How to become a driving instructor

become a driving instructor

The moment we decide that we want to learn to drive will see many questions crop up in our minds and the first one is probably, who is going to teach me? Well of course family members and family friends can and do offer practical help and advice when it comes to learning to drive but the tried and tested route is always via a driving instructor.

The purpose of a driving instructor is to teach their students how to drive properly and safely at all times. Driving instructors also help their pupils develop their skills as a driver that they will need to pass their driving test and to continue using these new skills once the test is over and they have successfully passed. So if you really love driving and would like to pass your love of driving onto another then why not become a driving instructor, it really could be the perfect career for you.

To become a driving instructor you must be patient, calm and have good communication skills, you must make your pupils feel at ease, after all for many of them it really will be their first time behind the wheel. You must have a good, calm approach and you must be able to offer constructive advice to your pupils.

The first step you must make is to register with the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) then you can apply for training as an approved driving instructor (ADI). You will have to be aged 21 or over to apply and you will have to meet with many eligibility criteria in order to register.

The work you’ll carry out

Well a driving instructor must firstly assess a learner’s driving knowledge. It could be the case that they know absolutely nothing about driving or they could know a little. So it’s really important that this is assessed at the very beginning. The next thing to consider is the learner’s abilities and then once you have assessed your pupil you can then make a plan regarding the lessons that your pupil is going to need in order to get them up to a standard where they can take their driving test.

The majority of driving lessons do follow a similar pattern and as a driving instructor you will teach your pupil’s:

  • How to use vehicle controls with total confidence
  • How to approach road safely correctly
  • How to manoeuvre, reverse, turn and also park safely
  • Teach them about driving laws and the Highway Code
  • How they deal with emergency situations
  • Teach them all about vehicle checks

As a driving instructor you will normally use dual controls in your vehicle so that you have the option if making many adjustments to the pupil’s driving. Once they have more confidence you can then take them out onto busier roads and dual carriageways and then onto more complex junctions which will include roundabouts.

You can also offer your learner lessons in night time driving and for those who have already passed their test you can offer motorway driving.

Also as a driving instructor you can also cover driving theory with your learners.

The hours a driving instructor works

Well basically your working hours will really all depend on your pupil’s circumstances and when they are available to learn, many of your pupils will obviously still be in school, so you may have to pick them up from the school and drop them off at a specific location or maybe they are working and will therefore have to learn on their days off or weekends or evenings. So you may have to be prepared to work evenings and also weekends. You may have variations at certain times of the year including summer because of the school holidays and also at Christmas time.

Most of you time will be spent sitting in the car then once the lesson takes place you’ll be in the passenger seat. A lesson will usually last for between one and two hours.

How much does a driving instructor earn?

Well full time driving instructors can earn between £18,000 and £20,000 in the first year. Established driving instructors can look forward to earning about £25,000 a year and more experienced driving instructors or those with specialist skills can earn around £30,000 and more.

Your income is of course based on the cost of the lessons and the amount of hours you want to work. A lesson can cost between £18.00 and £30 an hour. There is also car maintenance to consider and also other expenses including petrol would also have to be considered.

If you’re a driving instructor working through a franchise then there is usually a weekly fee of between £200 and £300. You will be provided with a car and they will also pay for their own petrol.

What you will need to become a driving instructor

The first thing you have to do is to register yourself with the Driver and vehicle standards agency (DVSA) so that you can begin your training as an approved driving instructor (ADI). You must meet with these following conditions before you can become a driving instructor:

  • You must be aged 21 or over
  • You must have held a driving license for at least three years
  • You must complete and also pass enhanced criminal record and motoring conviction checks.

You will need to pass all three stages in the ADI exam and these include:

  1. ADI 1- This is a computer based test which is broken into two parts, the theory test and the hazard perception test.
  2. ADI 2- This is a practical test of your driving skills and abilities
  3. ADI 3- This is a practical test that’s based on your teaching abilities

You will have to pass each of these tests before you can go onto the next one, the theory test can be taken as many times as it takes before you pass it, however with the ADI 2 AND ADI 3 tests you will only have three attempts at passing these. They must also both be completed within two years of passing your ADI 1 test.

The driving instructor courses are run by driving schools as well as specialist training schools however the content and teaching methods will vary depending on where you are going to be trained up. You can find a list of training providers on the Official Register of Driving Instructor Training (ORDIT) which can be found on the Department for Transport website.

Once you have successfully passed the first two tests of the ADI exams you can then apply to join the trainee instructor licensing scheme. However this isn’t compulsory but it will provide you with a great opportunity to gain experience regarding driving instruction while also being supervised or also to do extra training. Your trainee license will be valid for six months.

When you have successfully passed all three parts of the ADI exam you can then join the ADI register and get a registration certificate which you can then display in your car. This registration must be renewed every four years.

The government has a great website where you will be provided with lots more info on this and how to register for instructor training and also how you qualify.

GOV.UK (become a driving instructor)

If you already have some experience regarding a driving job then that would be fantastic however it’s not essential.

Further training and development

Keeping your driving knowledge and skills is really important. Did you know that a new grading system for driving instructors has been introduced?

The old system graded driving instructors from 1 to 6 with 6 being the highest grade available this old grade system has now been replaced by an ADI standards check. So now you must take and also pass the standards check at least once every four years in order to carry on working as a driving instructor.

In the check tests you will be graded in line with your score. The grades will fall into three categories which include:

Fail – This happens if you score 0 – 30 and you will need to retake the test again

Grade B – This is when you score 31 – 42 and you can stay on the ADI register

Grade A – This is if you score 43 – 51. This score shows that you have a high standard on instruction and you can therefore stay on the ADI register.

You will have three attempts at passing the standards check, if you do fail on all three attempts then you will have to come off the ADI register and then re qualify as a driving instructor again by passing all the ADI exams again.

All driving instructors with the “old” grading will be contacted by the DVSA to arrange for you to take the new standards checks. For more info on this visit the government website on GOV.UK (ADI standards)

There is a professional body called The Driving Instructors Association (DIA) which offers many continuing professional development schemes (CPD) and will help to further your career as a driving instructor. These include The Diploma in Driver Education which is accredited by Middlesex University and also the DIAmond Special Test for advanced driver trainers.

For more help regarding professional development visit:


DIA (Diploma in driver education)

DIAmond (training)

There is also advice on CPD on the government website visit: GOV.UK (CPD)

You could also become a driving instructor for LGVs or motorcycles or even specialist training for certain groups including the emergency services. Of course you will need to complete the right training in order to work with any of these and you will be required to have the right license. For more info on this visit the government website on: GOV.UK (Teaching people to drive).

You could also work with a franchised driving school or you could become a self employed driving instructor. You could also specialise in different areas of driving including advanced or high performance driving, disabled driver’s instruction, passenger carrying vehicle (PCV) and also Large Goods Vehicles (LGV) driver training. You could also become a senior driving instructor or maybe a driving school manager. You could even become an examiner for the DVSA.