Now that driving lessons can restart following lockdown restrictions being relaxed, becoming an approved driving instructor (ADI) is a viable career once more. As well as providing an opportunity to start a new career path, becoming a driving instructor will allow you to effectively become your own boss. Our Brightside Car Insurance guide to becoming a driving instructor will cover how to become a driving instructor, how long it takes and how much it can cost to do so.
How to Train as a Driving Instructor
Being an approved driving instructor is a very rewarding experience. However, before you leap into training to be a driving instructor you’ll need to assess whether you’re suited to the profession. To be fit to be an ADI, you’ll need to be:
- Knowledgeable about both theoretical and practical driving and have a strong grasp of and respect for the Highway Code
- Able to effectively communicate and impart driving knowledge to others
- Flexible in adapting working hours to fit the schedules of your students
- Patient and empathetic to any mistakes made by students – everyone has to start somewhere
- Interested in keeping up-to-date with changes to both driving test regulations and driving lesson guidelines
If you can inhabit these behaviours, you are already well on your way! Check through the Gov.uk website to see if you are eligible for the technical criteria to become an ADI. If successful, you will need to get a criminal record check before beginning the DVLA application process to become a qualified driving instructor.
Driving Instructor Tests
In the DVLA’s application process, there are three tests that you will have to pass within a two-year timeframe to become an approved driving instructor. Each of these tests can be booked on the Gov.uk website through the DVLA’s application process. These tests are as follows:
Driving Instructor Theory Test
‘Part 1’ of the tests you will have to pass to become an ADI is the driving instructor theory test. The theory test is comprised of two parts – multiple-choice questions and a hazard perception test. To pass the former you will need to get a score of at least 80%. The questions cover :
- The Highway Code
- Knowledge of traffic signs
- Essential driving skills
- The Official DVSA Theory Test for Approved Driving Instructors pack
- The Driving Instructor’s Handbook
Both the Approved Driving Instructors pack and the Driving Instructor’s Handbook are available to purchase online or from most high street bookshops.
The hazard perception test then presents you with around fourteen film clips in which you will have to recognise and respond to potential hazards that appear in each.
NOTE: While very similar, both the ‘Part 1’ and ‘Part 2’ theory and practical driving instructor tests are separate to the theory and practical driving tests a learner driver takes. However, if you are an experienced driver you will be expected to have a greater understanding and knowledge of driving skills and theory.
Driving Instructor Practical Test
‘Part 2’ of the tests to become a driving instructor is the practical test. This test will take approximately one hour to complete and is composed of five parts:
- An eyesight check
- ‘Show me, tell me’ vehicle safety questions in which you’ll have to demonstrate that you know how to carry out basic safety tasks while driving
- General driving ability
- Manoeuvres, such as reversing and parallel parking
- Independent driving using either traffic signs or directions from a sat nav
To pass the practical test, you will need to make no more than six driving faults, with none of those faults being serious or dangerous. If you make a serious or dangerous fault at any time over the course of the test, the test will be ended early and you will have to book a new test to try and pass again. Once you have passed the ‘Part 2’ practical test, you will then be able to apply for a six-month trainee instructor licence to get practical experience teaching students. However, this is completely optional.
Instructional Ability Test
‘Part 3’ of the tests you will need to pass is the Instructional Ability Test, which assesses your ability to teach others how to drive. A DVSA examiner will observe you as you give a client-centred driving lesson (a lesson dictated by the learner’s pace) to one of your pupils, lasting about an hour. However, this student must not be an ADI themselves or someone else preparing to take the ‘Part 3’ ability test. In the test, you will be marked on seventeen areas of teaching competence across three categories:
- Lesson planning
- Risk management
- Teaching and learning strategies
A full breakdown of the seventeen competencies you will be marked against can be found in the ‘Part 3’ test report form, which your instructor will fill in once your test has finished. Each competency will be scored from 0-3, which will then all be added together to determine if you have passed and your resulting grade.
Once you have passed all three parts of the test, you will be a fully approved driving instructor – congratulations! You will need to register for your ADI certificate within 12 months to begin charging for lessons. Once you have your green certified ADI badge to display in your windscreen, you have the option to either work with an established driving school or provide lessons independently.
How much does it cost to become a driving instructor?
A breakdown of the costs of becoming an approved driving instructor, as of July 2020, are as follows:
- DBS Criminal Record Check: £6 – will need renewing every 4 years
- ‘Part 1’ Theory Test: £81 per booking
- ‘Part 2’ Practical Test: £111 per booking
- 6-Month Trainee Instructor Licence [Optional]: £140
- ‘Part 3’ Instructional Ability Test: £111 per booking
- First ADI Certificate: £300 – will need renewing every 4 years
How long does it take to become a driving instructor?
It will take approximately six months to complete the background checks and pass all three parts of the tests required to become an approved driving instructor, assuming you pass every test on your first attempt. Repeated attempts to pass one or more tests will increase the total time needed for you to become an ADI.
How old do you have to be to become a driving instructor?
You must be at least 21 years of age to become an approved driving instructor in the UK. However, you can usually apply to begin the qualifying process to become an ADI 6 months before your 21st birthday, as it takes approximately 6 months to qualify as outlined above. Ensure that your car is fully covered for instructional purposes with a bespoke car insurance policy available through Brightside Car Insurance’s brokering services today.