How To Become A Driving Instructor

Approved Driving Instructor (ADI) – a fully qualified person in charge of educating a student in preparation of an examination in order to obtain his/her driver’s licence…


So, thinking of becoming an ADI? Well – including key roles and information and steps needed to be taken, this guide will have all the advice you need to help you make your decision! This is a great way to drive for money!

Becoming an ADI can be a major change in career direction, and does not provide certainty regarding income, however, one of the main benefits and attractions into the line of work is that it is open to almost anybody! If you can drive, are free from major impairments and are willing to work hard, then the possibilities are endless.

There are many requirements to meet and much work to be completed in order to fully qualify. These are all laid out below.


Requirements and Assessments

You must pass a series of exams, with follow-ups and reviews. You must also….

  • Be 21 or over
  • Have held a full driver’s licence for over 3 years – but can begin the qualifying process 6 months prior to 4th anniversary, since it will take at least 6 months to qualify
  • Be free of criminal convictions such as GBH and fit to work with all persons
  • Have less than 6 penalty points on your licence

It is against the law to charge someone for lessons if you are not fully qualified as an ADI.

Once you are confirmed to be eligible, there are 3 tough tests to pass:

  1. Advanced theory
  2. Advanced driving
  3. Test of ability to teach

All tests are conducted by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA), that conducts tests for all learners/instructors who are seeking to gain driving/riding licence of any kind.

Once the 3 tests are passed, you must register to become an instructor within 12 months. Then, your first ADI certificate is obtained (£300), which gives the right to take money to teach. Only ADIs can do this by law.

You’ll have at least one standards check every 4 years. You also need to renew your registration (£300) and get a new DBS Check (£26) every 4 years. More information can be found and actions performed on the website.


How Much Does It Cost?

This part can vary, depending on how quickly you get through the training and whether or not you pass first time – which is rare! Most instructors will say that training will take at least 6 months, but in reality, 12 months is a more realistic target.

Also, the following costs are for an individual doing their training independently, and NOT with a school as part of a franchise agreement. In such an agreement, the individual’s costs would be subsidised, but we will get to that option later. Below are the three parts’ costs:

Part 1 (Advanced theory) is £81 for the test + £50 for all the books so that’s £131

Part 2 (Advanced driving) is £111 for the test + around 20 hours tuition which comes to £611

Part 3 (Test of ability to teach) is £111 for the test + around 60 hours on average which comes to £1611

In total, the assessments come to £2353. However, that’s assuming you pass each test first time, which is unlikely unless you take a higher than an average number of training hours. This way you will save money on the extra tests but will end up spending more on training.

Also, Parts 2 & 3 will take lots of time out and about in a vehicle which will see you be faced with not only professional costs such as insurance and fuel but also several potential personal costs such as time off work, babysitters and pet care plus a long list of others, which all need to be factored into your decision.

And, of course, we must factor in the two £300 and £26 charges for ADI certificate and renewal and the DBS Check (every 4 years), which come to £626.

So, the grand total will be on average around £3500, although, as mentioned earlier – it can vary for everybody!


Along with this independent option, there is also in certain scenarios the opportunity, as mentioned before, to undertake a subsidised programme with a driving school. Clearly, not having a fee to pay is a huge advantage of such an initiative, however, this can also have drawbacks, one being that you lose the choice of employer once qualified. Once you are an official ADI, you do not have the liberty to go independent or choose which school with which to franchise with and will be bound to the specific driving school on a long-term contract.


This can be risky for many reasons; will your new tied-in employer work out? Is the pay competitive? Does driving school have a good presence in the local area? All of these questions must be asked, and all options evaluated before undergoing your training.


Is It All Worth It?

After reading the above costs, you may feel disheartened by the prospect of becoming an instructor….but fear not! The instructor profession can be very enjoyable (flexible working hours) and profitable, with salaries ranging from £20,000 to £40,000! Below are some of the key features of being an ADI:

Whilst there are many attractions to the driving instructor profession, there are certain figures that can be seen as drawbacks. One is the cost of being qualified – however, as we have discussed previously, the potentially high salary can hugely outweigh the cost, and make the whole process entirely worthwhile.

Another figure that drives away potential new instructors like yourself is the pass rate of approximately 25% which seems low but, in reality, is quite misleading. At first glance, it would appear as though only 1 in 4 students passes overall. However, if you imagine that 20 people took Part 1 three times and all failed, but then the same 20 people then took Part 1 once more and they all passed, the pass rate would still be 25% and yet 100% of the people would have ultimately passed!

So, clearly, statistics can be misleading! Pass rates for individual tests may be relatively low, however, it is worth bearing in mind that passing first time is rare, which will, of course, affect the rate!


After Qualifying

So, you’ve achieved your ADI certificate – unless you are tied into a contract with a driving school, there are now various routes you can go down to kick-start your instructor career! In short, you can become independent, and set up your own business, or work with a driving school (franchise).

In order to work with a driving school, you will simply need to contact the school, and, if the institution is seeking new drivers and you meet all requirements, then you are likely to be welcomed on board.

Setting up your own business and becoming independent will require some more expertise and experience, more information on which can be found at the government website. The process is relatively straightforward and you will ultimately have freedom in working time, holidays, salary and all matters of employment!

All in all, the driving instructor profession can be a highly profitable, enjoyable and flexible working life, but there are many pros and cons which you will need to evaluate before making your decision. Hopefully, you will make the right choice – we wish you many years of success and the very best of luck!


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