How much does a driving instructor earn

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 that many driving schools claim you can. We’ll also look at some of the many tricks used by people selling ADI training courses.

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?

How a driving instructor can earn £40k or more

The catch to earning 40k

The truth about earning good money as a driving instructor

Franchises

Car costs

What the average driving instructor earns

A funny way to tell that driving instructors don’t earn much

Conclusion

Can a driving instructor earn 40k?

That’s the most common question I get asked daily 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 who 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.

Here is what that instructor’s income could look like.

Income

£40 x 36 hours = £1,440

£1440 x 48 weeks of the year (4 weeks holiday per year) = £69,120

Expenses

Ford Puma Titanium at £718 a month = £8,616 a year

Fuel = £3,000 a year (can vary a lot depending on your location)

Insurance = £1,380 a year (From the car hire company, it can be less or more independently)

Total expenses = £12,996

Total (income minus expenses)

£56,124 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 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 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 work 6 or 7 days a week from morning until evening. You’ll need to make videos, do social media, update your website and more.

There is no point in earning decent money if you’re killing yourself to do it.

In the example above I said 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.

Franchises

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.

Franchises cost over £300 a week in the early 2000s and during 2020, many driving instructors had to pay £150+ a week despite not being allowed to work.

Having a franchise can be a massive drawback.

See my page on the truth about being a driving instructor for more about franchises.

Car costs

Did you spot the problem with the figures I gave above where the instructor earned around £56,000?

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 same car costs £70 a month more with a higher mileage allowance. That’s £840 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

Many driving instructors earn £15,000 to £20,000 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.

Driving instructors often earn less than minimum wage which is legal because the minimum wage doesn’t apply to the self-employed.

I’ve met many driving instructors who struggle to make £8,000 a year working 24 hours a week every week of the year. That’s around £6.40 an hour.

This doesn’t mean you will earn that because as I’ve said several times on this page, 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.

A funny way to tell that driving instructors don’t earn much

I want to share one funny thing about being a driving instructor.

Whenever anyone asks you what you do for a living and you say you’re a driving instructor, I can guarantee that at least 70% of people will say something like

“My friend does that, and my barber is training.”

It always makes me laugh how many people are, or were, driving instructors!

My most extreme example is from when I ran a paranormal investigation company (yes, really). We used to stay overnight in allegedly haunted locations and for one event we hired a medium. We got chatting in the hotel bar before the night began and guess what he had once trained to be? Yes, a driving instructor!

How do you think you’re going to earn good money from a job that is so common?

The simple rules of supply and demand mean the more of something there is, the less it’s worth.

The driving instructor market is more saturated than the Atlantic Ocean. It’s a mature market; it’s been around for ages and everything that can be done with it has been done.

If the market is oversaturated even with so many driving instructors leaving the industry and failing their ADI part 3 exam, think how many people are training!

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 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.

Income

£30 x 30 hours = £900

£900 x 48 weeks of the year = £43,200

Expenses

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 £20,000 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 won’t understand until you’ve done the job for a while.

You’ll likely encounter all these things and more:

  • Road rage (every hour of every day)
  • Car crashes and near-crashes (think this only happens if you don’t teach properly? See what happens when that theory meets reality!)
  • Stress and anxiety
  • A sore throat from so much
  • Abdominal cramps and pains from sitting all day
  • Trapped nerves from harsh braking
  • Having to drive perfectly all of the time. One mistake like speeding can mean the end of your career.
  • People coming up to your car and moaning about learners using “their” road

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!

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.

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 ADIs earn.

See my pages on the truth about being a driving instructor. Learn about ADI part 3 or visit my YouTube channel.