How to become a driving instructor
Driving instructors help people learn to drive in a safe, patient and methodical manner. As skilled drivers, instructors have a thorough knowledge of the Highway Code, vehicle manoeuvres and the workings of a car. They are responsible for ensuring that their students learn to drive with there being minimal risk to their own safety and that of other road users.
£15,000 to £30,000
Driving Instructor Course
Forging a career as a driving instructor
The best driving instructors are able to instil confidence in student drivers whilst ensuring that each is aware of the potential risks of being careless whilst on the road. The Uk driving test is more thorough than ever and includes hazard awareness, the need to demonstrate an understanding of car maintenance, the ability to perform a number of driving manoeuvres and a sound understanding of the theory. This means that a driving instructor has a great deal to teach each new driver and must do so in an engaging and professional manner.
What qualifications will I need to become a driving instructor?
The entry requirements for becoming a driving instructor are demanding and require individuals to demonstrate a thorough understanding of the practical and theoretical elements of driving.
You can only become a driving instructor once you are 21 years old and once you have been driving for a minimum of 3 years. This ensures that you have achieved enough driving experience for the role.
Each candidate must also complete the following before they can become a driving instructor:
- An application to the Driving and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) which can be made through the GOV.UK website.
- Demonstrate that you are able to read a licence plate that is 90 feet (27.5m) away. You are allowed to wear glasses or contact lenses if required.
- Pass an enhanced criminal records check. This will alert employers as to whether you have any driving offences or a criminal past that may put students at risk.
Once you have completed the above, you will then need to pass the Approved Driving Instructor (ADI) exams, which come in three parts. Once you have passed the first two exams, you will be issued with a ‘license to give instruction’. You will only be able to charge people for lessons once you have this licence, it is illegal to do so beforehand.
You will then need to pass the third level of the ADI exam and once this is done, your details will be added to the ADI register and you will be recognised as a fully fledged driving instructor. To maintain this status, you will need to pass a ‘standards check’ on a 4 yearly basis which will allow you to continue to work as a driving instructor.
Essential Skills for Being a Driving Instructor
To be a driving instructor, you must be prepared to patiently work with a cross-section of students and to use a range of skills to help them learn safely and as quickly as possible. The different personalities and abilities of your students will help to ensure that each day is varied but to be certain that each trainee receives a first rate service, the essential skills below must be possessed by the instructor.
To be a great driving instructor, you should:
- Have patience and understanding. Do not expect your students to learn too quickly and recognise that driving is a daunting undertaking for some.
- Have the ability to present information differently is a student is struggling to understand from outset.
- To give clear instructions.
- To be observant and fully aware of the potential risks to the student driver and other road users.
- The ability to react swiftly.
- Excellent driving skills and a thorough understanding of road safety.
- The ability to seek out new clients and market your business if you are self-employed.
- Excellent communication skills.
- Confidence and authority.
- Excellent time management skills.
Day to Day Work of a Driving Instructor
Driving instructors will spend most of their day sitting in the passenger seat of their car, teaching students how to drive safely. The variety of the day will come from the lesson contents, the area that the lesson is conducted and the students themselves. Some of the likely tasks that a driving instructor will complete daily include:
- Meeting new students, explaining the learning progression and lessons plans and beginning their tuition.
- Teaching more advanced manoeuvres to student drivers who are progressing well.
- Helping students with their theoretical understanding.
- Booking students on their driving tests.
- Taking students on a trial test to prepare them for the real event.
- Marketing the business and trying to secure new learner drivers.
- Teaching students about the vehicle, including the controls, functions and maintenance.
- Managing the emotions of learner drivers, particularly those who are nervous or overly-confident.
- Managing a diary successfully and recording all lessons and appointments.
- Managing accounts, accepting payments and issuing receipts.
How much does a driving instructor get paid?
The earnings that you will make as a driving instructor will vary depending on several factors, including:
- Whether you are employed or self-employed.
- How many hours you work.
- How many students you have.
- Where in the country you are based.
- What overheads you have (such as a car purchase or lease).
As a guideline, most driving instructors earn between £15,000 and £22,000 when they begin their career. Once they have built up a good reputation and have full bookings, this pay can increase to the region of £20,000 to £30,000 per year.
Self employed driving instructors are able to set their own rates but will want to be competitive against other instructors in the area. Most self employed instructors will charge between £20 and £30 per hour tuition.
Overheads for a driving instructor can be high. You will need to factor in fuel costs, car costs (lease or owned), maintenance fees, insurance sums and, if you are a member of a franchise, the franchise costs.
Career Progression for a Driving Instructor
Driving instructors can progress their careers into specialist fields once they have gained enough experience. Specialist training areas might include:
- Teaching disabled students to drive
- Teaching train drivers for passenger vehicles.
- Teaching foreign students – this is particularly likely if you are able to speak another language.
- Teaching more advanced driving skills to those who have passed their standard test.
Working Hours and Working Environment for a Personal Trainer
Most driving instructors will teach student drivers in a specialist car that they either own or lease from their employer. Your car will help you teach students safely by giving you greater control than a non-specialised vehicle and will also help you advertise your services on the exterior.
The hours that you work as a driving instructor will largely depend on the needs and availability of your students. You may decide to only work within set hours each day or may choose to have specific days off each week. This may hinder your ability to take on some students but will allow you the flexibility to manage your working hours to suits your own needs.
Do be aware that most students will want to learn to drive outside of education and office hours. You may need to work evenings and weekends in order to meet the needs of most students.