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Career Advice

How to Become an Approved Driving Instructor

driving instructorMost people believe that they are great drivers (whether they are or not) and many folks will at some point consider if they have what it takes to become a driving instructor. However, there’s a lot more to this high pressure job than just ‘take the next right’ and ‘check your mirror’ – as a driving instructor you will be tasked with ensuring the safety of  yourself, your student and other people on the road. Anyone who has ever been a student driver will know just how intense a job it can be and the level of knowledge and professional skill it entails (patience and a good sense of humour can go a long way too).  There are of course fantastic benefits that go hand-in-hand with being a driving instructor – it is one of those jobs which lends itself very well to being your own boss and provides the freedom and flexibility for you to set your own working hours. So if you think you have the drive and determination to have a successful career as a driving instructor take a look…

Types of Driving Instructor

When we think of a driving instructor we envisage a person in the passenger seat of a hatchback keeping an eagle-eyed watch over a driving novice.  But of course that is only one type of driving instructor – after all there are more than just cars on the road. The most common types of driving instructor are:

  • Standard Motorcar Driving Instructor

  • Heavy Goods Vehicle (HGV) Driving Instructor

  • Large Goods Vehicle (LGV) Driving Instructor

  • Passenger Carrying Vehicles

  • Motorcycle Driving Instructor

Work Activities

As a driving instructor you will be teaching students to

  • Have a good attitude towards driving

  • Have an excellent approach to road safety

  • Manoeuvre their vehicle in a safe, effective, accurate and legal manner

  • Carry out basic vehicle checks

  • Properly follow the highway code

  • Develop a keen sense of hazard perception


l platesAs you would expect driving instruction is a very tightly regulated industry which is overseen (in the UK) by the Driving Standards Agency (DSA). In fact it is against the law for any person who is not approved by the DSA to charge a fee to instruct others to drive.  In order to become an approved driving instructor you will need a have held full British or Northern Ireland unrestricted driving licence for at least 4 years.

First off you will want to visit Gov.uk to register and check if you are a suitable candidate. Once this has been confirmed you will need to successfully complete the DSA Approved Driving Instructor Test. The test consists of 3 Parts:

  • Part One (Theory Test) Cost £90 – This is a 1hr 45min test that will test your knowledge of the highway code, traffic signs and your hazard perception skills.

  • Part Two (Practical Test) Cost £111 – This portion will include an eyesight test, vehicle safety questions and your driving ability

  • Part Three (Practical Test) –  This exam will assess your suitability to be a driving instructor, including core competencies, instructional techniques and instructor characteristics.

Once you have successfully completed the 3 stages of the examination process you will then within 12 months need to apply for your first ADI badge in order to make your accreditation official.

Technically you do not need to undertake any formal instruction in order to take and pass the ADI examinations, however there are many driving schools in the industry who will provide this service.  It is worth nothing that some of these will include a contract clause which states that you must practice as a member of their franchise once you have qualified, which will suit some, but not others so be sure to check the small print.

Professional Development

Once you have successfully qualified as an ADI you will then be in a position to gain further qualifications to boost your professional credibility or specialise into different types of vehicles.  The Driving Instructors’ Association offers many courses to further your professional skills including awards in; business knowledge, vehicle knowledge, driving theory, driver education, emergency first aid etc.  There is also the option to complete an NVQ Level 3 in Driving Instruction.

Skills required to be a good driving instructor

It goes without saying that you must be a good, careful and responsible driver but some other skills which may be useful are:

  • Excellent skills in verbal communication and the ability to give clear and concise instructions

  • The flexibility to adapt your teaching methods to suit individual students with varying degrees of ability

  • Good interpersonal skills and the ability to keep your cool in often stressful situations

  • An eagle eye for developing hazards and the ability to react quickly to avoid dangerous situations

  • Patience – Remember you will be teaching people who may be very nervous of driving at first, therefore remaining calm and reassuring is essential to boosting their confidence

  • At least a foundation knowledge of vehicle mechanics

  • Organisational skills to properly plan your work and manage your diary of appointments

If you are still thinking of becoming a driving instructor, good luck and we hope you have found this quick guide useful!  Otherwise take a look at our fab career directory where you are sure to find something to suit.


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