Driving instructors teach learner drivers how to drive well enough to pass their driving test. They prepare learners for both the theory test and the on-road practical driving test. They are also called Approved Driving Instructors (ADIs).
Most driving instructors use a specially adapted car with dual controls to train the learner driver. You could be:
- planning each lesson and each route to suit the individual learner driver
- sitting next to the learner driver throughout the lesson and directing which way to go
- explaining how to use the vehicle controls and, when necessary, taking over using the dual controls
- describing how to do various manoeuvres, such as reversing or turning in the road
- demonstrating how to carry out basic mechanical procedures such as checking the oil level or changing a tyre
- explaining how to deal with different situations, such as roundabouts or traffic lights
- explaining how to handle the vehicle on different types of roads and in different weather conditions
- teaching the Highway Code, safety awareness and observation skills
- assessing when the learner is ready for the test and then arranging it with the test centre.
Specialist driving instructors teach people to drive large goods vehicles (LGVs) or passenger carrying vehicles (PCVs).
The figures below are only a guide. Actual pay rates may vary, depending on:
- where you work
- the size of the company or organisation you work for
- the demand for the job.
Most ADIs work on a freelance basis, either setting up their own business or running a franchise with an already established company. This means that income varies according to number of clients and hours worked. Average hourly rates charged is around £25 an hour; expenses such as car maintenance would have to be deducted from this amount. Instructors may have to buy or lease their own dual-control car.
- Some driving instructors are employed by a driving school, but most work on a franchise basis for a driving school or are self-employed.
- You work varied and irregular hours, including evenings and weekends.
- In some cases the learner comes to the driving school for the lesson but in other cases the instructor has to collect the learner at home or work.
- You spend most of your time sitting in the confined space of the instruction car.
- You have to make sure that the car is clean and comfortable.
- If you are self-employed you would need to buy or lease your own car and make sure it meets the requirements of the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA).
- You have to teach people who may be nervous and require reassurance.
- The work can be stressful at times, and there is a risk of being involved in traffic accidents.
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To be a driving instructor your name must be on the Register of Approved Driving Instructors (ADI), or you must hold a trainee's 'Licence to give instruction'. These arrangements are administered by the DVSA, an executive agency of the Department of Transport, under the provisions of the Road Traffic Act 1988.
- A good general education is useful.
- You must be at least 21 years of age to accompany a learner driver, but you can apply to start the qualifying process six months before your 21st birthday.
- You must hold a full UK or European Union car driving licence.
- You must have held your licence for at least three years before joining the register, although you can start the qualifying process six months before the third anniversary of obtaining your licence.
- If you have ever been disqualified from driving, have six or more penalty points or have been convicted of any non-motoring offences then your application may be refused.
- You must pass all three parts of the qualifying examination set by the DVSA and apply for registration within twelve months of passing the final part of the examination. You can apply for a trainee driving instructor licence after passing part 2, which last for 6 months.
- You'll have at least one standards check and must renew your registration every four years.
- If you have a disability which restricts your licence to automatics you can still train to be an instructor by obtaining the Emergency Control Certificate for Disabled Drivers.
- You will require a satisfactory criminal record check from Disclosure Scotland to show that you are suitable for this type of work. Contact Disclosure Scotland for details on the type you would need.
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What Does it Take?
You need to be:
- an excellent driver
- patient and tolerant
- alert and observant
- able to deal with emergencies quickly and safely
- calm while working under pressure
- assertive enough to give constructive feedback and advice
- aware of road safety issues
- business-minded, if self-employed.
You need to have:
- a thorough knowledge of the Highway Code
- good communications skills, including the ability to explain things in simple terms
- quick reactions.
- You should choose a training organisation which is listed by the DVSA in the Official Register of Driving Instructor Training (ORDIT).
- The qualifying examination for entry to the Register of Approved Driving Instructors is in three parts: a computer-based theory test, a practical test of your driving ability and a practical test of your ability to instruct learners.
- You must take the three parts of the examination in the above order, and you must complete the whole examination within two years of passing the theory test.
- Once you are qualified, you would be able to take further courses provided by the Driving Instructors Association (DIA), such as the Diploma in Driver Education (DipDE).
- With experience, an instructor can progress to become a senior instructor and perhaps a driving school manager.
- Alternatively, you could become a self-employed driving instructor and perhaps set up your own driving school.
- You might decide to become a driving examiner.
You can download a free document on training and qualifications from the DVSA website, 'Guide to the Approved Driving Instructor (ADI) Register’. See the DVSA website for more information.
The following organisations may be able to provide further information.
Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA)
Tel: 0300 200 1122
The DVSA replaced the Driving Standards Agency (DSA) in April 2014. Its aim is to promote road safety through improving driving standards, testing drivers, motorcyclists and driving instructors, maintaining the registers of Approved Driving Instructors and Large Goods Vehicle Instructors and supervising training for learner motorcyclists.
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