The good and bad of being a driving instructor
Here’s my honest opinion on the good and bad points based upon over 13 years of working as an instructor.
You might also want to click here to read my page on funny driving lesson stories because if you become an instructor these things could well happen to you!
The good things
- You’re the boss. You can take time off whenever you want and only have to work when you choose to. Do you want to work days, evenings or weekends? Whatever you want there are pupils to fit in with those times.
- You run your own business. It’s a great feeling to be self sufficient and know that you have your own company.
- The money can be great. You’ll be earning around £18 per hour to start and can earn up to £40 per hour when you become popular and skilled at your work.
- You’ll never have to work more than 4 hours a day. My average working day is 930am -1130am then 1pm to 3pm. Doing that can earn you £20,000 per year after expenses and before tax..
- There are lots of things to go into after becoming an ADI such as growing your own school, becoming an ADI trainer, starting up websites to help learners, advanced training, fleet training (visiting companies and training company drivers to be safer etc.). It’s far from a dead end job.
- You’ll always have the latest cars. You can change your car every 6 to 24 months so you’ll always have the latest model, shape and colour. All repairs, servicing etc. are included in a one-off monthly fee that is far less than you’d normally pay. You don’t even need to visit a garage – I just send one email to a company I’ve dealt with for years and I can have any car I want delivered to my door within weeks.
- You get to meet lots of people that will always remember you for the rest of their lives. They may forget your name and some of the things that you teach them but everyone remembers their driving instructor and taking their driving test. It’s nice to be part of peoples memories.
- You can save peoples lives. By giving good driving tuition you may well save somebody’s life one day without knowing it.
- It’s easy to find your car in a car park with the roof sign on
The bad things
- You are going to be involved in car crashes. If you spend every day in a car with people who can’t drive then it’s a case of when it will happen, not if it will happen. There is nothing you can do to prevent it, like the four times I have been sitting in a parked car chatting to a pupil and someone drove straight into us! The most common kind of accident you’ll have with a learner is when people drive into the back of you because they don’t expect harsh braking or stalling. That’s their fault and you can’t always prevent it, no matter how you teach.
- You’ll need to deal with emotional people. After failing a test you may get pupils crying, making threats, demanding money back etc.
- You will get vile pupils now and then. I have had people who’s attitude is so bad you wouldn’t believe me if I told you the things they have said. You’ll meet people who think they know it all, even though they have never driven before. Some pupils are abusive, stink of sweaty body odour and will deliberately smash your car up and think it’s funny. They are quite rare but they are out there and you will get them.
- You’re forever walking a tightrope when you drive a car. One mistake such as speeding and you could lose your entire business. You are usually allowed 3 points on your licence as an instructor or examiner but you need to be very careful whenever you drive anywhere. One mistake and that’s your business gone.
- Your income is never guaranteed. You might have months where you earn £2500 and months where you earn £500. The bad winter of 2010 put a lot of instructors out of business.
- There is LOTS of competition. From 2000 to 2010 the number of registered driving instructors has doubled. In Birmingham there were 1903 instructors in June 2011 and that’s not including all the trainee instructors. You’re going to have to be very good to stand out or join a driving school that is already well established.
- It’s very stressful. You’re going to be dealing with road rage and idiots on the road every day. Hardly a week goes by when someone won’t blast the horn at you for stalling or shout at you out of the window.
- You get no holiday pay or sick pay. If you take time off you will get nothing in return so you must save for when you are ill or want a break. It’s not unusual for instructors to go 10 years without a holiday because they simply can’t afford to take time off.
- You need to be multi-skilled. Not only do you need to be a driving instructor but you’ll have to learn how to build and run websites, advertise, keep financial accounts, meet legal requirements and many other things that you’ll never think about until you do the job.
- Driving instructors suffer from a variety of work related illnesses. Common problems are a bad back from sitting in a small car all day, IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) caused by stress and not having access to a toilet, headaches, tension headaches (it feels like you’re wearing a hat that’s much too small and can last for several weeks), whiplash, trapped nerves from emergency stops and sore throats/colds caused by talking so much and working with so many people in the perfect breeding ground for germs – a car.
- You can’t really ever drink alcohol as an instructor. You may be aware that even after 12 hours you can still be over the legal drink drive limit so you just can’t drink. Pupils and examiners won’t think much of an instructor who turns up stinking of beer!
- Being an instructor can be lonely. Other than pupils, you are always working alone and rarely get to mix with anyone.
You are going to be meeting many different types of people during your career as a driving instructor. I’ve taught all sorts including the “normal” types such as students, nurses, doctors and actors to the slightly more unusual such as professional poker players, escorts, lap dancers and drug dealers. Sometimes you really wish you hadn’t asked what they do for a living!
There’s a law saying that only driving instructors can teach people to drive for money. That means pretty much everyone has to go through driving schools. You may even have phone calls from celebrities or you could turn up for a lesson to find out that you’re teaching someone off the TV who wanted to remain anonymous before you met them.
You’ll need to be happy, outgoing, personable and able to mix with anyone. Some people will have opinions and attitudes you don’t agree with. Some won’t speak much English or may be from other countries.
Being a driving instructor isn’t for everyone but it’s the best job in the world for me. Yes there are bad things but the good things far outweigh those and there’s nothing else I’d rather do.