Training to become a driving instructor is an increasingly popular career choice. Tales of flexible working hours and an income of £30,000 a year tempt ever more people. The realities however are not always so rosy. Most instructors I know earn considerable less than £30,000 a year.
Becoming driving instructor costs money. To pass the qualifying exams you are looking at a cost of around £3000 and once qualified the costs don't stop. If you take out a franchise, say with a national driving school, you will pay a weekly fee of up to £350 a week, plus the cost of petrol. If you go it alone you will have car payments, the cost of advertising and other business costs to consider. Training to become a driving instructor can be rewarding both professionally and financial but we cautious of people promising you an easy ride.
To become a driving instructor, also known as an ADI (Approved Driving Instructor) you will first have to:
- Hold a full British or Northern Ireland unrestricted car driving licence
- Have held it for a total of four out of the past six years prior to entering the ADI Register after qualifying
- Not have been disqualified from driving at any time in the four years prior to being entered in the Register
- Be a fit and proper person to have your name entered in the Register
- Pass the Register qualifying exam
- Apply for registration within 12 months of passing Part 3 of the ADI exam.
All new entrants now have to have a criminal records check. Having a criminal record won't automatically bar you from becoming an ADI. The DVSA look at various factors when assessing how suitable an applicant is. These factors include:
- The seriousness of the offence and its relevance to the safety of customers
- The length of the time since the offence
- Whether the offence was part of a history of offending, or just a one-off
- Whether the applicant's circumstances have changed since the offence was committed, making re-offending less likely
- The degree of remorse, or otherwise, expressed by the applicant
The driving instructors exam consists of three parts:
Part 1 Of The Driving Instructors Exam: Theory and Hazard Perception
The first part of this test is a multi-choice question test which covers a wide range of subject knowledge, including
- The rules and regulations for driving on UK roads
- Mechanical principles
- Teaching techniques
- Dealing with disabilities
The test is taken using a touch screen computer and consists of 100 multi-choice questions. English is the only language used for the test. The test duration is 90 minutes.
The questions are banded into four subject groups.
- Road procedure
- Traffic signs and signals car control; pedestrians; mechanical knowledge
- Driving test; disabilities; law
- Publication; instructional techniques
There are twelve different sets of questions, which mean there are 1200 possible questions you could be asked.
To pass this part of the test you need to score an overall mark of 85 per cent. However, to ensure an adequate knowledge in all subject areas, you must score a mark of at lease 80 per cent in each of the four bands. So, for example, if you scored 95 per cent in three of the bands but only 78 per cent in the fourth, you will fail the test.
Once you have completed the multi-choice part of the test you will be allowed a short break. The hazard perception test will then commence.
This consists of 14 video clips, each lasting around a minute. They show road traffic situations involving other road users. As the clips plays a hazard will develop. You need to identify the hazard by clicking on the mouse button. The sooner you identify the hazard the higher your score for that clip and hazard. Click the mouse button too much however and you will score zero.
To pass you must score 57 out of a possible 75 marks. To sample the hazard perception test try our mock hazard perception tests.
You must pass the hazard perception and multi-choice questions, in order to pass the test proper.
Part 2 Of The Driving Instructors Exam: Driving Ability
This is a practical driving test that lasts about an hour. To start with you will need to read a standard number plate from a distance of 27.5 metres. Fail to do this and the test will go no further.
You will then be asked several questions regarding vehicle safety. These questions are the same as the learners show me, tell me test. For full details see our show me tell me test page. Once complete the practical driving test will begin.
The test is of an advanced nature and a very high standard of competence is expected. You will be required to drive in a brisk and 'business-like' manner, demonstrating that you have a thorough knowledge of the principles of good driving and road safety; and that you put them into practice at all times. You will have to drive in a variety of road and traffic environments including heavy and fast moving traffic i.e. motorways and dual carriageways, rural roads and urban areas. You must satisfy the examiner on your:
- Expert handling of the controls
- Application of correct road procedure
- Anticipations of the actions of other road users and taking the appropriate action
- Sound judgment of speed, distances and timing
- Consideration for the convenience and safety of other road users
Any deviation away from this standard will earn you a driving fault. You will fail the test if you score six or more such faults.
Part 3 Of The Driving Instructors Exam: Instructional Ability
The test is a practical test that lasts about an hour. A specially qualified senior DVSA Examiner will take you through the test and mark you. It is designed to test whether you can pass on your knowledge to students with different levels of ability through your practical teaching skills.
There are two parts to the test. In part 1, you have to teach a learner with limited driving skills; and in part 2 you have to make an assessment and give remedial instruction to either a learner who is at test standard or a qualified driver who is undergoing driver development training.
The test relies on role-play. An actual learner and qualified driver play no actual role in the test. Instead the Examiner will describe each pupil to you and then role-play the character. You will then need to adapt your instruction to suit the personality and level of ability of that particular student.
During the test you will be assessed under the following headings:
- Core competencies
- Instructional techniques
- Instructor characteristics
These are sub-divided into the following categories:
- Identification of faults
- Fault analysis
- Remedial action
- Level of instruction
- Control of lesson
- Question and answer techniques
- Feedback and encouragement
- Instructor's use of controls
- Approach to pupil
The maximum grade attainable in each is six and you must attain a grade of at least four in each in order to pass the exam.
Driving Instructor Training - Trainee Licence
A potential ADI doesn't have to wait until they have passed all three parts of the driving instructor exam before taking on paying students.
Once you have passed parts 1 and 2, have undergone at least 40 hours of training with a qualified ADI and have a qualified ADI sponsor you, you can apply for a licence, which will allow you to take paying students over a six-month period.