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How much does it really cost to become a driving instructor?

By March 19, 2021Uncategorized

The absolute minimum cost assuming you need no training at all, and pass every exam first time is £609
(prices believed correct at time of writing, however you can check yourself on the DVSA website).

Be aware that the vast majority of training packages offered do not include these costs or the costs of any retests you may need in the headline price.

  • DBS Check – £6
  • ADI Part 1 Theory Test £81
  • ADI Part 2 Driving Test £111
  • ADI Part 3 Instructional Ability Test £111
  • ADI Badge valid for 4 years:  £300
  • Total : £609

How much does training cost?

Driving Lessons for learners can be as low as £22 per hour and as high as £40 per hour depending on area (and that’s just a rough guide so you’ll probably find people charging more and less).

For in car instructor training, we’ll use £30 an hour as an example for now on. (And yes, that’s slightly on the low side, but we’ll aim for a best-case scenario)

There are two routes to qualification.

Route 1 – Straight to the ADI Badge

Take whatever number of hours you think you need hopefully in consultation with a trainer, taking a Part 1,2,3 test and becoming fully qualified.
There is no minimum or maximum number of hours training you need for this.

You could study for the Part 1 and the Part 2 test by yourself. This route may work out cheaper than buying a training package if you have previous experience in Advanced Driving and Teaching.

You will need a pupil to use for the Part 3 test and you are not allowed to charge for tuition. You don’t have to use a learner you could use a full license holder.

This route was probably the most common route when the Part 3 test was based on role play and you didn’t need to bring a driver. One of the reasons for the rule giving you a maximum of 3 attempts at the test was introduced due to people just continually taking the test until they knew all the exercises and passed!.

The cost for this will obviously vary depending on how many hours you take.

Part 2 Training Costs

The industry standard is usually around 8 hours, so £240 training cost for the Part 2

With a larger company this 8 hour is often provided 2:1.

How much or how little training you require will of course depend on the standard of your driving.

PDIs who have recent advanced driving qualifications, either professionally or from many of the voluntary groups such as IAM or RoSPA will usually only need a couple of hours to cover the specific requirements of the DVSA test.

Route 2 – Trainee License Options

After passing the Part 2 test you can apply for a trainee license lasting 6 months. This allows you to charge for driving lessons while you are learning and hopefully gives you a wide variety of pupils at different levels and subjects to choose from for use on your Part 3 rather being restricted to just a friend or a relative.

The Trainee License has to be sponsored by an an ADI and you are not allowed to advertise or operate a driving school under your own name.

The “catch” to the trainee license route is that after passing the Part 2 test you must have 40 hours training, and then an additional 20 hours once you have received the badge. (There is a supervision option where 20% of lessons have to be supervised by an ADI instead but that option is rarely used as for obvious reasons it would work out more expensive paying for a trainer if you are doing a lot of lessons).

There are a few options on this route

  1. Sign up with an independent trainer who sponsors you, most will offer pay per hour rates for the 20 hours or a block booking. They probably will not be in a position to guarantee you a large number of pupils or offer a vehicle leasing scheme beyond referring you to the main ADI leasing companies.
  2. Sign up with a training company that trains you for Part 1, 2, and then 40 hours for the trainee license and then refers you to other companies who will sponsor you for a trainee license under their own terms, providing the 20 hours (usually with a different trainer that you’ve had for the part 2 and the 40 hours*) often tying you into a franchise fee.
  3. Sign up with a company that trains you for Part 1,2, gives you 40 hours and sponsors a trainee license and gives you 20 hours for Part 3, has a vehicle leasing scheme and ties you into a franchise agreement.
  4. Pass Part 1 and 2 yourself and then sign up with a company for the trainee license.
  • After each failed Part 3 attempt the PDI must have an extra 5 hours instruction. Is this provided in the costs? Is it in car or online?
  • What happens if I fail the Part 3, 3 times. Does the contact end? Do I have to pay anything?

How much does Part 3 Training Cost?

Using that rough £30 an hour as a training fee, then you are looking at £1940 for the 60 hours training which includes the £140 cost of the six-month trainee license

If taking training from a company then realise that’s just the fee to your trainer will receive, the company itself still needs to make a profit on top of that.

That’s rubbish as I’ve seen adverts saying become a driving instructor from £500 etc

Usually that doesn’t include the exam fees, and to offer the low initial price you’ll be tied into a contract and once you qualify that will probably end up costing you far more in franchise fees.

Your trainer still needs to be paid by them for your 60 training hours, so if you’re paying far less than the going rate for 60 hours the company will be recovering the costs another way unless they’re running at a loss! – See other things to be aware of lower down this page as well.

Contract lengths are usually 12 month, or 24 months.

This might be better for you if you can’t raise the funds for your training initially or can’t afford a suitable vehicle. Most people that go this route usually end up leaving the company once the contract term is up and going independent, but there are people that spend their entire careers in one franchise or another.

Is a franchise for me?

There is no easy answer to that question, signing up with a large company will mean that you will have a vehicle and livery supplied, someone to answer the phone and take the bookings CPD/training support (to a greater or lesser extent), however all this usually costs more than running your own vehicle and being independent or with a small local franchise. Some of the larger companies have come under criticism during COVID lockdown because they are still charging ADIs and PDIs who could not work, a full or partial franchise fee as the company still has to meet its own costs.

Other things to be aware of

If you sign up with a company offering a package you will usually (but not always find that the 40 hours training is 2:1, so you will only get 20 hours in the “hot seat” and 20 hours in the back watching someone else). Some people feel that watching another person in the ‘hot seat’ is as valuable as actually trying it yourself, others don’t.  Independent trainers rarely do 2:1 unless it’s specifically stated.

Due to a quirk of the regulations only 10 hours of the 40 needs to be provided in the car.  I do not currently know of any companies that only offer 10 hours  in car, but check exactly what you are getting. One of the ways that companies can reduce the in-car costs of paying a trainer and offer a lower price  is to provide some of the 40 hours as either classroom or online based training. This may or may not work for you.

Guaranteed Pupils

Guaranteed Pupils?

Ensure you read the small print of any contract. No-one can guarantee customers in any industry, and that’s before we think about things like the COVID lockdowns.

The economy could go up or down, and the demographics of learners and instructors in your area might mean that you must go much further afield for clients.

If you sign a contract with a monthly fee, is the company obliged to guarantee you enough pupils to cover that fee?

In a downturn you could be tied into a legally binding contact where you’re paying a fee, have few clients and the company has no obligation at all to provide you with anymore.

What do they mean by guaranteed? Is this just a lead or a confirmed booking?

How much are they charging? Look at the hourly rate, see how it compares to instructors in your area and work out if it’s worthwhile.

Some companies offer ridiculously low offers to get pupils in as it doesn’t cost the company anything but you’re the one that must provide the lessons.

Also, under the contract, can you adjust your hourly rate to what works for you or are you bound by the company pricing?

Trainee License is to Learn not Earn

The purpose of the trainee license is to allow you to gain experience for the Part 3 test. In normal circumstances the license is only issued for six months and there is no guarantee of a second license. (More leeway is given now due to Covid)

Many people join the industry after being made redundant and keen to earn money, rush into a trainee license with a full 40 hour a week diary.

This usually leaves them little time to practice the skills they need themselves and they end up failing the Part 3 or after two attempts going elsewhere for training for the 3rd and final attempt, which if unsuccessful leaves them unemployed again or having to wait until two years from the date they passed the Part 1 to start all over again.

On the other side of the argument Independent Instructors are less likely to be able to offer you a full diary immediately, although our experience it usually takes around two to three months for a PDI to get as many clients as they want when working with an independent.