Many parents, feeling as if they have handed over a fortune to their teenager’s driving instructor, wish they could turn the tables to be the ones pocketing the cash. Not only does it offers flexible working hours, many are tempted by the chance to be your own boss and potential earnings of up to £30,000 a year. Plus there’s real job satisfaction to be had in helping your pupils pass that milestone of getting a driving licence.
So what’s involved in becoming a driving instructor, and is it for you?
- How do you become a driving instructor?
- How long does it take to qualify?
- Is it expensive?
- Is it worth it?
- The pros and cons?
There are certain things you’ll need if you are serious about this career. You must:
- Hold a full UK, European Union or European Economic Area unrestricted car driving licence.
- Have held a car driving licence for a minimum of four years.
- Not have been disqualified from driving in the four years before you apply to join the Driving Standard Agency’s register of driving instructors. (You must also declare any points held on your licence in the last six years. If you have six or more points you may struggle to get on a driving instructor training course).
- Pass a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check. All offences (not just motoring ones) will be taken into account when deciding your suitability to be a driving instructor, as you’ll obviously be working alone with your customers. We have more information on DBS checks here.
- Be good with people! Are you patient, calm, and good at explaining things clearly? Don’t underestimate the importance of this – many people don’t hold these skills.
- Pass three tests: on driving theory, practical driving ability, and teaching skills. These tests are not easy – the pass rate is about one in three.
You will need to meet all the above requirements in order to become a professional driving instructor.
If you’re being paid to teach someone to drive, you must be an Approved Driving Instructor (ADI). This qualification is provided by the Driving Standards Agency.
How long it takes to qualify varies from person to person. If you’re particularly good, driving instructor training and passing the tests can be done in under a year – however a year to 18 months is more realistic.
You can find out more about how to become a driving instructor with one of the main driving schools, RED, by filling in a quick form. They will then send you further details.
Training to become a driving instructor isn’t cheap. Expect to pay in the region of £2,500-£4,000.
While it is possible to earn £30,000 a year as a driving instructor, getting to this point takes time as you build your reputation and customer base. Don’t expect to earn this amount in your first 12 months.
Driving instructors are mostly self-employed. However, most join established driving schools (such as RED or the AA) and purchase what is known as a ‘franchise’.
Normally, your franchise consists of:
- A training car (designed for teaching people to drive, fitted with two sets of pedals).
- Marketing materials.
- Pupil record forms and log books
Franchise costs vary, but expect to pay in the region of £300-£350 a week.
It’s not cheap, but if you’re committed to this career then getting a franchise can more than pay for itself.
If you charged £25 a lesson, you will only start making a profit on your franchise fees after teaching around 14 one-hour lessons each week.
So to make a reasonable living, you’re looking at working at least 30 hours a week – but more likely nearer 40 hours.
It pays to do a bit of research into the local market. Are there lots of existing driving instructors already operating in your area? If so you might find it hard to get a sufficient number of learner drivers on your books to cover your franchise fees.
On the other hand, maybe driving instructors are few and far between in your area. Or perhaps you live in a neighbourhood where there will always be plenty of potential learner drivers (if there are plenty of schools and colleges nearby, for example). So at the risk of repeating ourselves – a bit of research is wise before you commit to paying any training fees.
- With time, it’s possible to earn up to £600 a week as a driving instructor.
- You can be your own boss.
- It can offer real job satisfaction.
- Driving instructor training takes time, isn’t cheap – and many people don’t pass.
- While you can decide when to work, in reality you’ll need to work a certain number of hours to cover your franchise fees. Also, the hours can be unsociable (many of your pupils won’t be able to take lessons during work or school hours, or will want experience of driving at night).
- If you suffer from road rage, this job could be hell on earth!
Still think you fit the bill?
If so, RED are looking for new driving instructors right now, and their training programme can easily be fitted in around your existing commitments and lifestyle.
You can find more information on becoming a driving instructor via the links below.