Are you thinking of becoming a driving instructor?

This article is intended on giving a brief insight into what's involved in becoming a driving instructor and whether or not it's a job you may want to pursue. Having been a driving instructor for over 8 years and spoken to literally hundreds of driving instructors all around the country, I believe I am in a good position to good advice on becoming a driving instructor, which most importantly is completely unbiased. One of the first things you will need to appreciate is that if you become a driving instructor, you will be self employed and need to be flexible in the hours you work.

You may well have seen the glossy TV adverts for driving instructor training from Red Driving School, The Instructor College and BSM, featuring smiling driving instructors, nice shiny cars and the promises of earning lots of money, meeting “great” people'
“Become a Driving Instructor” adverts now appear in every local newspaper filled with appealing promises such as;  "Earn £30 to £35,000!"   "No previous experience required”   “Train for a recession proof career”    ”Work the hours you choose”   “It's a job for life”...etc

The first thing to highlight is that driving instructor training is big business and the cost of training can be thousands of pounds, so it's no more a sales pitch that you get. The companies just want to sell you their training packages, so will often tell you want you want to hear. Some training companies will make the initial fee more appealing, but tie you in to a franchise once you qualify, this does more often than not mean you pay out far more in total.

There are 3 tests that you will need to pass in becoming a fully qualified driving instructor which are tough and the vast majority of people give up or fail….

Part 1: The first test you will need to pass is a computer based theory and hazard perception test, the pass rates are around 50%, but you can have unlimited attempts to pass.

Part 2: The second test is a practical test of your driving ability, again the pass rates are around 50%.

Part 3: The third part is a practical test of your ability to instruct, by far the toughest test for most people with an average pass rate of around 30%.

With part two and three you only get three attempts to pass and you need to qualify within a 2 year period of passing part one or will need to start again (this does happen a lot!) In the Driving Standards Agency’s own words; “The qualifying process is not easy, and the pass rates are not high…” it will take you between 6 months to 2 years.

It may be a good idea not to pay out a lump sum, as many training packages don't offer any refunds if you fail or even if you don't complete the full course. I know of a couple of people who paid around £4,000 only to pack it in at the first stage! This would have cost the training company very little, however no refund was given. Many smaller driving schools carry out instructor training courses, where as in the past there were just a few large companies. I would recommend you negotiate a good deal with an established driving school in your area where possible, this will make fitting in the practical training easier and it's more likely you could get a better deal.

Often the deal on an instructors training course may involve signing up to a franchise of at least a year, which may require you paying £200+ a week when you start and it's very unlikely you will have a full diary to earn a decent amount of money in the first place. I believe BSM have up to 50% of their franchisees leaving after a year, which tells its own story!

There is no shortage of driving instructors, with most areas in the UK already having more driving schools than necessary, leaving many established instructors struggling to keep a full diary. Since 2002 the amount of driving instructors has gone up over 40% to over 44,700. Recent statistics were showing that if every driving instructor had an equal share of pupils they would only have around 15, where most instructors looking for a reasonably full diary would want at least double!

If you are used to working as an employee and knowing how much money you’re going to get every week or every month, you’ll need to be able to adapt to the uncertainty of self-employment, where regular work and therefore regular income can't be relied upon.

I have been to speaking to many Driving instructors throughout the country are worried about getting  enough work to make a living and who are struggling, taking second jobs if they can find them, or simply packing in driving instruction altogether. Driving lesson prices are falling as the number of people wanting driving lessons starts to decline due to the credit crunch/recession and instructors compete for work.

Summary:

There is no shortage of driving instructors in any areas of the UK, so if you're going to train up be mindful that it will take time to build business, as you will time need to build a good reputation. Most instructors rely on referrals from pupils they have taught, generating new pupils where they haven't been recommended is hard and advertising is expensive. It may be wise where you have another job, to continue with it if possible part time whilst building your driving school. The training is likely to take some time and be careful you don't pay out too much.