How much does a driving instructor earn?
How much does a driving instructor earn? 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.
I’ve been a driving instructor for 20 years and I am 100% independent so I tell it like it is. I am not trying to sell you a franchise or get you to join my school.
I’ll reveal the income that I earned in 2019 to show you what an instructor at the top of their game can make.
For more general information see my page called The truth about being a driving instructor.
You’ll also be interested in learning the answer to the question why are driving lessons so expensive?
What a driving instructor really earns
The average driving instructor earns around £15,000 to £20,000 a year.
I know this from talking to hundreds of instructors over the years, talking to accountants who do the books for instructors and being an instructor in that position myself.
Have you read that you can earn 40k as a driving instructor?
Let me explain why that is true, false and misleading (in my opinion).
Can you earn 40k as a driving instructor?
First of all let me say that this figure of 40k is banded about by many places so I am not referring to any specific school or trainer here.
Let’s start off by showing you how some places work out this figure of 40k.
Then you’ll see why it is highly unlikely, if not impossible, to ever happen in practice.
Where the 40k figure comes from
Imagine that you charge £20 an hour for driving lessons and work the usual 40 hours a week.
£20 x 40 hours = £800 a week.
£800 x 52 weeks of the year = £41,600
Those of you that are self employed or already work as instructors will see many flaws in those figure above.
Let me explain from the start.
The real price of driving lessons
£20 an hour is just an average price.
It may well be that the advertised rate is £25 or more but remember that most schools have deals like the first lesson free or five lessons for £50.
You’ll sometimes be earning more than £20 an hour but you’ll often be earning less, or even working for free.
Giving away these free lessons and cheap deals is the only way schools can drag as many pupils in as they can to feed all their hungry instructors.
How many hours a week?
We said above that you’d work 40 hours a week.
I’ve heard many new instructors saying that their trainer told them they’d work 40 hours a week and said it was just like a normal working week for an office worker.
That’s great but you’re not going to be an office worker.
Let me make this clear:
You are highly unlikely to regularly work 40 hours a week as a driving instructor.
This office worker comparison is just ludicrous.
An office worker is employed by a company. They go to work, sit at a desk for hours and get paid a fixed salary or hourly rate. They get paid their wages each month however busy or quiet the company they work for is.
A driving instructor is self employed. They have business expenses such as a dual controlled car, a franchise, fuel etc. They only get paid if they get work, which is never guaranteed.
What a stupid comparison.
So I won’t work 40 hours a week?
How could you even fit 40 hours a week into your diary?
You’d have to work 9am to 11am, 11am to 1pm, 1pm to 3pm then 3pm to 5pm.
Those are standard office worker hours indeed but have you spotted the problem?
How are you going to end one lesson at 11am and start another at 11am? The pupils won’t all live right next to each other.
What about needing a toilet break? Needing to eat?
Imagine working 8 hours straight through with no break in a car. How will that make you feel?
All of this is of course assuming that you’d have enough work to do 40 hours a week anyway which you won’t because the school will be spreading pupils as thinly as possible across as many instructors as they can take on.
Remember that schools make nothing from pupils, they only earn from instructors. That’s why they throw away cheap lessons; it’s you that loses out not them!
How many pupils will you teach?
Many instructors work at driving schools because it gives them a sense of security.
It’s a big school, they have all the work and you’ll always be busy, right?
I’ve worked at driving schools where I was struggling to get more than 30 hours a week and yet when I went into the office they were still signing up more and more trainees. I remember one time an instructor with no work started arguing with the trainees when he saw all the work being booked onto their diary. He quite rightly asked why they were taking on new instructors when they couldn’t supply work to the ones they had.
A school being bigger could just mean the work is spread more thinly amongst all the instructors.
A driving school makes money from their instructors paying a weekly franchise fee. They’re often more interested in taking on more instructors, not more pupils. I’ve even heard of schools with more instructors than pupils!
There are many reasons why you’re more secure working alone but that’s for another page.
The next massive blow to your income
You have probably noticed how in the above examples I multiplied the weekly income by 52.
Yes, that means you won’t ever have a holiday! You’re working every week of every year for the rest of your life.
Some schools give you one or two franchise free weeks a year but remember that you won’t be earning money during those two weeks.
The biggest catch of all
£40,000 is the amount of money you (might) bring in, not the amount you keep for yourself.
Out of that 40k income you have to pay for:
- Your franchise
- Your car (sometimes this is extra to a franchsie)
- Pupils (some schools charge you per pupil)
- Repairs to damage done to the car (it’s not included in the franchise at many big schools)
- Insurance (it’s not always included in the franchise)
- Advertising (I had a franchise where they told us we were expected to advertise ourselves!)
- Cancellations when pupils refuse to pay and you lose the money
If we take the average driving school franchise costing £150 a week and times that by 50 weeks of the year it comes to £7,500.
At this point people always say they’ve seen a franchise for £50 a week. Yes you have but that doesn’t include a car and sometimes not even pupils. You’re only paying to use their name, not to have work or a car. Add those costs in and it’s at least £150 a week. If you own a car remember you’ll need to be saving for the next or all the maintenance. However you look at it you’ll be paying around £150 a week minimum.
On a 40 hour week your fuel would be around £4000 a year. Fuel of course depends on your car and area but that’s about what it’ll be based on January 2020 fuel prices.
Just those two things alone mean you have to take £11,500 out of your income.
Even if you earnt £40,000 you’d now be down to £28,500.
We haven’t even deducted income tax and national insurance yet either. On an income of £28,500 that would be around £5000.
How to tell they are talking rubbish
Ask them to show you tax returns from several of their instructors that have earned £40,000 a year and see what excuses they come up with.
They’ll probably say that it’s private information, it’s against data protection rules etc.
I would suggest it’s really because they can’t prove it due it not being true.
How much does a top driving instructor earn?
Here are my accounts for the year ending 2019.
Consider that I have all these advantages due to me being popular, experienced and skilled:
- I pay no franchise
- I pay nothing for advertising
- There are no free lessons or discounts
- I get lots of pupils
- I make money from my YouTube videos
With all that I made my highest ever income in 20 years, a total of…
£21,000 after expenses, before tax.
If you work at a school with expenses like a franchise then you’re most likely going to be earning far less than that.
So why would anyone be a driving instructor?
You may wonder why I’m telling you all this because aren’t I spoiling it for myself by putting people off doing ADI training?
No because the figure above of me earning £21,000 was based on me working just 4 hours a day: that’s 930am to 1130 and then 1pm to 3pm Monday to Saturday.
Wouldn’t you like a job where you could work just 4 hours a day like that?
I also have the use of a car, can work when I choose (I work a Saturday instead of evenings) and there are many other perks too like meeting great people all the time.
I could work evenings and be earning another £10,000 a year but even then I’m only on £31,000. Still nowhere near £40,000!
It is a great job but don’t do it if you want to be rich. If you can accept that then you’ll love it like I do.
Just don’t go expecting 40k, OK?