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A Guide to Becoming a Driving Instructor

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What You Need to Know

  1. Driving instructors teach people of all ages how to drive a car and how to comply with the rules of the road.
  2. Instructors also teach road safety as well as driving theory.
  3. As well as teaching beginners, you may also specialise in advanced driving skills or offer refresher courses for drivers who have a licence but who are rusty.
  4. There are no academic requirements for embarking on a career as a driving instructor, even though a good head for figures is useful for going freelance.
  5. However, all instructors must first register with the Driving Standards Agency (DSA) and then train as an Approved Driving Instructor (ADI).
  6. ADI training courses can cost several hundred pounds, though may often be done around other work commitments.
  7. Though pay will never be high, benefits of this line of work include being your own boss and choosing your own hours.

What Do Driving Instructors Do?

Driving instructors teach people of all ages how to drive a car, comply with the rules of the road and maintain a car.

As well as teaching their students the basics, instructors also focus on road safety, laws and regulations and driving theory. Generally speaking, instructors teach leaner drivers and help them gain their licence, though you may also want to offer refresher courses or even specialise, for instance in advanced driving techniques.

Though the job has its downsides, many are attracted to this line of work due to the flexibility it offers, not least the ability to work as much as and when you want.

Professional and Academic Requirements

There are no academic requirements for embarking on a career as a driving instructor, even though a good head for figures is useful for going freelance.

However, all instructors must first register with the Driving Standards Agency (DSA) and then train as an Approved Driving Instructor (ADI), with this process seeing them sit a number of exams, including tests in theory, driving skills and teaching itself. A simple online search will be enough to help you find a training course near you, with some providers offering intensive courses or part-time learning you can fit around work commitments. Note, however, that getting fully-qualified can cost several hundred pounds, with some courses costing £1,000 or more.

Additionally, prospective driving instructors are required to have held a clean driving licence for at least four of the six years preceding their application to the DSA, while you should also expect to be subjected to a Criminal Record Bureau (CRB) background check.

Personal Attributes

Driving instructors need to be more than just good behind the wheel in order to succeed in the role.

Above all, you will need to be a good teacher, for example through being able to convey instructions and advice clearly and calmly, show patience even in trying circumstances and to have a genuine desire to see your students pass their test.

Additionally, if you choose to go it alone and set up your own business, you will need to be self-motivated, organised and able to keep on top of paperwork, including tax issues.

Potential Rewards

Financially-speaking, being a driving instructor is not the most lucrative of careers, with those employed by schools likely to earn in the region of £20,000 per year. While self-employed driving instructors can boost their earnings significantly, you should expect to pay high car insurance rates and running costs for your business, not least for regular trips to the petrol station.

Aside from the financial rewards, most driving instructors point to the flexibility of their work as a positive, with most able to schedule lessons how they want. Additionally, one other potential reward is the satisfaction of helping students get their driving licence, particularly if they are liabilities behind the wheel to start off with.

Possible Drawbacks

Given that instructors are in a car with novice drivers, this line of work can be stressful, allowing no time to switch off and relax.

At the same time, it can also be somewhat dull and monotonous, while other possible drawbacks include the fact that many students will want lessons either early in the morning or in the evenings, making a nine-to-five lifestyle hard.

Furthermore, self-employed driving instructors face the same pressures as other freelancers, namely having to keep on top of money matters and not knowing how much they will be working at any given point in the future.

Finding Work

While many driving instructors ultimately aim to go it alone, most start off working for the UK's biggest driving schools.

As well as offering more vacancies, the likes of the AA and the British School of Motoring (BSM) also offer paid training courses, allowing prospective instructors to earn while studying for their ADI examinations.

Once fully qualified and with a bit of experience under your belt, you may choose to set up your own driving school. If you do go down this route, then it’s down to you to find clients. Setting up a website and placing adverts in local newspapers and shop windows are great ways of drumming up new business, though word of mouth is equally as important, so make sure you’re always professional, courteous and patient with your students.

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