How much does a driving instructor earn?
There is no fixed salary. You aren’t employed and you don’t get paid a wage so how much you earn as a driving instructor is up to you. Keep reading to the end and I’ll explain why you can, and can’t, earn 40k a year.
This page was updated on January 5th 2023 to reflect recent economic changes.
This video looks at how driving instructors fail and watching it can change your life
Use the links below to skip to each part of this page.
Can a driving instructor earn 40k?
That’s the most common question I get asked on a daily basis so here’s the honest answer:
Yes, you can but most won’t and those that will often up making themselves ill doing it.
Driving instructors that earn good money are more than just good instructors. They’re good at marketing, have great people skills, understand the internet, psychology and many other things.
If you understand that then you’ll do well. If not you’ll be yet another frustrated instructor, angry that they are making no money.
Don’t expect to train as an instructor in a few weeks and immediately earn £40,000 a year. Schools will of course tell you this to sell you a course.
This video looks at a common question asked by would-be driving instructors
How a driving instructor can earn £40,000 or more
Imagine a driving instructor that has spent years in the job, knows it inside out and has a well-established business with a proven reputation.
They’re charging £40 an hour with no discounts or intro offers. They pay nothing for advertising because they are so well-known.
This instructor works 36 hours a week which consists of doing lessons at 0900-1100, 1200-1400 and 1500 to 1700 Monday to Friday and 0900-1100 and 1300-1500 on Saturday.
I worked 6 days a week as a driving instructor for 20 years and doing 6 hours a day with at least an hour between lessons is similar to any job. People are available at those times for lessons; I haven’t worked evenings for 10 years and mornings and afternoons are always popular times with students and part-time workers.
Example of earnings for a top instructor
This is for an instructor that really knows their stuff, pays no advertising and rents a car which is fully maintained. That means all the servicing, repairs and parts are included.
£40 x 36 hours = £1,440
£1440 x 48 weeks of the year (4 weeks holiday per year) = £69,120
Ford Puma Titanium at £505 a month = £6,060 a year
Fuel = £3,000
Insurance = £800 (this can vary a lot)
Total expenses = £9,860
Total (income minus expenses)
£59,260 before tax and national insurance
You can see how £40,000 is a conservative estimate of what you can earn!
Yes, you still have to pay income tax and national insurance but that’s the same for any job.
You can even earn more if you buy the car instead of renting it. You’ll still have to put some money aside for maintenance though.
There are no tricks here. I’m not hiding any costs or exaggerating prices. Those figures are all perfectly achievable and realistic.
You might want to keep reading though for the full story…
Do you have what it takes to meet the standard required to be a driving instructor?
So can you earn £40,000?
It is possible BUT you need to remember that this example is for an instructor at the top of their game. Not everyone will earn that, especially new instructors or those that just aren’t as good.
You also have to do a lot of hours. If you think 36 hours a week isn’t a lot then just wait until you try doing it as a driving instructor!
This income could be dented by the odd pupil cancelling or illness but that isn’t going to happen very often. Many self-employed people would have another income stream to cover those things, such as renting out a house or having other instructors pay to use their franchise.
Can you imagine yourself as such an instructor?
The catch to earning 40k
There is one colossal problem to earning a good income as a driving instructor: you’ll be working around the clock and exhausting yourself to do it.
It’s easy to boast about how much you can earn without revealing exactly how you’re doing it. Many will have you believe that they’re only working 3 or 4 hours a day and spending the rest of their time sailing on their private yacht. It isn’t like that!
To earn 40k as a driving instructor you’ll need to be working 6 or 7 days a week from morning until evening. You’ll need to be making videos, doing social media, updating your website and many other things.
There is no point in earning decent money if you’re killing yourself to do it.
In the example above I say I regularly worked 36 hours a week as a driving instructor. What I didn’t say is that I suffered multiple illnesses doing that. On one occasion I ended up in a hospital unable to breathe, on another I had a tension headache that lasted for over 10 days and I’ve even had to have an operation due to a problem caused by teaching people to drive.
I’m not medically qualified and I’m not saying this will happen to you.
The reason I’m telling you this is that many places will tell you the good things about being an instructor but ̶h̶i̶d̶e̶ forget some of the bad things.
The truth about earning good money as a driving instructor
36 hours is just the time you spend doing lessons. What about the time spent travelling to and from lessons? Even if that was just 15 minutes each way for each lesson, that’s 9 hours of travelling.
18 lessons, each 2 hours long, with 30 minutes travelling for each lesson is 30 minutes x 18 lessons =540 minutes or 9 hours.
Add on the time spent on videos, social media etc. and you’re well over 50 hours a week.
There is no point earning 40k if you’re having to work a 50-hour week to get it.
Earning £40 an hour might sound good compared to minimum wage jobs but remember that example was for a top-class driving instructor who is doing everything really well.
The average driving instructor will often earn far less to start with and after deducting your expenses you’ll lose at least £7 an hour.
Depending on where you are in the country, many driving instructors will earn nothing close to £40 an hour. It’s often as low as £15 to £20 an hour after you take into account discounts and introductory offers.
Many people get tricked into thinking they’ll earn more on a franchise.
If a driving school charges £45 an hour then it can look as though you’ll earn lots. That isn’t how it works.
You’ll lose a lot through intro offers, special deals, block booking discounts and other similar things.
The huge drawback to being a franchise is that you’re not free to do what you want. The very things that allow top instructors to earn money are inaccessible to you.
Take making videos for example. Some schools have strict rules about their instructors putting videos online and they will want to view the video first. If it isn’t generic and safe in every way then you won’t be allowed to publish it.
You’re not going to get anywhere like that because you’ll just blend in and be yet another instructor lost in the sea of thousands of others.
The franchise can also be a huge weight around your neck as well. It can cost hundreds of pounds a week and you end up working for hours just to pay that off before you even make anything for yourself.
See my page on the truth about being a driving instructor for more about franchises.
What the average driving instructor earns
The average driving instructor earns around £20,000 to £30,000 a year after paying expenses but before paying tax and national insurance.
I know this from talking to hundreds of instructors over the years, talking to accountants who do the books for instructors and having been in that position myself.
This doesn’t mean you will earn that because as we’ve already said several times, it’s up to you. If you want more you can get it but for people who insist on having a figure then that’s what most instructors get.
It also depends massively on where you live as prices for driving lessons vary from £15 to £50 an hour around the UK. Another big factor is how much you’re spending on fuel based on being in a city or a more rural area.
Example of earnings for an average instructor
Let’s do the figures as we did above but for an average instructor. They work on a franchise which includes a supply of pupils and an insured car with all maintenance included.
They charge £30 an hour on average (taking into account introductory offers and block booking deals) and get enough work to do 30 hours a week. Bear in mind that driving schools will spread the work as thinly as they can across as many instructors as possible so they make more from them each paying a franchise. This results in less work for each instructor.
You’ll also be lucky to get 4 weeks of franchise free a year. It’s often only one or two weeks which you’ll have to pay even though you’re not earning that week.
£30 x 30 hours = £900
£900 x 48 weeks of the year = £43,200
50 weekly franchise paments of £200 = £10,000
Fuel = £3,000
Total expenses = £13,750
Total (income minus expenses)
£29,450 before tax and national insurance
You can see how this is far less than the figures above!
See my other page about instructor earnings for an example of what ADI’s earn.
This video from 2018 looks at how much a driving instructor could earn. It’s a little out of date but still has some good points in it.
The truth about what a driving instructor earns
So can you earn 40k as a driving instructor?
Yes and even more but most won’t. Will you?