How To Become A Driving Instructor

Becoming a driving instructor is an opportunity for you to learn a new trade, be your own boss, work your own hours, achieve job satisfaction and should you choose to work with an existing company such as ourselves, you also become a very important part of a business and receive backing, support and become surrounded by like minded colleagues.

Overall, it is a career with great rewards with the added benefit of knowing that you are giving people a new lease of life by helping them become mobile with their new driving skills.

There are some pre-requisites that you need to fulfil before applying and once approved you will need to take three separate tests from the Driving Standards Agency (DVSA). This could take you a few months to complete because of the length of training required. These are the three tests that you will need to pass:

  • Part 1: Theory Test
  • Part 2: Practical Driving Test
  • Part 3: Instructional Ability Test.
How to become a driving instructor in the UK

Have You Got what It Takes To Become An Instructor?

We’ll get into the requirements from the DVSA in just a minute but we think it would be beneficial if you explored your new potential career a little deeper with some advice from our many years of being driving instructors ourselves:

  • You need to be good with people. You will be dealing with a wide range of personality types in your day to day work, some of whom will be nervous. A good driving instructor should be a friendly but professional person who can put people at ease and still coax the best out of them while they are learning to drive.
  • You should have patience and compassion. People learn at difference paces, some have more confidence than others when learning to drive and will undoubtedly make mistakes. When they do you need to be the sort of person with the emotional intelligence to control the situation calmly, professionally in a way that re-assures the person learning to drive that they are in good hands.
  • You need to enjoy teaching other people. Seeing your students pass their driving test is a wonderful experience and it really is worth the wait, it was YOU who helped them do that. You need to enjoy teaching driving skills to others and all of the qualities that comes with being a good teacher such as having a good sense of humour, effectiveness when teaching, professionalism on the job and great communication skills so you can help people at all levels of ability.
  • You should have an entrepreneurial spirit. Being a driving instructor is not necessarily a 9 to 5 job, even when you work for a company you are still to an extent your own boss. This means that you need to be prepared for everything that this entails. You will have our devoted support every day but you still need that drive which sets you aside from workers, you are the boss and should be prepared for the responsibility that this brings with it.
  • You should be prepared to work hard. We’re not going to lie to you, life as an ADI means that you can work strange hours, be sat for a long time, deal with students at all stages of their learning from one lesson to the next, be constantly vigilant when on your driving lessons and professional; but it can also be incredibly rewarding both financially and personally.

Here at Quail’s School of Motoring we have tried and tested methods of teaching our new instructors to the highest level possible, we challenge you to find better training anywhere in the country!

We’ve been operating as a driving school since 1989 and we’re now the largest independent driving school in the North West of England. We’ve been able to do this because of the rock solid foundation of training that our instructors receive and we help more instructors pass than any other school in the North West.

Our reputation has grown organically over the many years we’ve been operating and it doesn’t look like it will slow down anytime soon. As we only use Grade A instructor trainers, we have a well deserved reputation for not only getting our students through their driving tests very quickly but also our new instructors without compromising on quality whatsoever!

We started training our own instructors after we realised that other ADI’s simply were not up to the high standards that we require of our team, we also realised that many of the “bigger companies” were charging a small fortune to become qualified – we don’t!

Driving Instructor Legal Requirements

  • You need to have held your license for a minimum of three years
  • Your license needs to be in the category that you intend to teach in
  • You cannot have 5 or more points on your driving license
  • You must be over 21 years of age
  • You must be able to read a license plate from 90 feet away (wearing glasses to do this is fine)
  • You must have not been convicted of a sexual, violent, financial or drug-related crime or have been banned from working with children

Before you can legally charge money (or monies worth) for driving instruction in a car, you must either:

  • be a recognised ADI on the official register
  • have a valid and current trainee driving instructor licence

Part 1: Theory Test

The ADI Part 1 is the theory test specifically tailored for aspiring driving instructors. It is part 1 of the three tests that you need to take in order to become a fully qualified driving instructor. 

Part-1_-Theory-Test ADI
PART 1: Theory Test

The driving instructor theory test is formatted in the same way that the learner driver theory test is laid out however, there are some crucial differences between the two. Here are some of the differences between the driving instructor theory test and the learner driver theory test: 

  • The multiple choice pass threshold is 85%
  • There are 100 questions 
  • Hazard perception pass threshold is 57 out of 75 
  • There are 2 sections to the test, to pass you have to pass the multiple choice and the hazard perception on the same day 

Hazard Perception and Multiple Choice Test 

The multiple choice section of the test has 100 questions that you have to answer. You must achieve:

The ADI Driving Instructor Multiple Choice Test Categories are as follows: 

  • Road procedure (you need to have in-depth knowledge on this topic) 
  • Traffic signs and signals, vehicle controls and some understanding of car maintenance 
  • Driving test, the law and disabilities( you will need to be well versed on the most recent laws and regulations) 
  • Teaching techniques and understanding how to convey information to learner drivers 

To pass the multiple choice section of the test, you need to get 85 out of 100. You need to score 85% to pass overall, a minimum of 20 out of 25 in each of the 4 categories. It is vital that test candidates study each section extensively because you must score at least 20 on each category to pass. You cannot get 20 on 3 categories and then a lower mark on the other section, you would fail the test. 

In order to pass the driving instructor theory test, you must take, and pass the hazard perception section of the test too. The hazard perception tests your driving awareness skills which is crucial if you want to be a fully qualified driving instructor. This is what the hazard perception test consists of: 

  • 14 video clips (you need to spot the hazard in each clip) 
  • All the clips include one hazard 
  • One clip contains 2 hazards 
  • You receive 5 points for hazard that you identify correctly 
  • You need 57 points to pass the hazard perception test 

You can book your driving instructor part 2 test, which is the practical portion of the test once you have passed your theory test. 

If you don’t pass the theory test the first time, you can retake it as many times as you like until you pass. However, with the other driving instructor tests, you are limited to a maximum of three attempts. 

Part 2: Practical Driving Test

To become a qualified driving instructor you need to be able to demonstrate excellent driving ability. Part 2 of the 3 driving instructor tests is the driving ability practical test. The duration of the test is one hour and it will include: 

part 2 - the practical driving test
Part 2: Practical Driving Test
  • Eyesight test 
  • Vehicle safety questions 
  • Driving ability 

Eyesight Test Requirements

You must take an eyesight test to ensure you can read a number plate – 26.5 metres for vehicles with a new-style number plate and 27.5 metres for vehicles with an old-style number plate.

Vehicle Safety 

The test examiner will ask you a series of five questions. Three of these questions are known as “tell me” questions. The remaining two questions are “show me” questions, here you will have to demonstrate your ability to take instruction and perform the required driving manoeuvre. If you become a driving instructor, these are the same questions that you will be asking your students. You will get a minor fault for providing a wrong answer, you will get a major fault for losing control of the vehicle when you are answering the show me questions. 

  • 3 ‘tell me’ questions (where you explain how you’d carry out a safety task) at the start of your test, before you start driving
  • 2 ‘show me’ questions (where you show how you’d carry out a safety task) while you’re driving

Driving Ability 

This is the most important part of the test and you must be able to demonstrate all of the following: 

  • Skilled handling of vehicle controls 
  • Understand and demonstrate correct lane discipline and road procedures 
  • Ability to anticipate and plan for potential hazards 
  • Ability to consider all road users 
  • Correct judgement of speed 
  • Eco friendly driving 
  • Be able to cope with all traffic conditions and situations 
  • You might be asked to perform an emergency stop 

Reversing Manoeuvres 

You will need to be able to demonstrate your manoeuvre capabilities with expert precision because you will be teaching these same manoeuvres to your learners. Your test examiner will ask you to do two of the following manoeuvres. 

  • Reverse parking into a bay 
  • Drive into a parking bay and reverse out of the bay 
  • Parallel parking 
  • Stop on the right side of the road and reverse for two car lengths then rejoin traffic 
  • Pull up next to a car and reverse into the space to the rear of the car. You need to be able to stop near the curb and within two car lengths of the car 

To pass, you need to be able to demonstrate expertise and the ability to maintain all around observation and consideration to other drivers and pedestrians. 

When the test is over, you will be given your test score. If the examiner gives you less than 5 minors and no major fault, you would have passed part 2 of the driving instructor test. You can now take part 3, the teaching ability test. 

Note: You can only take this test 3 times. If you fail all 3 tests, you cannot take another test until 2 years have passed. The 2 years is counted from the date you passed your theory test. 


Part 3: Instructional Ability Test

The ADI part 3 test allows you to demonstrate your teaching skills to an examiner. For this you will have to carry out a driving lesson with a real learner, the examiner will sit at the back and observe the lesson. 

Part 3: Instructional Ability Test

Your task will be to choose a subject for your learner, your lesson must be well thought and planned and you must fully focus on the needs and abilities of the learner driver. 

You will be marked on the following things: 

Note: you need to fully understand the test marking sheet as you will need to take the ADI check test in the first two years after you qualify as a driving instructor. 

Lesson Planning 

Did you correctly recognise the learner’s targets and needs? 

This part of the assessment is very important, you would need to be able to correctly identify your learner driver’s needs and goals before you can plan a lesson that meets those specific needs. 

Was the lesson plan right for the student’s past knowledge and ability? 

You and the learner driver must come to an agreement regarding the format of the lesson. However, it is up to you to create a fully functional plan to meet the students needs. The goal is to ensure that you teach, and the student learns. 

Was the route you chose  suitable for the learner? 

You need to make sure that the route you choose is appropriate for the ability of the learner driver. You need to challenge the learner, but safety is the number one priority here. 

Did you adapt the plan when necessary to help the student meet their learning objectives? 

You might need to tweak your plan during the lesson for example, if you planned to focus on roundabouts but they missed some crucial mirror checks along the way, you will have to work on correcting this before you move on. 

Total marks for this part of the test = 12 

Risk Management 

Did you explain risk management to the student? Both you, the trainer and the student are responsible for managing risk. 

Explain the responsibilities to the learner driver, you also need to provide the learner driver with information regarding dual controls.

Did you give clear and concise instructions to the pupil? 

This is vital, you need to speak clearly and make sure your pupil understands the instructions you are giving them. 

Were you fully aware of the surrounding area, did you plan ahead? 

As the trainer you need to be able to plan ahead, you should be able to anticipate potential hazards and make sure that the pupil is doing all the right things to prepare for potential hazards too. 

Did you intervene at the appropriate times? 

Sometimes it is necessary to intervene either vocally or physically. Did you carry out these interventions at the right time? 

Did you provide enough feedback to the aid the pupil’s understanding of any potential safety issues? 

You are responsible for ensuring that the pupil fully understands critical safety issues, you should be able to explain what went wrong, and why it was a crucial safety issue. 

 Total marks for this part of the test = 15 

Teaching and Learning strategies

Did you correctly identify the learners needs, and teach using the appropriate style? 

Did you encourage the pupil to think critically and take responsibility for their own progression as a learner driver? 

It is your responsibility to encourage your learner driver to think critically, analyse situations and solve problems. 

Did you use real life examples to reinforce certain learning objectives? 

There are plenty of chances to use real life examples to solidify what you have taught them verbally. 

Did you provide the student with correct information? 

You should always provide the student with correct information. 

Did you provide feedback and praise at the right times during the lesson? 

Give the pupil the correct feedback at the appropriate time. Provide praise when they do the right thing and encourage them to question why they made certain mistakes. 

Did you listen to the student and provide answers to the questions they needed answers to? 

It is your responsibility to answer questions at the appropriate time. Provide the student with a comprehensive, well thought out answers to help the student to fully understand anything he/she is having problems with. 

Did you treat the student well during the lesson ?  

The way you treat your pupil is crucial, you can actually score 3 points for treating the pupil well. 

Did you encourage self-reflection at the end of the lesson? 

When the lesson is over you should sit with the student to briefly analyse the lesson. Ask them how they felt about the lesson, and encourage them to reflect on what went well and how they could improve. 

Total marks for this part of the test = 24 

To score 100% you need to get 51 points in total. However, if you get 43 or more,  you will pass with an A grade. 31-42 you will get a B, less than 31 will be deemed a fail. 

Note: You can also take advantage of the opportunity to use to a trainee licence to prepare for the exam. Here you will get to teach real learner drivers and get paid to do so. 

How Long Does Training Take?


It will take most people at least six months to complete their ADI qualification to become a fully qualified driving instructor. Nonetheless, before you can sit the ADI tests you need to have held a full, clean driving licence for three or more years.

See here for a more complete answer on our article “how long does it take to become a driving instructor?

How Much Money Can You Make?

As a fully qualified driving instructor, you can earn approximately £50k per year, depending upon how many hours you work.

What Are The Pros & Cons?

Pros of Becoming a Driving Instructor

There are many advantages to becoming a driving instructor, here are just a few of them:

  • Be your own boss
  • Set your own hours
  • Meet new people
  • Provide a valuable service
  • See new places
  • Part time or full time hours
  • Job satisfaction

Cons of Becoming a Driving Instructor

The pros by far outweigh the cons

  • Being self-employed means you have to take care of your own taxes (some people might not like this)
  • You may have to work the occasional early evening

Once I Qualify As An ADI Should I Work For Myself or With A Franchise?

Being a self-employed driving instructor is highly rewarding, however, without the backing of an established brand like Quails School of Motoring it can be challenging.

Here are some of the challenges you might face working for yourself:

  • Difficulty attracting clients
  • Being forced to charge low rates to attract customers
  • Learning everything about running a driving instruction business on your own without the backing of a highly experienced franchise

It is possible to have a successful driving instructor career without the backing of a franchise however, working with a Franchise like ours makes things a whole lot easier.


Being a driving instructor is rewarding, challenging and exciting. You must have patience, an entrepreneurial spirit, compassion and you must also be willing to work hard to become the best driving instructor you can possibly be. You need to be dedicated to studying for the ADI driving instructor tests which include both theory and practical assessments.

You can make a decent living as a driving instructor as long as you are willing to put in the work and dedicate yourself to the job. Once you are fully qualified, you can either choose to work for yourself or for an established franchise like Quails School of Motoring. Either way, being a driving instructor offers excellent job satisfaction, flexibility, good pay and you get to meet new people and escape the usual 9 to 5 way of working.


People Also Ask:

Can I become a driving instructor with a criminal record?

You can become a driving instructor with a criminal record but the DVSA will carry out a risk assessment before they give you approval. There are certain steps that you need to take if you have a criminal record.

  • Disclose your criminal record by providing your enhanced Disclosure and Barring service certificate when you apply to become an ADI

The DVSA will take certain factors into consideration:

  • Whether the caution or conviction you received is relevant
  • The severity of the offence
  • Was it your first offence?
  • What steps have you taken to change your life since the conviction?

Your application will probably be declined if your offences include the following motoring offences:

  • You have been disqualified from driving within the last 4 years
  • Found guilty of a DUI(driving under the influence of drink or drugs within the last 4 years)
  • You have been issued with a single fixed penalty notice where 5 or more penalty points have been maintained
  • Your licence has more than 6 penalty points within the last 3 years

What qualifications do I need?

You need to hold full clean driving licence for three years before you can take the ADI official exams. Once you have taken and passed your ADI exams, you will be qualified to teach.

How often are instructors assessed?

Driving instructors have to take at least one ADI standards check during each 4-year period that they are registered as an ADI. You can get struck off the ADI register if you do not book or attend your ADI standards check.

Quail’s School of Motoring based in Wirral have been delivering the very best high quality MANUAL and AUTOMATIC driving lessons in Chester, Ellesmere Port, Wirral, Wrexham, Flintshire, North Wales and Liverpool. since 1988.
Quails School of Motoring
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