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Driving Instruction

Driving Instruction


07 Jun, 2024

Do you have a driving ambition? Driving instruction is a profession that offers varied opportunities and flexible employment to those of the right temperament. If that sounds like you then buckle up and read on …

What’s involved?

What’s the Role? As a driving instructor, you’ll be responsible for teaching individuals how to operate various types of vehicles safely. This role is particularly suited for those transitioning from the Armed Forces, as it requires discipline, patience, and the ability to work independently. The majority of your time will be spent instructing learner drivers aiming to pass their driving test in a car, ensuring they understand all aspects of driving.

The Transition from Armed Forces The driving instruction sector is becoming increasingly competitive, with many attracted to the autonomy it offers. This could be an appealing prospect for you when you decide to leave the Armed Forces. However, it’s important to remember that the hours can be long and demanding. Most driving instructors work alone, often on a self-employed basis, even if they’re part of a larger driving school franchise. This means you’re only paid for the hours you’re instructing, with any time between lessons unpaid. As such, some instructors choose to work part-time, balancing their driving instruction with another job.

Considerations for the Future If you’re considering a future as a driving instructor, your most significant expense will likely be your vehicle. Beyond the initial purchase, you’ll need to account for fuel and maintenance costs. However, if you opt to work for a franchise, a vehicle may be included as part of your agreement, especially if the franchise fee is substantial. This can help alleviate some of the financial burdens and allow you to focus on providing quality instruction.


Driving lessons usually follow a similar pattern. As an instructor, you will be teaching your clients:

  • to use vehicle controls with confidence
  • to manoeuvre, turn, reverse and park safely
  • the correct approach to road safety
  • about driving laws and the Highway Code
  • how to do basic vehicle checks
  • how to deal with emergency situations.

Source: National Careers Service

Register as an ADI

Embarking on the Journey to Become an Approved Driving Instructor (ADI) The journey to becoming a driving instructor begins with registering on the website to train as an Approved Driving Instructor (ADI). The prerequisites for this registration include:

  • be aged 21 or over
  • Holding a full driving licence for a minimum of three years.
  • Securing a new criminal record check, irrespective of whether you already possess one.

Before you can be listed on the ADI Register, you must clear three qualifying tests. An ADI is an individual who has successfully navigated all three stages and is presently registered with the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA). It’s important to apply to the DVSA prior to commencing the qualifying tests. After clearing the second part of the qualifying examination – the driving ability assessment – you can apply for the trainee’s 'licence to give instruction’. While this licence permits you to legally earn income from providing driving instruction, it does not replace the need to register as an ADI.

Career Prospects for ADIs Once registered, an ADI has the option to work for a driving school or venture into self-employment. Some ADIs choose to enhance their skill set by acquiring additional qualifications, which enable them to train drivers of large goods vehicles (LGVs) or fleet drivers. An ADI is also mandated to clear special ‘standards checks’ at specified intervals. These checks are designed to ensure that the ADI consistently meets the standards set for ability and fitness to provide instruction.

Skill up while serving

Developing Skills During Service Every branch of the Armed Forces houses its own driving instructors. These instructors are stationed at the Defence School of Transport, its satellite establishments, single-Service bases, and within units. They are trained and qualified to DVSA standards. Some of these instructors are already on the appropriate register, while others may not be. Almost every motor transport pool is equipped to instruct individuals on how to operate the vehicles it manages. Given the wide variety of vehicles used in the Armed Forces, there are service members holding a diverse range of licences, all trained by these instructors.

Key Attributes for Driving Instructors Driving instructors need to be skilled drivers, but they also require flexibility, creativity, and dedication. A background in the Services, with its emphasis on social interaction and self-discipline, provides excellent preparation. Crucial skills include the ability to teach, a high level of driving skills, an understanding of learning processes, the ability to assess others’ performance, and strong communication and interpersonal skills.

Get qualified!

Process of Qualification To become an Approved Driving Instructor (ADI), you are required to pass three tests:

  1. computer-based test in two parts, theory test and hazard perception test
  2. practical test of driving skills
  3. practical test of instructional (teaching) ability.

Each part must be passed in order. While the theory test (part 1) can be retaken as many times as needed, you are limited to three attempts to pass parts 2 and 3. These must be passed within two years of passing part 1. The entire qualification process typically spans several months.

Details of the Tests Part 1, the theory test, is composed of a multiple-choice section and a hazard perception section. It takes approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes. Both parts must be passed simultaneously to pass the test. There’s no limit to how many times you can take the test, which currently costs £81.

Part 2, the driving ability test, lasts around an hour, currently costs £111, and includes an eyesight test, vehicle safety questions, and a test of your ability to drive to a very high standard.

Part 3, the instructional ability test, assesses your ability to instruct pupils. You must pass part 2 before you book part 3. The test, which currently costs £111, lasts around an hour and includes an assessment of core competencies, instructional techniques, and instructor characteristics. Once you have passed this test, you can apply for your first ADI badge and join the ADI register.

Please note that the ADI tests operate differently in Northern Ireland.

Process of Renewal The ADI qualification is valid for four years. You will need to apply to renew your registration before the end of your current registration period, and will then need another DBS check.

Other vehicles

Training for Various Vehicles Motorcycle instructors may undergo training directly from Approved Training Bodies, the sole organisations authorised to provide Compulsory Basic Training (CBT). They can also complete a two-day assessment at a designated DVSA centre. Additional qualifications are necessary to teach Direct Access courses.

LGV instructors who aspire to join the DVSA’s voluntary register undertake a series of exams akin to those for ADIs. They can obtain certification for four years, after which re-registration is required.

Lift truck instructors are advised to complete a course with a trainer accredited by the Health & Safety Executive.

Blue light vehicles, encompassing police, fire, ambulance, and MoD vehicles, are acknowledged as a specialist category for training drivers proficient in emergency situations. The three core competencies are:

1. Evaluating the need for an emergency response.
2. Safely driving the vehicle to emergencies.
3. Exhibiting the correct attitude when responding to emergencies.

Fleet driver training also maintains a voluntary registration scheme for trainers. Fleet driver trainers, who possess higher-level qualifications, impart more advanced driving skills, typically in the corporate market. The register was established to define standards for those specialising in this type of training and to enhance the visibility of the training provided to fleet drivers and their employers. ADIs can qualify for the register through a three-part exam consisting of a touchscreen-based theory test, a practical driving test, and a practical instructional test, or they can complete and pass an accredited course.



As a potential instructor, you should ensure that the training provider you choose is reputable. The DVSA’s Official Register of Driving Instructor Training (ORDIT) lists suitably qualified and inspected trainers and establishments, and anyone seeking ADI training can approach them knowing that they have achieved the required standards. Training costs vary, so you should contact several providers to compare fees before deciding which course offers the best value for your personal circumstances. Be aware that many companies advertise in the press, and there is no requirement to be registered with the ORDIT.

Use your ELC

Under the ELC scheme, a wide range of learning can be taken, provided it is offered by an approved provider listed on the ELCAS website and is at level 3 or above. For full details of how to make the most of your ELC, refer to the in-depth features elsewhere on the Quest website


The pandemic may have had an adverse effect in many walks of life, but there are some very good reasons why training as a driving instructor is still a desirable – and feasible – option.

  • Lockdowns have led to a huge backlog in driving lessons, making driving instructors highly sought after.
  • Driving schools are reporting unprecedented levels of new customers wanting to learn to drive.
  • Many established driving instructors have decided to retire or leave the industry, which makes now a great time to take control of your career and be in pole position to take over from them.
  • The first part of the ADI test can be done online, which means you could start right away and be on the road in no time.

Finding employment

Career Opportunities Post-Qualification Upon achieving qualification, several career avenues open up:

  • Gradually transition into the profession by balancing instruction with another job. This method allows for a smoother transition, particularly for those exiting the Armed Forces.
  • Take the plunge as a self-employed instructor. This route offers flexibility and autonomy, characteristics that are often attractive to former service personnel.
  • Join a local or national driving school as a franchisee. This pathway provides a structured environment and an established client base.
  • Collaborate with other instructors and pool your resources. This cooperative approach can offer shared resources and support.

Working for a franchise

If you decide to work as a driving instructor through a franchise, the fees you’ll have to pay are likely to vary considerably, depending on what’s included. (Clearly, this may account for a significant proportion of your earnings, so you will need to give it careful consideration.) Working through a franchise, you would usually pay a weekly fee of between £200 and £300, but be provided with a car. You would also pay for your own fuel (which is quite a serious consideration with the current high fuel costs, of course). If a fee seems on the high side, check the sorts of benefits it includes. For example, will you get:

  • a car included in the cost (although not fuel expenses)
  • brand recognition
  • a guaranteed supply of students
  • a higher hourly rate?

In addition, the Ministry of Defence’s Career Transition Partnership (CTP) offers comprehensive resettlement support services for personnel transitioning out of the Armed Forces. They collaborate with employers to source suitable vacancies and host employment events throughout the year. The CTP also provides a variety of vocational training courses, workshops, and briefings to aid your transition to the civilian workplace. This can be a valuable resource for those contemplating a career in driving instruction post their Armed Forces tenure.

Operating Through a Franchise If you choose to work as a driving instructor under a franchise, the fees you’ll encounter can significantly vary based on what’s included. This could form a major part of your earnings, so it’s crucial to consider this aspect carefully. Typically, when operating through a franchise, you would pay a weekly fee ranging from £200 to £300. In exchange, you would be provided with a car, though you would bear the cost of fuel. Given the current high fuel costs, this is a significant consideration. If a fee appears high, it’s worth investigating the benefits it encompasses. For instance, you might receive:

  • A car included in the cost (excluding fuel expenses).
  • Brand recognition.
  • A guaranteed supply of students.
  • A higher hourly rate.

What can you earn?

Earnings Potential in 2024 The driving instruction sector is diverse, offering a range of earning opportunities. Besides training learner drivers to pass both the theory and practical components of the test, there are additional schemes such as the Pass Plus scheme, the Driver Improvement Scheme, and retraining programs for individuals who have violated traffic laws.

As of 2024, full-time driving instructors in their inaugural year can anticipate earnings around £30,900 annually. Instructors with established careers can expect to earn between £30,000 and £40,000 per year, while those with specialist skills or extensive experience can earn upwards of £40,000. Income is determined by the cost of the driving lesson and the number of hours worked. Depending on your location and competitors’ rates, you can charge between £31 and £35 per hour.

Don’t forget to account for essential expenses such as car maintenance and fuel. Given the significant variation in fuel costs depending on your location and current market prices, it’s crucial to factor these into your earnings calculations.

To view our full list of Driving Instruction training courses

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