We reveal the inside track from your initial call to becoming a qualified driving instructor, in just four easy steps:
Step 1: Start the qualifying process
The first step is to check your eligibility: you need to be at least 21 years old, and have possessed a full driving licence for at least three years.
You’ll also have to undergo a criminal records check and the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) – which is responsible for licensing all driving instructors – will consider any cautions or convictions you may have had.
Points on your licence won’t automatically disqualify you from teaching, but the agency has to consider whether you’re suitable for this kind of work.
Step 2: The theory test
Once you’ve passed the qualifying process, you will be able to start your learning process and progress through a series of three different tests.
The first of these is all about driving theory, with 100 multiple choice questions covering things like traffic signs and signals, mechanical knowledge, instructional technique and the law.
You’ll also have to pass a computer-based assessment of your hazard perception, in which you have to identify hazards from a series of video clips.
You have to pass both sections in order to proceed to the next stage, but the good news is there’s no limit to how many times you can take this test!
Step 3: Your driving ability
As an instructor, you will need to demonstrate a higher level of driving ability than you did back when you were a learner driver yourself.
This could include motorway driving, as well as manoeuvres like the emergency stop and reverse park.
You’ll be expected to answer questions about your vehicle to demonstrate your technical understanding.
You’ll also have to demonstrate excellent levels of awareness, observation and anticipation of hazards.
You’ll be allowed no more than six driver faults, and the DVSA allow a maximum of three attempts before sending you back to the start of the process.
But once you’ve passed this stage, you’ll have the opportunity to get a trainee driving instructor licence, which will allow you to take your very first paying students and gain valuable experience for the next stage.
Step 4: Your teaching skills
The final stage in the process is a test of your ability to instruct and interact with your pupils. For this part, there’s something of a role reversal: you will now sit in the passenger seat and assume the role of the instructor, whilst your examiner will drive your car.
The examiner will play the role of two different learner drivers and will be assessing your ability to spot their mistakes and to offer advice and instruction in a clear, positive way.
You will need to complete this stage within two years of passing your theory test, or else you’ll have to start again from the beginning.
And that’s it. Once you’ve passed the three stages you will then officially be an approved driving instructor.