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Teaching people to drive can be rewarding both emotionally and financially. And with the freedom of a flexible work schedule and the chance to be your own boss, it’s a profession with many upsides.
Wondering how to become a driving instructor? This guide explains everything from how the test works to setting up as self-employed.
If you’re considering a career as a driving instructor, it’s important to understand what attracts people to the trade as well as some of the common challenges.
The next step is to become a driving instructor trainer. Gov.uk has a list of approved driving instructor courses on their website.
When you’re ready, you’ll need to take your approved driving instructor (ADI) test, which has three parts:
The theory test for driving instructors is very similar to the one you take when learning to drive. But as you might expect, the questions are more difficult than the standard theory test.
It’s split into multiple choice questions and a hazard perception test.
There are 100 multiple choice questions and the pass rate is 85 per cent. This covers things like road procedure, driving law, traffic signs and signals, and teaching techniques.
And there are 14 hazard perception questions – you’ll need to get 57 points to pass this part of the test. This will test your driving awareness and reaction times by showing you a number of video clips with at least one hazard to spot.
If you fail your theory test, you can re-take it as many times as you want until you pass. Once you pass, you can book the second part of the test.
In this section of the test, you’ll need to demonstrate your driving ability. You’ll be assessed on these skills:
Being able to show a high level of skill when manoeuvring the vehicle is important as you’ll need to explain this to a learner. During your test, you’ll be asked to perform two manoeuvres such as:
To pass this part of the test, you’ll need fewer than five minor and no major faults.
The final section of the test will examine your teaching ability. You’ll be teaching a real learner a lesson you’ve planned, while an examiner assesses your teaching skills.
You’ll be judged on your lesson planning, risk management, and teaching strategies.
To pass this section, you’ll need to score at least 31 out of 51 – any less and you’ll fail.
Visit the government's site for more details on what areas you’ll be marked on.
The amount of time it takes to become a driving instructor will vary depending on how much time you dedicate to it. On average, it takes between six and 12 months to become a fully qualified instructor.
Logistically, you can be delayed by DBS checks and availability of exams too. It’s best not to rush the process and make sure you’re prepared for each stage.
And as you gain more experience, you might consider opening your own driving school.
So, how much does a driving instructor make? This depends on a range of factors. Most driving instructors charge by the hour, so the amount of hours you work plays a big part in your earning potential.
According to the National Careers Service, a typical working week is between 30 to 40 hours and the average salary for an experienced instructor is £30,000 a year.
Bear in mind that you’ll need to pay tax on this amount and there are lots of overheads you’ll need to cover.
There are multiple costs associated with becoming a driving instructor. You’ll have to pay for the tests as well as official certification. The tests cost:
You’ll also need to have a trainee driving instructor licence to complete part two and three of the exams – this costs £140.
Then it’s £300 to get our official approved driving instructor certificate once you’ve completed the tests. Bear in mind that you’ll renew this certificate every four years and it’ll cost £300 each time you do.
It’s worth considering the cost of having a car with dual controls (the extra set of pedals in the passenger seat for the instructor).
You can buy dual controls and have them fitted to your personal car, but many instructors avoid this if they can. Alternatively, you can buy a car that already has the pedals installed.
You need to take many things into consideration when planning a lesson. These are the kinds of things you’ll want to think about:
The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) has certain legal requirements that you’ll have to meet to become a licensed driving instructor. You must:
Once you’re a qualified ADI, you’ll need to register as self-employed and pay tax through the Self Assessment process by 31 January every year. You can also work for a driving school but many driving instructors work for themselves.
Going self-employed sometimes seems like a big step but it also opens up a lot of opportunities for you to grow in a trade.
Once you’re a qualified ADI and ready to teach, building your customer base will be a priority.
There are traditional marketing strategies you can use to connect with potential customers but there are other techniques to consider:
Managing risks is one of the main responsibilities for driving instructors and having the right insurance can give you peace of mind when teaching your student.
Driving instructor insurance typically includes:
You could also choose to add excess insurance in case you need to make a claim.
Do you have any unanswered questions about how to become a driving instructor? Let us know in the comments.
Zach Hayward-Jones is a Copywriter at Simply Business, with six years of writing experience across entertainment, insurance, and financial services. Zach specialises in covering small business and landlord insurance. He has a particular interest in issues impacting the hospitality industry after spending a number of years working as a pastry chef.
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