Have you ever considered becoming a driving instructor? Do you like the idea of being your own boss? Perhaps it’s the freedom of a life on the road that appeals, or the chance to earn ‘up to £40,000 a year’ as the adverts claim.
To help you decide whether the instructor life is right for you, we’ve compiled a list of honest pros and cons about being an Approved Driving Instructor (ADI).
Being your own boss
Despite the bookkeeping and the lack of anyone else to blame if the business fails, freedom is, for many people, priceless.
If you are self-motivated and organised, you’ll find that being an instructor means that you, rather than your supervisor or the HR department, control your life and your future.
And the best bit is that the profits are all yours to keep (after the tax office take their slice of course!).
If you dislike routine or being cooped up in an office, being a driving instructor will be a breath of fresh air. No two days will be identical, and your ‘commute’ will change daily. Yes, you’ll still have to deal with the traffic, but you can also escape the office politics.
Part of being your own boss means being able to set your own schedule. You don’t have to work anti-social hours if you really don’t want to. You can teach part time and take holidays when you want without having to ask for permission.
You will need to take into consideration that you won’t get paid for holidays and, if you’re with a driving school, you’ll still have to pay your franchise fee.
Once established, instructors can earn a good level of income. Typically, this is around £15,000 to £20,000 a year if you work for a driving school, and around £20,000 to £30,000 if you work for yourself.
Being an ADI can mean more than just training members of the public to pass their DVLA test. In due course, you might find some of the other options appealing such as fleet training, intensive courses or ADI instruction and we want to help you get there.
Benefits of leasing a dual control vehicle with Hitachi Capital:
- Lease a brand new fully maintained, dual control vehicle whilst training to become an ADI
- No termination penalties if you have to give up teaching
- If you are granted an extension, no changes will be required to the vehicle and no penalties will be given if you do not pass
- Dedicated driving instructor support from our in house team
- 12, 24, 30 & 36 months contracts, with 6 month increment available
Despite the long hours, many instructors are hugely enthusiastic about their job and how rewarding teaching someone a life-changing and empowering new skill can be.
While some pupils can be trying, most instructors find that meeting new people and working with a variety of personalities is hugely enjoyable and rarely boring.
Being your own boss
Although this sounds like a pro, for some people it can also be a con. Whilst the freedom to control your own destiny, work when you want and set your own fees might sound appealing, the pressure of generating a consistent level of income, getting to grips with business accounting and learning to manage the legal and administrative paperwork isn’t everyone’s idea of fun.
A good accountant can help, and business expenses such as accountancy charges are deductible, but you will still need to keep records.
You will also need to remember to put money aside for the inevitable tax bill, as well as VAT each quarter if you become successful enough to warrant being VAT registered.
More generally, as your own boss you are ultimately responsible for whether your business succeeds or fails. If you are not a self-motivating individual, or poorly organised, then being a self-employed driving instructor might not be right for you.
Like all start-up businesses, it isn’t particularly easy or cheap to becoming a driving instructor. Training is possible to complete in under 12 months, however it usually takes between 12-18 months and costs can be in the region of £3,000.
At Hitachi Capital we understand that sometimes things don’t work out or circumstances change, that’s why we allow you to terminate your contract from month 7 without any early termination penalties.
Making a profit (or loss)
As an ADI, you will have to fund ongoing expenses such as specialist insurance, fuel, car finance payments and regular servicing. If you work for a school, you will also need to pay a weekly franchise fee as well. Usually this is around £50, plus another £100 a week if you want to use one of their cars.
Of course, you could use your own car rather than a leased instructor car, but you will have to pay for it to be converted to dual control.
If you’re not with a driving school, it will be your responsibility to drum up the work and so you may need to find extra money for advertising and promotion. This is likely to be significantly higher in the first year or so after qualifying as you seek to establish a reputation and local awareness of your business.
However going independent and leasing with Hitachi Capital will mean you get a fully funded and maintained vehicle, we can also offer signage and roof boxes.
Anti-social hours & dead time
Most pupils will want to fit lessons around their own work-schedule, which means that instructors generally start late, end late and work weekends, often taking a day or two off during the week to compensate.
Every instructor needs to decide what works best for them and their pupils, but 11am to 8pm is a common shift pattern for many driving instructors.
You will also need to bare in mind the 15-30 minutes it takes to travel between lessons. This might not sound much but it can really add up over the course of a week. Afterall, this is time and fuel that you’re not being paid for.
It is impossible to say whether becoming an ADI is a good or bad thing. It’s more a question of making an informed choice about whether it is right for you personally. If you do decide to become a driving instructor, then you will certainly become a better driver, and maybe find the right work-life balance we are all seeking.
If you would like to find out more about how Hitachi Capital Vehicle Solutions can help you choose, finance and manage an instructor vehicle, our specialist team are always happy to help.