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

We’ve teamed up with the AA Driving School to help you get a better idea of what Driving Instructors do, how you can qualify, and what the challenges of the job are.

What do Driving Instructors 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 those who haven’t had a very positive experience 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 include:

  • Teaching new pupils the driving basics.
  • Critiquing them in a constructive manner as they practise what they’ve learnt, in order 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, for example at junctions and roundabouts.
  • Preparing students for their driving 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 that they’re struggling with. Some students may also return to take lessons in advanced forms of driving – such as nighttime driving, or driving in rain and snow.

What skills and experience do I need to become a Driving Instructor?

To become a Driving Instructor, the right person will need to:

  • Have driving experience. You must have held your UK or foreign driving licence for at least three years.
  • Have not been banned from driving in the previous four years, and have fewer than six points on your licence.
  • Pass an enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check.
  • Show high regard for all aspects of road safety.
  • Remain calm and confident – even under pressure. If you’re someone who gets anxious behind the wheel, then a career as a Driving Instructor probably isn’t for you.
  • Be patient – everyone learns differently and some students will learn faster than others. Driving instructors should be prepared to work with students 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 to speed up your student’s learning. It’s also essential in critical moments out on the road.
  • Have good judgement and concentration. You should be able to anticipate potential problems mistakes or problems that your student may encounter ahead of time while out on the road, so that you can intervene when necessary.
  • Enjoy driving and be happy sitting in the car for several hours a day.
  • Have a good sense of direction and a basic knowledge of the roads in the area you’ll be teaching. This is important so that you can confidently direct your student and reroute them if they make a wrong turn.
  • Have a positive and encouraging attitude – especially when coaching less confident students.
  • Be reliable and trustworthy. As a Driving Instructor, you’re placed in a position of trust and your students are likely to perform better if they feel comfortable and safe in your presence.

What will I love about being a Driving Instructor?

Man in front of AA Driving School Car
  • 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 of being a Driving Instructor?

  • Driving lessons can be unpredictable. During lessons, it can be difficult to know what your students are going to do next. And although you may have dual controls, it’s important to make sure you’re always on the ball and can react quickly if things don’t go to plan.
  • Expensing the car you use to teach in. Because your car will be used so often by learners, it’s likely to experience more wear and tear than usual and require repairs more often. You’ll also need to factor in other expenses 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 unless there’s a replacement available, 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?

As a Driving Instructor, you’ll typically 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 like the AA, 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.

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Are there opportunities to progress?

A lot of the progress you make as a Driving Instructor will be linked to your reputation; for example, how many students you’ve successfully taught to drive – and whether or not people are recommending your service.

However, there are also opportunities to train Driving Instructors yourself, to move into other roles like a Driving Test Examiner, or to offer lessons for more advanced driving courses such as Pass Plus. 

How do I get started?

In order 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)

The DVSA 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.

2. Begin your Driving Instructor Training

Once your initial DVSA application has been approved, you’ll need to begin Driving Instructor training. This training will prepare you for three qualifying tests.

The DVSA tests that you’ll need to pass in order to qualify are:

  • Part One: Theory and Hazard Perception
  • Part Two: Driving Ability
  • Part Three: Instructional Ability Test

Driving Instructor training 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.

Alternatively, the AA Driving School offers a blended approach to complete all three tests together. This means that after passing Part One and Part Two, and completing 40 hours of Part Three, trainees can join the AA Trainee Partner franchise and begin teaching pupils while still training.

3. Apply for your first Approved Driving Instructor (ADI) badge

Once you’ve successfully completed your Driving Instructor training and passed each of the three qualifying tests, you’ll have 12 months to apply for your first Approved Driving Instructor (ADI) badge.

The application incurs a fee, but once you have it, you won’t need to renew it for four years. The badge means you’re allowed to get out on the road and charge students money for your teaching service.

Beginning your career as a Driving Instructor

aa driving school instructor

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. Others, however, prefer to go it alone and work on a self-employed basis, choosing their own schedule.

Becoming a Driving Instructor for a franchise

If you decide to become a Driving Instructor for a franchise, it’s important to find out whether you’ll be required to pay a franchise fee. While 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.

Benefits of becoming a Driving Instructor for franchises like the AA Driving School include:

  • Expert guidance on how to get started and optimise your earnings.
  • Build a steady client base with uncapped pupil supply so you can focus on teaching.
  • Get a branded, fully insured, dual controlled car delivered to you.
  • Hands-on support and guidance available from your team and trainers.

Becoming a self-employed Driving Instructor

If you decide to take the self-employed route, 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.

Benefits of becoming a self-employed Driving Instructor include being your own boss and working the hours that you want to.

Good luck!

If you’re interested in reading about and exploring other driving opportunities, then you might want to have a read of our article, Top driving roles that offer flexibility and freedom, or our career change guide, How to become a Bus Driver.