What’s it like being a driving test examiner?
Here is the truth about being a driving test examiner with answers to many common questions, myths and misconceptions.
Being a driving test examiner really isn’t like you think at all. From the stereotype of the old man with a clipboard to the common myth that crossing your hands on the wheel will see you failed on a driving test (it won’t, it’s not even marked), many people get it all wrong.
Using my 20 years of experience as a driving instructor, let’s set the record straight on the truth about being a driving test examiner.
The truth about being a driving test examiner
I’m going to answer the following questions which you can click on to go to the answer:
- How much does a driving test examiner earn?
- How do you become a driving test examiner?
- Are examiners all ex-driving instructors that got promoted?
- Are examiners above driving instructors?
- How many driving tests a day does an examiner do?
- Are all driving test examiners old men with clipboards and a short temper?
- Why don’t you want to be a driving test examiner?
- The advantages of being a driving test examiner
How much does a driving test examiner earn?
A driving test examiner is paid around £26,000 a year.
Senior driving test examiners that do driving instructor tests are paid around £30,000 a year.
Both have the chance of overtime by doing weekend tests or doing extra tests to help with demand.
How do you become a driving test examiner?
You can apply to become a driving test examiner through the gov.uk website.
You must be over 24 years old and have held a full UK or EU driving licence for the last 4 years with no more than 3 penalty points on it. No previous experience such as being a driving instructor is necessary.
You’ll then complete two assessments. The first is an online one that sees if you have the right attitude to do the job. You have only one attempt at this.
The second assessment is a driving test which has a much higher standard than the L test. You’ll need to take lessons from an experienced advanced driving instructor to have any chance of passing. It’s a bit like the ADI part 2 test that driving instructors take.
You’ll be driving on as many kinds of roads as possible, including motorways, and will have to give a running commentary. You will have to answer questions about your drive once you have finished.
Next, if you pass those assessments, you’ll go and watch real driving tests at your local driving test centre to get an idea of how they’re done. You’ll then go through all sorts of training before you can conduct driving tests yourself.
For full details and to apply see the official DVSA guide how to become a driving test examiner.
You can visit my page on How to become a driving instructor to learn more about that.
Are examiners all ex-driving instructors that got promoted?
No, you don’t have to have been a driving instructor at all.
Being an ex-driving instructor isn’t a requirement although many think it should be to give them a more balanced view of how learners drive.
This often surprises people as many think that examiners are all ex-instructors.
Examiners that assess driving instructors by sitting in on lessons have often never been instructors either.
That brings us on nicely to the next point.
Are examiners above driving instructors?
No. It’s a common misconception that examiners are somehow above instructors or that we work for them.
That isn’t true at all.
Driving test examiners conduct driving tests and driving instructors teach people. Neither is above the other and driving instructors don’t work for examiners or the DVSA. You may be surprised to learn that driving instructors don’t even work for the driving school they teach at! Learn more about that on my Driving school secrets page.
The DVSA issues driving instructors with a licence to teach but the examiners that monitor instructors are not the same ones that just do L tests. Even then, they’re not above instructors. They’re just there to make sure we keep our standards up and vice versa because instructors can report an examiner who is falling below standard.
How many driving tests a day does an examiner do?
Driving test examiners do up to 7 tests each per day.
This changed during the pandemic of 2020 when they did up to 5 tests per day to reduce the time they spent in the car.
Driving tests start from 0703 to 1537 with some starting at 1630 in the summer. You can learn more about this on my page Why are driving tests at such odd times?
Are all driving test examiners old men with clipboards and a short temper?
No, and If you have the stereotypical image of an old man with a clipboard in your head then change it now!
Women do the job as well. The role of a driving test examiner is open to anyone who meets the requirements regardless of gender, sexual orientation, race or anything else that is irrelevant to their ability to do the job.
Do not make the mistake of thinking that female driving test examiners are a pushover! I have known many people surprised they have failed and say that they thought she was really nice and would just pass them.
There are examiners with disabilities and from all ethnicities and backgrounds. The job is open to anyone that is suitable.
They’re not all old people either. Some examiners are in their 20’s and they don’t have a clipboard at all, they use tablets to mark people now. You may be quite shocked when you meet your examiner because they really aren’t like they’re often made out to be.
Most driving test examiners are really nice people and they have to pass a test during their training to make sure they will get on with people. Sure, there are always some that are going to slip through the net and I have known some that are very short-tempered with a bad attitude but they are rare.
You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how normal your examiner is when you meet them!
Why don’t you want to be a driving test examiner?
People ask me this all the time. While I have the utmost respect for driving test examiners, it’s not a job I would want to do myself.
Why would I want to give up my own business to go and work for the government?
We have said examiners earn around £26,000 a year. A good driving instructor can earn far more than that, even after paying expenses. Read more on my page how much does a driving instructor earn?
I work when I choose to. Why would I give all that up to go and work as an examiner, working when and where I’m told to?
I like meeting people and getting to know them over the course of their lessons. I wouldn’t like sitting in silence other than saying turn left and right. Meeting 7 different people a day without getting to know them for more than 40 minutes isn’t for me.
I love the cut and thrust of running a business. There are ups and downs but that’s what I love about it.
There is nothing wrong with being a driving test examiner but it’s not for me.
The advantages of being a driving test examiner
There are some points that you could consider an advantage. It’s all down to your opinion but here are some common ones:
- They get sick pay while instructors don’t
- They get a pension while instructors don’t
- Their work is all arranged for them so they don’t have to run a business, advertise etc.
- They don’t have pupils driving their own car as instructors do
- They get around 5 weeks of paid leave per year while instructors get none
- The security of an employed government job
There are some plus points. The thing is, the points above can apply to a driving instructor that knows what they’re doing. You can arrange a private pension and budget for holidays and sick pay. The fact you’re earning far more makes up for not having those things.
That all relies on you being a good instructor though. Not just another run-of-the-mill instructor working at a driving school.