, or who haven’t had a very positive time with another instructor.

Students will take to driving at completely different rates – some can take weeks and others may take months (or even years).

The typical responsibilities of a Driving Instructor are:

  • Teaching new pupils the driving basics.
  • Critiquing them in a constructive manner as they practice what they’ve learned, to help them become better drivers.
  • Taking them out on public roads to show them how to make manoeuvres such as reversing, turning and parking.
  • Teaching them the rules of the road – including awareness of road signs, and how to use different traffic systems e.g. junctions and roundabouts.
  • Preparing students for their test and helping them book it.
  • Supporting pupils on test day and thereafter if things don’t go to plan and the student needs to retake the test at a later date. Even students who pass may return to their Driving Instructor for refresher lessons at some point if they need a confidence boost, or help with a particular aspect of driving they are struggling with. Some students may also return to take lessons in advanced forms of driving – such as night time driving, or driving in rain and snow.

What skills do I need?

The right person will:

  • Be calm and confident – even under pressure. If you’re someone who gets anxious behind the wheel, then a career as a Driving Instructor is probably not for you.
  • Be patient – everyone learns differently and some students will learn faster than others. Driving instructors should be prepared to work with a student for as long as they need in order to pass their test.
  • Have excellent communication skills – being able to communicate clearly and succinctly will help speed up your student’s learning, but it is also essential in critical moments out on the road.
  • Have good judgement and concentration. You should be able to see potential problems on the road and mistakes that your student may make ahead of time, so that you can intervene when necessary.
  • Have driving experience. You must have held your licence for at least three years.
  • Enjoy driving and be happy sitting in the car for several hours a day.
  • Have a good sense of direction, so you can confidently direct your student and reroute them if they make a wrong turn.
  • Have an encouraging attitude, especially when dealing with less confident students.
  • Be reliable and trustworthy. You’ll be placed in a position of trust and your students will perform better if they feel comfortable and safe in your presence.

What will I love about the job?

how to become a driving instructor
  • The opportunity to help others get out on the road (safely!).
  • Flexibility – being able to work to your own schedule.
  • Seeing the progress that your students are making.
  • Helping transform even the most underconfident pupils into safe competent drivers.
  • Meeting new people.

What are the challenges?

  • Unpredictability. It can be difficult to know what your students are going to do next. And although you may have dual controls, you have to make sure you’re on the ball and can react quickly if things don’t go to plan.
  • Costs related to the car you use to teach in. Because your car will be used so often by learners, it will experience more wear and tear than usual and is likely to need repairs carrying out more often. You’ll also have things like petrol and insurance costs, which can be high.
  • Relying on your car for business. If your car breaks down, or has to go into the garage for repairs for any length of time, then you won’t be able to work during that period.
  • Dealing with unreliable students. Driving Instructors sometimes take on students who turn out to be flaky or unreliable, meaning they don’t always turn up to lessons, or they cancel at the last minute. This means that you may have to implement policies to prevent this, for example, charging students for last minute cancellations.

How much will I earn?

As a Driving Instructor, you’ll usually earn £20-£30 per hour, depending on what area(s) you teach in and whether you choose to take a franchise route with a driving school, or be your own boss. It will also depend on whether you decide to charge for blocks of lessons, or offer people intensive driving courses, which may work out at a slightly different rate.

It’s important to tally up the cost of your overheads (especially when working on a self-employed basis), and work out how much you need to charge to make a profit.

Are there opportunities to progress?

A lot of the progress you make as a Driving Instructor will be linked to your reputation e.g. how many students you’ve successfully taught to drive, and how many students are recommending you to other people because they were happy with your service. However, there are also opportunities to move into other areas, such as becoming a Driving Test Examiner, offering more advanced courses e.g. Pass Plus, or training Driving Instructors.

How do I get started?

To become an Approved Driving Instructor (ADI), you’ll need to complete a fairly straightforward three-step process.

  1. Apply to the Driving Standards Vehicle Agency (DVSA) who will assess your suitability for the role. They usually accept people who are:
  • Aged 21 or over.
  • Have had a full car driving license for at least 3 years.
  • Be qualified to drive the same category of vehicle you’re supervising your students in.

    You must also complete a criminal record check before you can submit your application (for a fee of £6), even if you’d had one done for other things in the past.

  1. Once your initial application has been approved, you’ll be able to start your Driving Instructor Training which will prepare you for three qualifying tests, and is offered by a wide range of driving schools across the country. Although the training (and tests) come at a cost, you can often successfully complete each test within a matter of weeks at a test centre near you.
  1. When you’ve successfully completed training and passed each of the three qualifying tests, you’ll have 12 months to apply for your first Approved Driving Instructor (ADI) badge – there’s a fee for this but once you have it, you won’t need to renew it for four years. The badge means you are now allowed to get out on the road and charge students money for your teaching service.

Where next?

When starting out as an Approved Driving Instructor (ADI), some people prefer to work for a driving school franchise first whilst they build up confidence in their teaching ability, whilst others prefer to go it alone and work on a self-employed basis, choosing their own schedule.

If you decide to go with a franchise then, it’s important to find out whether you will be required to pay a franchise fee. Whilst these are annoying, they can be worth it as you won’t have to worry about advertising your services or bringing in clients, as the franchise will do that for you.

If you decide to go self-employed then it’s worth advertising your services on social media, and asking friends and family to recommend you to people they know. Once you’ve had a handful of people successfully pass their test with you, then it’s likely that they’ll pass your details on to other people who are looking to start their driving journey, and gradually your client base will build.

Alternatively, if you’re interested in reading about and exploring other driving opportunities, you may find it useful to read our guide on driving roles that offer flexibility and freedom for further ideas and inspiration.

Good luck!

Are you considering a career as a Driving Instructor? Or perhaps you are already a Driving Instructor and would love to share your experience with others? We’d love to hear from you at [email protected].

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