How are instructors assessed?
As per the three elements listed above, you’ll face three assessments on your way to becoming a qualified driving instructor. Click on the dropdown buttons to reveal more on each.
First, you’ll take a theory test. This is like the theory test that all new drivers have to take, and it includes multiple-choice questions to assess your knowledge of the rules of the road. It also includes a hazard perception test. What differentiates it from the typical test is that its content refers to instructional techniques.
Practical driving test
Next, you’ll take a practical driving test. Again, this can be compared to the driving test you took when you first got your license. Driving instructors are expected to pass this test at a high level. If you have a weakness in your driving abilities – for example, you struggle with certain maneuvers – it would be sensible to work on this before you book your test.
Instructional ability test
Finally, you’ll take an instructional ability test. Unlike the other tests, this focuses on teaching, not driving. This is a practical test that seeks to evaluate how you’ll perform as a driving instructor in the real world. You’ll plan and deliver a class to a pupil, using specific teaching strategies. This test will also assess your ability to manage risk as you teach.
What do I do once I’m qualified?
One of the reasons people are attracted to the career of a driving instructor is the level of freedom and independence that it can offer. However, others prefer to use their skills in a more stable work environment, and that is also available in this profession.
Once you’re fully qualified and registered to teach, you have options. You might join a driving school franchise and benefit from being part of a well-known organisation. You might work for an independent driving school with a strong local reputation. Alternatively, you might start your own driving school business.
Each path has its advantages and its disadvantages, so consider your options carefully and decide which is best for you — based on your circumstances and your personal preferences.
Work for a driving school franchise
If you’re worried about attracting enough clients, a driving school franchise might be a good option for you. Why? Because you’ll be working as part of a well-known brand. That may be preferable to attempting to make own your name as a newcomer against established competitors.
Often, there are additional benefits to working for a driving school franchise. For example, they might supply you with a vehicle and provide admin support for your activities. In exchange for all this, you’ll be expected to pay a franchise fee and meet certain standards to uphold the brand.
Before you commit to working for a driving school franchise, ensure that your fee represents value for money. The main disadvantage to this working arrangement is that you enjoy less freedom, but you also have less responsibility. You shouldn’t have to spend time and money marketing your services, for example. A lot of the day-to-day business will be handled by the franchise.
Work for an independent driving school
If you’d rather work as part of a team but you’re not sure a large franchise is for you, why not join an independent driving school in an associate capacity? You’ll enjoy greater freedom, for example, in selecting the car you wish to teach from, but you’ll still enjoy the infrastructure and marketing services provided by the driving school.
Like you were joining a franchise, you’ll still be expected to pay a fee. The good news is that this fee tends to be much lower than the typical franchise fee. When joining an independent driving school, you’ll also have to sign a contract. Of course, you should confirm that the agreement meets your needs before you make any commitment.
Because an independent driving school affords more freedom than a franchise without the responsibility of setting up a brand-new business, many newly licensed driving instructors find this to be a good “middle way” for their career paths.
Set up your own driving school business
This is undoubtedly the most ambitious option of the three, and it could be considered the riskiest too! On the plus side, setting up your own business means you won’t owe a fee to anyone, and you’ll be free to work exactly as you like. However, you’ll also have many responsibilities beyond simply teaching.
Without the infrastructure of an established driving school, you’ll have to handle your own accounting, scheduling, customer service, and marketing. All of this can be very time-consuming! If you’re not experienced in these areas, you’ll have to invest your time (and potentially your money) in learning the new skills that you need.
Whether this is the right option for you or not really depends on your personality.
- Do you enjoy working alone?
- Are you excited by the prospect of new challenges?
- Are you motivated to build a business from scratch?
If you say yes to all of the above, you might enjoy great success and satisfaction setting up your own driving school business.
Where can I get more advice?
Now you understand the ins and outs of this profession and how to become a driving instructor. If you still need more specific advice or information tailored to your individual situation, you might consider approaching the following organisations:
The ADI FederationThe ADI regulates the approved driving instructor database. This is an independent organisation that provides support to drivers on its register. You can obtain information, access support, and attend meetings with fellow registered driving instructors by contacting the ADI federation.
Driving Instructors AssociationThe DIA is a professional body for both qualified and trainee instructors. Here, you can access educational resources related to driving instruction. If you’re already qualified, you can build more specialist skills through their driving instructor training. The organisation has its own magazine and it also runs industry events for members.
Motor Schools Association
The MSA is the senior national association for approved driving instructors. This is an information resource for driving instructors, and it also provides services and support. The MSA has ten different regions, each with its own chairperson, so you might choose to communicate with your local contact for area-specific advice.