Becoming A Driving Instructor – What Could Be Better?

Becoming A Driving Instructor V Starting An Online Business

becoming a driving instructor

If you fancy starting a business you might be thinking about becoming a driving instructor. My partner is a very busy driving instructor and I’ve seen her journey from the start. I thought I’d share her experience and compare it to my own business as an Internet affiliate marketer. I think for most people looking at starting a business mine is the better option but read on and decide for yourself.

When my partner first looked into becoming a driving instructor, the advertising then as now was pretty misleading. Many of the driving schools and instructor training providers use phrases like: Choose your own hours, earn £30K per year, build your business around your life etc.

Becoming A Driving Instructor – The Hard Facts

becoming a driving instructorSadly, unless you are very lucky as my partner was, nothing could be further from the truth. Unless you find a qualified instructor who is prepared to mentor you for the love of it (rare) costs can be high. On top of any training costs (around £2K) there are three tests to pass. Each test is increasingly challenging and each costs money. You’ll have only 3 attempts at each. Fail the final test 3 times and you can have a long wait before you are allowed to start again.

Once through all these tests you will also be required to sit regular check tests. You’ll have 2 chances to pass these before potentially losing your instructor licence.

It’s no wonder then that becoming a driving instructor carries a high drop out rate. But lets say you fly through all the tests first, second or third time and get your ADI badge. What next?

Franchise Or Independent?

Well, you are faced with a couple of options: Start out on your own or join one of the many driving schools on offer. If you choose the first you’ll need to finance and maintain your own car, which will need dual controls fitted. You’ll also need to advertise for pupils. If you choose the second you’ll get the car – for a monthly fee. You’ll usually also pay a franchise fee. Some schools provide you with pupils, some don’t.

Still interested in becoming a driving instructor? Read on.

The Job Itself

Lets say your desire to become a driving instructor has got you past all the initial hurdles. Whether you go it alone or with a franchise this is the reality.

Depending on where you live you will find a lot of competition – just look around and notice how many instructors there are. That can mean either taking a long time to get known and start filling your diary and/or having to undercut the competition for business.

The Money

Overall in the UK an hourly lesson averages £25. Some instructors and schools offer introductory rates: first 10 lessons for £99 etc. Do the maths. Say you want to do this part time to – as they say – build your business around your lifestyle. A 24-hour week at full price might gross you £600 – not bad. But if you’re paying a franchise fee, car fee and add your petrol costs you can realistically half that.

Again, for a part time business that’s not too bad. The reality is though that pupils cancel at short notice, pass tests and to be blunt – mess you around. That means that managing the diary can take many more hours on top. Your 24 hours actual teaching can easily become 30 hours or more and your earnings can drop substantially at short notice.

Bear in mind also that especially in the early days you’ll need to take on pupils at a time that suits them – not you. People fit driving lessons in around jobs, college or Uni and their own commitments.

Managing The Business

In these days of smartphones and social media it’s considered OK for people to cancel lessons at short notice by text or Facebook message. My partner like most instructors charges a full lesson fee for a cancellation under 24hrs notice. This however is not enforceable and some (not all) pupils will simply disappear rather than paying. The only way to guarantee payment is to sell blocks of lessons paid up front.

Very often my partner has to react to text messages at all hours of the day and night. This usually involves juggling lessons around – even as she’s leaving the house to start her day. Aside from potentially losing earnings it also leaves gaps in her day. If it’s not worth coming home she is basically kicking her heels for an hour or two.

Becoming A Driving Instructor – A Case Study

becoming a driving instructor

My partner passed her 3 ADI tests in the following order: 1st test first time, second test 2nd time. She failed the 3rd test three times. Luckily this had taken 2 years so she was able re-sit and pass test 3 right away. It was a very stressful process and she very nearly gave up. She trained with RED, which was expensive. She also felt that she often did not get enough one on one time as they train in groups.

Pupils are also expected to “buddy up” in their spare time and/or pay for additional training from qualified instructor trainers.

My partner got very lucky and met a fabulous instructor who helped her out a lot and invited her to join her own driving school at no cost. That gave her an established name to work under and some useful business resources. We re-mortgaged our house to buy her first car for cash. So she hit the ground running.

Building The Business

becoming a driving instructorIt was still a struggle to fill her diary but gradually, having few overheads, she built a profitable business. We’ve since moved to an area where instructors are in short supply and demand is high. She can work as much as she wants to and has a waiting list. She chooses to work 4 days per week but spends a lot of down time managing her diary.


It’s not my intention to put you off becoming a driving instructor – just to make you aware of the reality. It can be a very fulfilling career. You’re teaching life changing skills and nothing beats being your own boss. It does take a lot of dedication to qualify and on an ongoing basis. It’s also considered one of the highest stress occupations going.

Money wise, if you get a few breaks and keep the costs down you can make a nice living. There are however only so many hours one person can work so there is an earnings ceiling. You could of course look at building your own franchise and employing instructors but that’s a whole different ball game.

Comparison – Starting An Online Business

becoming a driving instructorAround the same time as my partners business started to pick up, I was made redundant. Not great timing – but thems the breaks. I decided to start an online business. Having a bit of knowledge from my work in business development I opted for affiliate marketing – selling other people’s products online.

After a lot of due diligence I found a company called SFM (Six Figure Mentors) who offered high level training and a franchise style affiliate business partnership. I decided to invest some of my redundancy pay off with them.

Cost wise this totalled around £4k. That gave me a range of high demand products to sell online which earned commissions of £20, £150, £800, £1000 and £3000 per sale. I recouped my investment in 3 months and was in profit soon after.

I think this knocks becoming a driving instructor as a business into a cocked hat for several reasons.

Why Starting An Online Business Is Better
  1. An Internet business genuinely does offer a lot of time freedom. The work involved in generating sales doesn’t take a lot of time. It’s a 24/7/365, global business, which can be largely automated.


  1. It’s completely location independent. As long as you have a laptop and an Internet connection you can do it from anywhere.


  1. The income potential is virtually unlimited. Unlike a traditional one-man business, there are no restrictions to the amount of customers you can handle. Your market is basically the entire world.


  1. There are virtually no limits to the range of products and services that can be sold online.


  1. There are few running costs aside from Internet advertising, which unlike traditional advertising, can be highly targeted and extremely profitable.

An Alternative Worth Considering

In summary then: If you are determined to become a driving instructor then I hope the information above will help prepare you properly. If on the other hand you are just looking for a straightforward business to start with no previous experience I’d urge you to think again.

The Internet has grown in leaps and bounds over the last decade. Starting an online business is now actually safer than a traditional business. There are no Internet business training schools advertising on TV as driving schools do (yet). You find those, not surprisingly, on the internet.

Click on the link below for a free introductory video series from two of the worlds top digital training companies SFM and DEA.


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