How Much Does It Cost To Become A Driving Instructor: Training, Tests, Licence Registration and Business Setup

A driving instructor is somebody with a licence to charge for driving lessons. It is illegal in Great Britain to charge for driving lessons without an instructor licence. Licenced individuals are officially described as Approved Driving Instructors (ADI) when fully qualified, or Potential Driving Instructors (PDI).

An aspiring ADI must undertake an average of six to twelve months of training, during which they study for and pass three tests.

The total cost incurred by a driving instructor while qualifying as an ADI can be divided into 3 main parts: training, examinations and licences. These are expanded upon in the table below.

ItemCost
Training, including books and resources£1,147 to £2,147
ADI Part One Test*£81
ADI Part Two Test*£111
Trainee Instructor Licence£140
ADI Part Three Test*£111
Four-year, ADI Badge£300
TOTAL£1,890 to £2,890

*This cost is the fee for one attempt at passing the test. If a candidate fails a test then the same fee is payable for each retake.

  • Intense driving instructor training courses do not come with a pre-booked exam straight afterwards. Maintaining skills until the exam will require many further lessons and practice. The intensive course is likely to be a poor choice if the examination is 2-3 months after the training. Surepass do not offer intensive “crash-course” instructor training for this reason.
  • The cheapest courses provide some or most of the training in a classroom through virtual reality. There is no evidence that this type of training is as effective as physically driving a car.
  • Training with an ORDIT instructor ensures the highest quality of training and will give the greatest chance of passing.

Other factors that affect the price of training include guarantees, exam fees and additional free training if the candidate fails an exam. Each option hsa a corresponding higher value and therefore comes at a higher price. There will also be regional variations across the country.

It is possible to reduce overall cost of qualifying as a driving instructor through two specific methods:

  1. When a trainee opts for a 6-month, trainee driving instructor licence, they are permitted to earn money while giving driving lessons as a Potential Driving Instructor (PDI). Through training sufficient pupils, the lesson fees offset the costs of training and qualifying as an ADI.
  2. Surepass will reimburse 100% of training fees when a trainee joins Surepass after qualifying.

What are the Driving Instructor Training Fees?

Training to become a driving instructor involves:

  • Studying written material relevant to the tests
  • Practising alone in the trainee’s own vehicle
  • Learning with a driving instructor trainer

How Much Do the Different Kinds of Driving Instructor Training Cost?

Officially, there is no additional qualification required for a driving instructor trainer. Anyone holding ADI status is able to teach a trainee.

There are, however, several different ways in which that training is delivered:

  • Virtual 
  • Group 
  • 1 on 1 
  • ORDIT training

Virtual training refers to training delivered not in a real vehicle but online or with the assistance of other virtual tools. 

A fully online course for the ADI qualification process over twelve months costs around £2,000. 

Group training means that any practical driving session is conducted with several trainees in the vehicle, only one of whom drives the vehicle for the lesson. While group training is available for as little as £800, only one is receiving instruction at any time. 

While there is no published information about pass rates from either virtual online training or group training, anecdotal evidence suggests a higher failure rate where the lessons are not 1-on-1 in a real car.

1-on-1 training, on the other hand, means that all of the practical driving instruction is conducted with one trainee at the wheel, with no other trainees in the vehicle.

1-on-1 training is typically the most expensive, costing upwards of £2,890 for premium packages. Surepass 1-on-1 training with an ORDIT registered instructor starts from £1,890.

What is ORDIT Training and How Much Does it Cost?

Finally, there is the question of whether a trainer is an ORDIT trainer. 

ORDIT stands for the voluntary Official Register of Driving Instructor Training. ORDIT trainers must undergo an additional qualification process in order to be admitted to the register.

Because an ORDIT trainer has been specifically assessed on their ability to teach other driving instructors, they are likely to be of a higher standard than a non-ORDIT trainer. A candidate therefore increases their chances of gaining ADI approval by hiring an ORDIT trainer.

If a trainee chooses to learn through a reputable driving school with well-defined training courses, such as Surepass, then all training is delivered by ORDIT trainers. 

Non-ORDIT training tends to be offered on an informal basis through personal relationships to an ordinary driving instructor without ORDIT listing. While the cost of training may be less per lesson, the chances of passing the course will be far lower.

How much do the Approved Driving Instructor Tests Cost?

How Much Does the ADI Part 1 Test Cost?

ADI Part One is the theory element of the approval process to become an ADI, consisting of two parts:

  • 90-minute examination with 100 multiple-choice questions.
  • Hazard perception test.

The cost of the test itself is £81 for each attempt (first or retake).

However, a candidate also needs to study materials. These are The Highway Code, the Know Your Traffic Signs guide, The Official DVSA Guide to Driving and The Driving Instructor’s Handbook. 

Candidates will also need to use The Official DVSA Theory Test and Hazard Perception Kit for Approved Driving Instructors. This is an eLearning tool which is accessible for a subscription fee:

  • 30 Days: £15
  • 60 Days: £20
  • 365 Days: £30

These are provided by Surepass as part of instructor training. They can also be obtained from government organisations.

According to the DVSA, the latest pass rate for ADI Part One is 38.1%. The GCSE overall pass rate (a score of 4 or better) in 2023 is 70.3%. This demonstrates how tough the driving instructor training is in comparison to school qualifications. It is important to get quality training to pass first time.

How Much Does The ADI Part 2 Test Cost?

ADI Part Two is the practical element of the approval process to become an ADI, assessing a candidate on their driving skills. Much like a driving test, the test is conducted in a vehicle of the candidate’s choosing, accompanied by an assessor.

The test costs £111 for each attempt (first or retake), with an additional premium for tests taken out of office hours.

Everything a candidate needs to know in order to pass the test is found in the National Standard for Driving Cars and Light Vans, which is downloadable for free online. 

However, a candidate also needs practical training in a vehicle, with an instructor.

At 55.6%, the pass rate for ADI Part Two is the highest for all of the ADI tests. This again demonstrates the value of quality training to have the greatest chance of passing at first attempt.

How Much Does The ADI Part 3 Test Cost?

ADI Part Three tests a trainee instructor’s ability to teach learner drivers to drive. It is the final test a trainee must undertake before qualifying as an ADI.

The criteria for the test are found in the National Standard for Driver and Rider Training, available online. 

A trainee is required to teach a 45-minute lesson to a learner driver in the presence of an assessor.

The test costs £111 for each attempt (first and retake), with an additional premium for tests taken out of office hours.

The pass rate for ADI Part Three is 36.7%. Statistically it is the toughest of the tests. Taken together, the test pass rates show the importance of investing in quality training.

How Much Do the Driving Instructor Licences Cost?

There are two types of driving instructor licence: the trainee driving instructor licence (sometimes called a “Potential Driving Instructor” or PDI licence), and the full “Approved Driving Instructor” or ADI licence.

A trainee driving instructor is able to apply for a trainee instructor licence if they:

  • Have passed ADI Part One within the past two years.
  • Have passed ADI Part Two.
  • Have received a minimum of forty hours of training from an ADI qualified in providing driving instruction, at least ten of which must have been in a car.
  • Are eligible to take ADI Part Three.

With a trainee instructor licence, a trainee is able to earn money from teaching learners to drive, granting them direct experience in this area before taking the ADI Part Three test (test of teaching ability).

The trainee driving instructor licence costs £140, and is valid for a period of six months.

While a trainee is able to apply for a renewal of a trainee licence after the six-month expiry period, approval of an extension is not guaranteed. In particular, a trainee is unlikely to be granted a renewal simply because they haven’t managed to book an ADI Part Three test, or because they have failed ADI Part Three.

However, a renewed trainee licence also costs £140, and is valid for a further six months.

Additionally, a trainee must choose between one of the following options at the time they apply for their trainee licence:

  • The trainee must be supervised by their sponsoring ADI for a minimum of 20% of the lessons they give to learners under their trainee licence; OR
  • The trainee must undergo at least twenty hours of additional training while they have their trainee licence.

Therefore, a trainee needs to factor in the additional costs of employing a supervisor or trainer to satisfy either of these requirements.

A trainee obtains a full ADI Licence once they qualify as an ADI (which is after they pass ADI Part Three). From that date, they are able to operate as qualified driving instructors, teaching learners to drive without supervision

The full licence costs £300 and is valid for four years. A renewal of the licence after the expiry date costs the same amount.

How Much Does It Cost To Set Up A Driving Instructor Business?

Most driving instructors go into business for themselves, even when they are affiliated with a driving school.

This means that an ADI is responsible for their own working hours, taking on learners to teach, and for taking care of all of their own administrative and accounting needs.

How Much Does it Cost to Set up Either a Sole Trader or as a Limited Company?

The first question an ADI needs to ask is which legal structure is most appropriate when setting up their driving instructor business:

  • Sole trader; or
  • Limited company

A sole trader means that the ADI and the ADI’s driving instructor business are regarded as the same legal entity. The ADI’s business income is treated as the ADI’s personal income, with the ADI being personally liable for any debts that the business incurs.

A limited company, on the other hand, is a distinct legal entity with separate finances and accounts. All debts and obligations are that of the business alone, so the ADI’s personal assets (such as their house) are not at risk if the business struggles to pay any money it owes to creditors.

Setting up as a sole trader is relatively cost-free in the first instance, and there is little paperwork to do other than filing an annual self-assessment tax return.

The main advantage of setting up a limited company, on the other hand, is that the business is liable for corporation tax rather than the generally higher levels of personal income tax. 

However, running a limited company involves more paperwork and administration, such as:

  • Registering with Companies House
  • Filing annual accounts.
  • Filing accounts and tax returns with HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC).

All of this causes the ADI to incur more immediate costs.

Is it Most Cost-Effective for a Driving Instructor to Operate as a Sole Trader or as a Limited Company?

The vast majority of driving instructors set up as sole traders. The reasons for this, generally, are as follows:

  • The tax advantages of limited liability companies are realisable only when an ADI’s net income becomes high enough to make them liable for the higher rates of personal income tax (currently more than £50,271 annually). After deducting expenses, most ADIs do not expect to earn this amount of income.
  • Unless an ADI aspires to set up their own driving school, a driving instructor business isn’t ever likely to expand beyond what a single ADI is able to manage personally. Expenses are well defined, employees are rarely hired, and there is little need to raise vast amounts of capital.

In sum, the additional costs of compliance in running a limited company are unlikely to be worthwhile for most ADIs.

How Much Does a Driving Instructor's Car Cost?

The main expense for an ADI business is running a suitable, dual control vehicle in which to give driving lessons. Dual control allows the instructor to take control of the vehicle when necessary, e.g. if the learner is about to do something dangerous.

While it is possible to have dual controls retrofitted to a vehicle for £200-£300 plus fitting fee of approximately £100, it is also possible to lease a dual-control car.

Buying and Leasing Options for Driving Instructors

Driving instructors have the option of either buying or leasing the vehicles in which they teach. According to Intelligent Instructor’s March 2019 magazine, approximately 1 in 4 driving instructors lease their cars.

The precise cost of buying a vehicle depends on several factors – including the ADI’s preferred make and model, together with their ability to find a bargain.

Therefore, an estimate of the total cost is a wide margin of £5,000 to £50,000, although most instructors will buy second-hand cars with a monthly cost of around £150-£300.

A vehicle does not have to be new, but both mileage and wear and tear are higher than in a regular vehicle. 

Learners always make a higher volume of mistakes, such as changing gear with the clutch up or over-revving. Vehicles therefore have a higher need for maintenance and are more likely to have repairs as they get older when used for driving instruction. This means the ADI may choose to change vehicles more frequently.

What are the Costs of Hiring a Vehicle for Driving Instructors?

The cost of hiring a vehicle varies according to what is included in the precise rental package, such as:

  • Make and model of the vehicle
  • Mileage allowance
  • Coverage for breakdown and repairs
  • Whether insurance is included
  • The period of hire

If an ADI is prepared to commit to a long-term contract of at least one year, it is possible to keep the cost down to approximately £500 monthly. 

Surepass instructors are offered favourable terms from Surepass when their own car is off the road for maintenance or repair.

Is it More Cost Effective for a New Driving Instructor to Hire or Lease a Vehicle?

When an ADI is newly qualified, the cheapest lease options are likely to be more attractive than buying a vehicle. However, once an ADI is more established and earning a higher, regular income, other options become viable.

A local driving school or a reputable car dealership is the best place for an ADI to ask for detailed advice on sourcing a vehicle in any particular region.

Some schools also sell their used, dual control vehicles to their ADIs for as little as £5,000.

What are the Ongoing Costs of Running a Driving Instructor Business?

How Much Does Driving Instructor Insurance Cost?

When buying a vehicle (or leasing without insurance included) an ADI must purchase insurance separately.

Driving instructor insurance is more comprehensive than regular insurance because so many learners take control of the vehicle.

Mandatory items by law include:

  • Any driver (including learners) cover.
  • Hire and reward cover.

Additional items include:

  • Negligent Tuition Cover (in case a learner makes a claim against the ADI)
  • Modified Vehicle Cover (for dual control features)
  • Comprehensive Driving Other Cars Cover (for occasions on which an ADI demonstrates driving in other vehicles)
  • Replacement Dual Control Vehicle Cover – allowing an ADI to carry on teaching when their regular vehicle is out of service.
  • Off-Road Drivers Cover – enabling an ADI to teach learners over the age of 14 off-the-road.

Factors affecting how much an ADI must pay for their insurance are:

  • The precise combination of items above that an insurer includes as part of their standard package
  • Whether a driving instructor is a trainee or a fully qualified ADI
  • The number of weekly teaching hours
  • The make, model, age and condition of the vehicle
  • The region in which an ADI teaches.

Insurance is on a personalised basis. Insurance for instructors can vary from £5 to as much as £100 per month.

What Other Costs are Involved in Operating a Driving Instructor Business?

Once an ADI has decided on the structure of their business, other costs need to be considered when starting up:

Vehicle + Insurance

The biggest costs in setting up a driving instructor business are sourcing and insuring the vehicle in which lessons are given. This is addressed in more detail below.

Branding

An ADI must decide on the appearance of their branding, i.e. the kind of logo used and the typeface in which the business name is printed on all marketing materials.

Depending upon the complexity of any requirements, a professional design is obtainable for approximately £200.

Vehicle Advertising

A major advantage of working as an ADI is that the vehicle acts as a free, roving advertising banner.

An ADI requires a roof sign and adhesive panels for their car. These are provided by reputable driving schools, including Surepass.

Other Advertising and Marketing Costs

  • Business Cards (£10-£100 for 250 cards, depending on the material and quality).
  • Website (variable cost to build and host per year. Typically provided by a larger driving school)
  • Local newspaper or magazine advertisements (£20-£300 depending on the size, position and page of the advert). Print advertising should be carefully measured to ensure it provides a return on investment.

Administration Systems

An ADI needs system(s) in place for managing bookings as well as income and expenses. Paper ledgers are able to manage simple procedures and transactions, but software and apps save time and effort with more complex matters. Many banks now provide free or low-cost small business accounting software.

Fuel and Vehicle Servicing

The cost of running the car used for training will depend upon the choice of car and mileage.

Some of these costs are absorbed by a driving school if an ADI chooses to franchise with them. Under this arrangement, an ADI pays a franchise fee each month to receive a range of support and benefits. These can simplify running the business.

What Are My Payment Options With Surepass Training? How Much Am I Able to to Earn?

When training with Surepass, a trainee has the option of paying for the whole course either upfront or in monthly instalments. This choice is available with all 1-1 training packages.

Are Driving Instructors Able to Earn While They Learn with Surepass? Are there any Costs Involved?

A trainee driving instructor can earn money from teaching other people to drive after they pass both ADI Part One and ADI Part Two and register for a trainee driving instructor licence (sometimes called a “Potential Driving Instructor” or PDI licence). 

For the £140 registration fee, the instructor receives a pink badge to display in the car while training pupils. The licence is valid for six months.

An additional requirement is that a trainee must have received a minimum of forty hours of training from an ADI qualified in providing driving instruction (at least ten of which must have been in a car) before applying for a trainee licence.

A trainee’s licence must be attached to an established driving school from whom the trainee must source learners to teach. A trainee instructor cannot operate independently. Surepass offers the necessary support to trainees while they hold their trainee licence.

How Much Do Qualified Surepass Driving Instructors Earn?

How much a driving instructor is able to earn with Surepass depends on the number of learners an ADI is willing to teach together with the number of hours they are prepared to work.

Assuming a lesson price of £31 to £33*, working for 48 weeks per year, an ADI with Surepass earns the following:

Weekly Teaching Hours

Weekly Gross Income

Annual Gross Income

10

£305 to £325

£14,640 to £15,600

15

£458 to £488

£21,960 to £23,400

20

£610 to £650

£29,280 to £31,200

25

£763 to £813

£36,600 to £39,000

30

£915 to £975

£43,920 to £46,800

35

£1,068 to £1,138

£51,240 to £54,600

40

£1,220 to £1,300

£58,560 to £62,400

45

£1,373 to £1,463

£65,880 to £70,200

50

£1,525 to £1,625

£73,200 to £78,000

*This is the typical lesson price range offered by Surepass. Regional variations apply.

Competitive lesson prices together with franchise packages promising no fewer than 100 pupils to teach per year all mean that Surepass presents the maximum opportunity for earnings potential.