How much does a driving instructor earn?
There is no fixed salary, you aren’t employed and you don’t get paid a wage. 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 the mythical £40,000+ a year as many driving schools claim you can. We’ll also look at some of the many tricks used by people selling ADI training courses.
This page was updated on January 5th 2023 to reflect recent economic changes.
Big changes are planned for the driving test in 2024 that will affect all learners and instructors. Read the details here.
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 do often make 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 and understand social media, websites, 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, no matter what anybody tells you!
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.
Example of earnings for a top instructor
This is for an instructor as I mentioned above 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 £525 a month = £6,300 a year
Fuel = £3,000 a year (can vary a lot depending on your location)
Insurance = £700 (can vary a lot depending on your car, location etc.)
Total expenses = £10,000
Total (income minus expenses)
£59,120 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 by reducing your expenses if you buy a car instead of renting it. Watch the detailed video below which discusses the benefits of leasing or buying a car along with other important points to consider when becoming a private driving instructor.
You will want to keep reading this page for the full story of what you can earn as a driving instructor though…
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 do 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.
During 2020, many driving instructors had to pay £150+ a week despite not being allowed to work. Some people say what happened in 2020 will never happen again. If it happened once it can happen again.
See my page on the truth about being a driving instructor for more about franchises.
Did you spot the problem with the figures I gave above where the instructor earned around £60,000?
Most people won’t have and this is exactly how ADI training providers trick you. Let me explain.
That was for a contract with an agreed mileage of 20,000 a year. There is no way you’re going to be doing under 20,000 miles a year on a 36-hour week unless you’re one of those instructors whose car sits still for 90% of the lesson doing more talking than driving!
This is how people get tricked. Many companies lie and hide things while making it all look very open and honest.
The car would cost you around £75 a month more with a higher mileage allowance. That’s around £900 a year more out of your income. If you exceed your mileage allowance then you’ll be charged around 13p per mile which means £13 for every 100 miles you do or £130 for every thousand miles. That’s far more than if you started on a higher mileage tariff and you can’t change your allowance mid-contract.
Even with a higher mileage contract, you’d still earn good money but it’s these little things that chip away at what you earn.
There are many more catches such as being charged for scratches and scuffed alloys when you return the vehicle.
What the average driving instructor earns
The average driving instructor earns around £15,000 to £22,000 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. 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 and it’s not free anyway, they add the cost into all of your other payments.
£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!
But it’s still more than the figures I have above of £15,000 to £22,000 so what’s up?
Here’s the biggest thing of all that training providers don’t tell you:
You won’t consistently work 30 hours a week as a driving instructor.
Let me explain.
Why you’ll struggle to do 30 hours a week
People often mistakenly think that this difficulty in keeping your hours up is because there isn’t enough work or because you can’t fit pupils in around each other due to them all wanting the same times.
While those things are true and play a role, the main reason is:
Being a driving instructor is physically and mentally exhausting!
If you think you know better and are laughing because you used to work in the police, as an air traffic controller or some other stressful job then fine.
I’ve heard those exact things before and had people laugh at me for saying being a driving instructor is exhausting. A few months later they contacted me and said “Wow. You were right.”
What’s so hard about it?
You can’t even begin to understand this until you’ve done the job for a while.
You’ll probably encounter all these things and more:
- Road rage
- Car crashes and near-crashes (think this only happens if you don’t teach properly? See what happens when that theory meets reality!)
- Abdominal pains from stress and anxiety
- A sore throat from so much talking
- Trapped nerves from harsh braking (you can help avoid this with a seat belt protector like the blue one I’m wearing in the picture at the top of this page)
- A stiff neck from being thrown around by jerky steering and stalling
- Damage to your car
- Having to drive perfectly all of the time. One mistake like speeding can mean the end of your career.
- Members of the public coming up to you and moaning about the standard of driving these days, why don’t you teach them better etc.
- Cyclists moaning at you through the window about pollution and the environment
- People coming out of their houses to complain you’re practising parking on their car
- Drivers thinking it’s funny to brake check you
- Pedestrians who jump in front of the car thinking it’s funny
You can read more about those things on my page The good and bad of being a driving instructor.
Bear in mind that I am also a professional hypnotherapist and a very calm person in general so if I feel those side effects with those attributes, good luck to anyone else!
If you think I’m joking, you just do it and see.
With these things in mind, you’re unlikely to work more than 24 hours a week which takes the income from the example above down to around £21,000 allowing a bit less for fuel due to working fewer hours.
DVSA figures to support this
An official DVSA survey in 2023 showed that over 62% of instructors work at least 25 hours a week.
Another finding was that over 59% suffered musculoskeletal problems which goes along with what I say above about illnesses and injuries.
Bear in mind that out of 40,000+ instructors, only 5,795 bothered to complete the survey. That statistic tells me more than anything it says in the report.
It’s no good saying 62% of instructors work 25+ hours a week if 90% of instructors were too jaded to even complete the survey. How many hours do you think they’re working?
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.
That’s the truth about what a driving instructor earns
The point of this page is not to put you off becoming a driving instructor, it’s to be honest about what it’s like and give you a reality check.
No job is perfect and whatever you do will have its drawbacks.
Being a driving instructor is brilliant, you can make good money and it can be great working for yourself. Just don’t go into it thinking it’s going to be easy because it isn’t.
See my other page about instructor earnings for an example of what ADI’s earn.