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How to Become a Driving Instructor

Driving instructors help student drivers to develop the instinct, confidence and skills required to drive a motor vehicle safely and pass a driving test. These professionals possess excellent instructional, communication and interpersonal skills. If you are good at helping others learn new things, and have the patience to give them ample time to learn, you could become a driving instructor.

What do Driving Instructors do?

The main duty of a driving instructor is to train student drivers into competent drivers. To achieve this, they;

  • Assess students to determine their driving needs and abilities
  • Teach students on road safety, handling emergency situations, road signs and driving laws and the Highway Code
  • Instruct students to operate driving controls, maneuver safely and conduct vehicle checks
  • Train pupils to drive on busier roads, roundabouts and dual carriages to build their motorway driving skills
  • Apply for driving tests on behalf of students

Work Environment

Driving instructors usually adjust their work schedules to meet the needs of students. This means they often work during the evenings and weekends. Instructors on full-time jobs can work up to 48 hours a week.

Although driving instructors teach theory lessons in driver education classrooms, they spend most of their time in driver instruction vehicles where they hold practical lessons with students.


The following table highlights salaries for driving instructors at various career levels;

Job Level

Annual Average Salary

Beginning instructors


Established instructors


Senior instructors


Source: National Careers Service

Education and Training

Registering with the Driving Standards Agency is the first step that an aspiring driving instructor must take. The registration requirements include;

  • A UK or EU driving license that has had ‘full’ status for at least four of the last six years
  • No driving disqualifications in the last four years
  • Pass criminal background and motoring conviction checks
  • Complete a theory test and two practical tests within two years of the theory test

The tests are split into three parts as follows;

  • A computer-based theory exam
  • A practical test for driving skills
  • A practical test for teaching ability

The tests are administered by select driving schools and specialist training schools. Visit the Department of Transport to find a complete list of driving instructor trainers.

After passing the computer-based theory exam, you will earn a trainee license that is valid for six months. Within this period, you can secure paid employment in a driving school. Passing all the three exams enables you to join the Approved Driving Instructor list and obtain a registration certificate, which you can display in your driver instruction car.

It is important to note that you can take the computer-based theory exam as many times until you pass. However, the number of times you can take the practical tests is limited.

Required Skills

  • Superior driving skills and mastery of road safety tips
  • Excellent instructional skills
  • Excellent verbal communication skills
  • Patience and good observation skills
  • Knowledge of car maintenance practices
  • Ability to react quickly and appropriately to emergency situations

Career Development

To keep working as a driving instructor, you must renew your ADI registration. This involves passing tests to prove your suitability to work as an instructor.

You can pursue specialist qualifications to move into teaching students who are learning to drive passenger carrying vehicles and large goods vehicles.

Also, you can pursue the NVQ Level 3 in Driving Instruction program and join the Driving Instructors’ Association to access its career development resources.

Employment Opportunities

The employers for qualified driving instructors include;

  • Franchised driving schools
  • Transport companies
  • The Driving Standards Agency

You can also move into self-employment by establishing a driving school.

Finally, developing positive relationships with your student drivers is crucial to being a successful driving instructor. They will certainly spread the word about your outstanding people skills, hence sending new students your way.

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