Why are driving lessons so expensive?
After reading this page you’ll understand why driving lessons cost what they do and how driving instructors are not the rich people that some think they are.
Why are driving lessons so expensive?
We need to get that out of the way otherwise we’re thinking about this the wrong way.
It may seem that someone charging £30 an hour is earning a lot but they’re really not.
Too many people base this idea of a high income on false assumptions like driving instructors working 40 hours a week or keeping every penny of what they earn.
It isn’t a case of £30 x 40 hours a week x 48 weeks = £57,600 a year.
How many hours does a driving instructor work?
A driving instructor would never regularly work 40 hours a week. Think about it, even if they did driving lessons at 0900-1100, 1200-1400 and 1500-1700 that’s only six hours of work in a day. Even if they do that six days a week that’s still only 36 hours.
You can’t just start one lesson as you finish another. You need a break, you need to travel from one person to another, and not everyone is just going to be available at times to fit in with each other.
Instructors that do work 40+ hours a week can be exhausted and teach badly due to fatigue. I was in that position myself once when I worked at a driving school and I ended up in hospital unable to breathe.
Driving instructors lose a huge amount of their income just from running their cars and we’ll look more at that later.
Let’s compare what a driving instructor charges compared to other jobs:
- Calling a plumber to fix a leak will be at least £60 for under an hour’s work.
- An odd-job person will charge £50+ an hour to paint something and move a TV aerial.
- A solicitor can charge you £200 for writing a letter
After looking at those things you can see that £30 an hour really isn’t much at all.
You need to look at the bigger picture
You’re not just paying for driving lessons, you’re missing the point if you look at it like that.
Learning to drive opens up your whole life by allowing you to:
- Get a better-paying job
- Travel anywhere you want at any time
- Not rely on public transport
Those are just 3 things but there are many more.
I’ve had pupils that have needed a driving licence to get a job paying £50,000 a year. I’m giving that person the ability to earn £50,000 every year so even if I charged £10,000 for the course it’d still be a bargain!
What benefits will driving bring to your life?
The cost of running a driving school
When you ask “Why are driving lessons so expensive?” you need to think about the reasons for the prices being what they are.
When a pupil pays £30 for a lesson the instructor has already lost a good chunk of that through costs.
The figures below are what I actually spent in 2019. I have been doing this job for 20 years so I have a lot of accounts and experience to look back on.
These figures come from dividing the number of hours I worked by what I spent on each thing. I’ve only rounded up insurance because it came to 94p an hour. All the other figures are spot on.
My expenses for driving lessons in 2019 were:
- Fuel – £2 an hour
- Car – £4 an hour
- Insurance – £1 an hour
How much a driving instructor gets to keep
After just those 3 things you can see that an income of £30 an hour has already gone down to £23 an hour.
A driving instructor in London would earn £30 an hour quite easily, often much more, but for someone working in northern England, £30 an hour could be considered a high rate.
Remember as well that many driving schools and instructors give student discounts, block booking discounts and other such deals so they hardly ever earn the headline rate of £30 an hour.
Update in July 2023
£30 an hour used to be a high rate and now with the cost of living crisis, even the cheapest schools are charging it!
What I say still applies though. You may think an instructor charging £40 an hour is earning a lot but they’re not if their mortgage has gone up hundreds of pounds a month along with their fuel bill, insurance and everything else.
Introductory driving lesson offers
What about driving school introductory offers like 10 lessons for £100?
Driving instructors that do those are only earning £10 an hour which goes down to £3 an hour after expenses.
And those aren’t even all the expenses.
That’s one of the big problems and many people don’t realise the following point…
Many driving instructors earn less than the minimum wage
If you’ve ever thought it was clever to go from one school to another taking all the “10 lessons for £100!” offers then please think about the effect that has on driving instructors, and the effect it has on you!
Instructors working for £3 an hour have no incentive to teach properly at all. Why would they bother when they’re not earning much? They don’t, resulting in poor tuition and pupils that hop from one school to another just to get a constant supply of cheap and useless lessons.
Why did those driving lesson intro offers begin? Because driving schools make money from charging each instructor a weekly fee to be supplied with work.
Their aim is to take on as many instructors as they can (qualified or not) and make tons of cash. The problem is that then they need a huge supply of pupils to feed to all the instructors. How do they get all these pupils? By doing offers like 10 lessons for £100.
It’s a lose-lose situation where you learn nothing and they earn nothing.
No wonder driving test pass rates are so low.
But I thought a driving instructor earns 40k a year?
That’s what they earn, not what they keep.
I’ve written a whole page about how much does a driving instructor earn?
The whole “Earn 40k as a driving instructor!” thing is often just marketing from schools to sell instructor training courses. Those new instructors then need more pupils and the schools are all battling for work so they come out with more stupid offers like 20 lessons for £100.
Many instructors at driving schools struggle to make more than £10,000 a year.
How do I know? Because I was one of them and have the accounts to prove it and because I get emails every week from instructors saying they’re in that position.
I’m one of the UK’s top driving instructor trainers so I get to meet instructors from many different schools.
The self-employed get no holiday or sick pay
All driving instructors in the UK are self-employed. Even instructors at driving schools are actually just hiring a car and being supplied with work, they don’t really work for the school at all. Learn more about how driving schools work.
You get no holiday or sick pay when you’re self-employed. If you stop working you stop earning so you have to factor that in when deciding what to charge people.
Many driving instructors don’t budget for this and do themselves an injustice!
If a driving instructor gets ill and can’t work then their income stops overnight. If they want a holiday then they have to not only save for the holiday but they also have to save the amount they’ll lose by not working.
In other words, you have to budget holidays and sickness into what you charge people.
Why are driving lessons so expensive summary
Here are the main points covered on this page:
- Driving lessons are not expensive compared to other things
- Instructors can’t work more than around 24 to 30 hours a week
- Instructors lose lots of what they charge in fuel and car costs
- Driving instructors have to cover holidays, taxes and other costs in their fee
I hope you’ve found this page entertaining and educational.
To find out more answers to questions like this check out the Why? section in my menu under Help>Why?
You will enjoy reading pages such as:
- Why do driving instructors shout?
- Why do driving instructors drive you home after a test?
- why are driving tests at such odd times?
Or if you’ve had enough reading check out my YouTube channel.