How to become a driving instructor

You’ve likely landed on this page because you’re thinking about or are in the process of becoming a driving instructor. At Total Drive, we like to think we’re the experts on all things driving, which is why you’re in the right place.

Want to find out how long it takes to become a driving instructor, how much it could cost and whether you should take the leap? Read on to find out!

Should I become a driving instructor?

Before we dive in (or drive) any further, you may still be on the fence about whether you should become a driving instructor. Any job has its pros and cons, and teaching other people to drive is no exception.

You may get in a few bangs and scrapes, you may need to work evenings and weekends to fit into your pupils’ schedules and you’re subject to road rage and traffic every single day. But being a driving instructor has a much longer list of pros than cons.

Teaching people to drive means you’re helping them to become independent. With a licence, they may be able to get a job they haven’t been able to apply for before, drive their family members around who cannot do so themselves, and much more.

You can form your own hours and schedule, particularly with the right driving instructor app, and you could earn good money from a business that’s all yours.

So if you have a passion for teaching and inspiring young people and are an advocate for safe driving, then becoming a driving instructor likely is the right job for you. While the process can take around 12 months, you could be set up for a lifelong career.

How do I become a driving instructor?

Becoming a driving instructor isn’t necessarily as easy as buying a car and setting up your own school ‒ there are certain hoops you need to jump through first.

First, you must be over the age of 21, be qualified to drive the car you’re using to teach your students and have been qualified to do so for at least three years. You must also be on the Approved Driving Instructor (ADI) register and have a trainee driving instructor licence before you can charge anyone for driving lessons.

But getting on the ADI register isn’t as simple as sending in a valid driving licence – there are further steps that must be taken to get listed.

Step one is applying to become a driving instructor. When you do this, you will be asked for a valid DBS check, so do be sure that you have this before applying. Once your application is accepted and your DBS has been confirmed, you will take three tests. The tests can be tricky, and so it’s a good idea to find a registered trainer who can help you to revise and pass with flying colours.

The first test is theory based, much like the one learner drivers need to take before they can perform their practical exam. Upon passing the theory test, you will also be required to take a driving ability test. This second test must be completed within two years of passing the theory exam.

Finally, you will need to get some actual teaching experience. You cannot do this without a trainee licence, so you apply for a temporary one that will allow you to teach a learner driver, in preparation for the third test.

This third exam is the instructional ability test, and you will be required to give a student a lesson. The lesson will last around 45 minutes and your final mark will reflect how well it went.

Of these 45 minutes, the pupil is required to drive for at least 40 of them, with you as the instructor. At the start of the lesson, you will need to discuss the goals of the session (up to three minutes) and at the end, the pupil should reflect on their lesson (also up to three minutes).

For the sake of the test, the learner cannot be someone who has only just started driving lessons, but instead should be someone who has taken quite a few lessons and is fairly confident on the road. They can also be a full licence holder.

Once you’ve passed all of these elements, you can become a fully fledged driving instructor, providing you have no points on your licence.

How much does it cost to become a driving instructor?

The fees associated with becoming a driving instructor can vary, depending on the training organisation you choose, these can start from around £1000. It is important that you do your research and find the right training for you and your current skillset.

To be put on the ADI register, you must pay separately for each of the tests. The current prices* are as follows:

Test 1: £81
Test 2: £111
Test 3: £111

This means the total cost for all three elements is £303. On top of these, you must pay an annual fee to be on the register and for your first certificate, you must pay £300. This must be renewed every four years for a further £300 each time.

The trainee driving instructors’ licence, which is a necessity in order to gain teaching experience prior to your third test, costs around £140.

This means, with all these things combined, as a minimum, you could be looking to pay approximately £743* in your first year of training as a driving instructor
*excluding training.

How long does it take to become a driving instructor?

How long it takes to become a driving instructor depends on how quickly you finish each of the elements above. You should take into account the time needed to train and revise for the theory test and the time for teaching other students as practice. There can also be a waiting list for each of the three exams you must sit.

Usually, you can get a six-month trainee licence that allows you to practice for the instructional ability test, and while you don’t have to take the full six months to practice, you shouldn’t rush this part.

Therefore, it’s likely to take around 12 months to complete every part of the process. This is quite a realistic goal.

What age can you become a driving instructor?

You must be over the age of 21 in order to become a driving instructor and have four years driving experience too. This means that if you didn’t pass your driving test yourself until you were 20, for instance, the minimum age you could become an instructor is aged 24.

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