How to Become a Driving Instructor: Ultimate Guide

Contents

The Basics

An illustration of driving law.

Are you mad about driving and have a knack for teaching people new skills? If so, a career as an ADI (approved driving instructor) could be perfect for you! Be your own boss, structure your own schedule and make your own rules! ...Well, not quite. For those willing to put the work in, though, this can be a gratifying and financially rewarding career.

So, how do you make the leap from qualified driver to top notch teacher? Well, it's quite a journey! Bad news: there will be some tests. Good news: it is totally worth it.

Let's get stuck in!


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How You'll Be Tested

As long as you're 21 or over and have held a clean driving licence for at least 3 years, you can get started! Head to the government website and fill out the application to become a driving instructor. Once that's been approved, the qualification process can begin.

Being an ADI is a big responsibility in many ways, so you will need to jump through a few hoops before you get the official seal of approval (otherwise known as joining the ADI register). Don't be daunted by the length of the process—taken stage by stage, it's perfectly doable.

Part 1: Driving Theory

An illustration of driving law theory.

First off, it's time to flex those brain muscles and show off your driving knowledge. This is very similar to the theory test you took as a learner, but with more questions and a stricter pass threshold. That means you need to read up on the Highway Code, traffic signs and general driving skills. There's also a hazard perception section—so make sure your reactions are on point!

Once you feel ready, it's just a case of keeping your cool on test day. You'll have 1 hour and 30 minutes to answer 100 multiple-choice questions. These are divided into 4 sections:

  • Road procedure
  • Traffic signs, control, pedestrians and mechanical knowledge
  • Driving test, disabilities and the law
  • Publications and instructional techniques

You must get at least 20 (out of 25) correct on each section.

After that, there are 14 video clips to watch, during which you should click every time you see a developing hazard. Each hazard can earn you up to 5 points, depending on how early you spot it.

Cost: £81

Pass Score: 85/100 (multiple-choice section) 57/75 (hazard perception)

Attempts Allowed: You have unlimited attempts to pass part 1 of the ADI tests

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Part 2: Driving Ability

Now it's time to prove that you can drive like a pro. Again, this will be quite similar to the practical test you took as a learner. This time, however, you have to show not only that you can drive, but that you can drive at expert level. Be prepared to be tested on:

  • Eyesight
  • 'Show me, tell me' questions
  • General driving ability
  • Manoeuvres
  • Independent driving

The test will last for 1 hour, rather than 40 minutes (like the regular practical test). Plus, you'll have to answer 5 'show me, tell me' questions, rather than 2. The rules are much stricter for ADIs, too. For example: failing a question on the 'show me, tell me' section will result in a minor fault; failing to answer any of the questions correctly counts as a major fault and so an overall fail on the test.

Cost: £111

Pass Score: No more than 6 minor (aka driving) faults and no major (aka serious or dangerous) faults.

Pass Rate 2017/18: 54.7%

Attempts Allowed: 3

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Part 3: Instructional Ability

An illustration of a driving practical test examiner.

You've impressed with your motor knowledge and shown that you can drive to a high standard, now you must demonstrate how you are able to pass these skills onto others. A DVSA examiner will observe you conducting a 1 hour lesson with a pupil. The person you teach can be an actual learner, or someone who already has a licence. Note that they cannot be another trainee ADI.

During this 'lesson' you will be marked on 17 areas (each with a possible score of 0-3 points), which are divided into 3 categories:

  • Lesson planning
  • Risk Management
  • Teaching and learning strategies

For a full list of each of the 17 areas, check out the Part 3 test report form. The safety of learner drivers is obviously a high priority, so bear in mind that a score of 7 or less on the risk management category will result in an immediate fail.

On completing the test, you'll be told whether you've passed or failed. There are two different levels at which you can achieve a pass. Grade B—well done, you can get on the ADI register! Or Grade A—check you out! Not only are you allowed on the register, you've shown a particularly high standard of instruction. Permission to be slightly smug granted. 

Cost: £111

Pass Score: 31-42 (Grade B); 43-51 (Grade A)

Pass Rate 2017/18: 36.7%

Attempts Allowed: 3

An illustration of a driving practical test graduation.

Once you pass part 3, you have 12 months to apply for your ADI badge. This is a certificate that means you're on the ADI register and thus legally allowed to charge money for teaching people to drive. It's the final hurdle to cross in order to start your new career.

...And it will cost you £300. If this is your calling, it's definitely worth the investment. The National Careers Service estimates that driving instructors can expect to earn between £15,000 and £30,000 a year. Not too shabby!


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Training

An illustration of traffic signs.

As you can see, becoming a driving instructor takes a lot of work, so don't be afraid to reach out for some help to get you through the process. In fact, it is highly recommended that you embark on some kind of ADI training course in order to be successful.

Given the amount of money you're paying to take the tests, it makes sense to show up as prepared as you can be. You'll find help available to tackle all the stages of qualification.

Theory

For part 1 we recommend that you study the Highway Code and make use of online study aids like mock tests. Specific resources such as The Driving Instructor's Handbook and The Official DVSA Theory Test for Approved Driving Instructors (does what it says on the tin), will come in very handy at this stage.

Practical

Parts 2 and 3 will require a lot of practice (and some lesson planning) on your part. Numerous driving companies offer full ADI training courses, so shop around and find yourself a good deal. Try to go with a trusted name—cheaper courses don't necessarily offer the best value for money.

Look into training courses offered by the big driving schools—you may find package deals that work out cheaper than hourly lessons. PassMeFast also provides a training package for potential ADIs, which includes 50 hours of one-on-one tuition and access to a host of online resources.


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What Our Instructors Say

Now we've covered what it takes to become an ADI, let's get a glimpse of what life is actually like once you've earned that badge. Here's a couple of PassMeFast instructors, with the inside scoop:

An illustration of PassMeFast driving instructor - Ged.

Ged

What's the most enjoyable thing about being a driving instructor?
Being my own boss and having a sense of achievement when someone passes—especially first timers.

What's the most frustrating thing about being a driving instructor?
Inconsiderate or impatient road users—we all had to learn at one time.

An illustration of PassMeFast driving instructor - Ann.

Ann

Why did you decide to join PassMeFast?
I wanted a new challenge.

What motivated you to become a driving instructor?
I love meeting people from all walks of life.

What's your proudest moment as an instructor?
When a pupil passes with zero minors. Three of my pupils have done just that!

For more words of wisdom from those in the know, check out our Meet an ADI series over on our blog.


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Join the PassMeFast Fleet

Newly-qualified driving instructors may find joining a franchise (rather than going it alone) is a good way to kick-start a lucrative career. It enables you to access a large database of work opportunities that could otherwise take years to build up. Plus, you won't have to worry as much about advertising costs and getting your name out there.

If this sounds like the route you want to go down, PassMeFast is always looking to expand our impressive fleet of ADIs. There's no franchise fees, a virtual job board that's updated daily and the opportunity to teach in full courses, rather than hourly lessons. For more information, visit our join the team page.

We currently cover Cheshire, Derbyshire, East Yorkshire, Essex, Greater London, Greater Manchester, Kent, Lancashire, Merseyside, North Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire, South Yorkshire, Surrey, West Midlands and West Yorkshire

Don't worry if we haven't reached you yet, we're constantly expanding our services. Keep an eye on the areas section of the site, and you might see us cropping up in your neck of the woods very soon!


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If being an ADI sounds like it could be right up your street, read our comprehensive guide: Do You Have What it Take to Become a Driving Instructor?. It covers every aspect of the job and lifestyle, so you'll be able to make an informed decision before making any commitments.