ADI and PDI Driving Instructors – What’s the Difference?

ADI and PDI Driving Instructors – What’s the Difference?


A driving instructor plays a crucial role in making sure that learners acquire the skills and knowledge to pass their driving test. Most importantly, they assist students in becoming safe, confident drivers on the road.

However, not all driving instructors have the same skills, qualifications, and experience. In the UK, there are two main types of driving instructors authorised to provide driving lessons – Potential Driving Instructors (PDIs) and Approved Driving Instructors (ADIs).

If you’re considering becoming a driving instructor or you’re currently completing your driving instructor training, you need to know the difference between an ADI and PDI. To help you, we’ve put together this blog, outlining what ADIs and PDIs are, and the differences between the two.


What is a PDI?

PDIs are potential driving instructors, i.e. those who are still in the process of training to become ADIs. To be considered a PDI and possess a trainee licence (also known as a pink badge), you need to have passed parts one and two of the ADI test, and completed at least 40 hours of training (with at least 10 in-car hours). 

Simply put, PDIs on a trainee licence are yet to have passed the final test to become an ADI.

What is a PDI qualified to do?

Being at an interim stage of their learning, a PDI is allowed some of the privileges of an ADI alongside some restrictions, in the interest of public safety.

A PDI can only offer driving lessons while they hold a trainee licence (pink badge), and if they work within an established driving school, like Bill Plant Driving School.

Before PDIs can begin teaching learners, they must first obtain a trainee driving instructor licence from the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA). In the UK, you can apply for a trainee driving instructor licence online – these licences are only valid for 6 months.

What is an ADI?

An ADI is a fully qualified, approved driving instructor. To qualify as an ADI, you must complete three tests set by the DVSA. The first two tests will assess your driving ability and knowledge of the Highway Code (you can apply to become a PDI on completion of these), and the third test assesses how you train learner drivers, known as the Instructional Ability Test.

Once you’ve met the requirements to become an ADI, and received your ‘green badge’ licence, you will have to meet certain requirements to maintain your ADI status.

This includes completing periodic training and undergoing a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check.

What is an ADI qualified to do?

ADI status means that someone is fully qualified as a driving instructor, so they can either work as part of a driving school or run their own independent business. As part of being an ADI, and display a green badge as proof of their advanced status.

What is the Instructional Ability Test?

The Instructional Ability Test (IAT) evaluates the ability to teach learners how to drive and is the third and final part of the ADI test. PDIs cannot become ADIs until they have passed all three tests, this must be done within 6 months of receiving your trainee driving instructor licence. 

It’s also important to note that, if you fail the IAT three times, you must start your training again from the beginning.

a Bill Plant Driving School car driving down a residential street

The benefits of becoming a driving instructor

There is currently a shortage of driving instructors in the UK, resulting in a greater demand for people to complete their ADIs. Once you have your PDI, you can give driving lessons under the supervision of a qualified driving school, so you can start learning, whilst earning, right away. 

As a Bill Plant Driving School trainee driving instructor, you can look forward to practising delivering lessons while earning a decent weekly income. While you’re a PDI, you’ll have an experienced, qualified driving school helping you every step of the way to ensure you can pass part three of the ADI exam.

You’ll receive hands-on training as a PDI too, working with real learner drivers, so you can gain plenty of experience to pass the IAT first time.

Once you’re qualified as an ADI, you can earn a substantial salary as a driving instructor. An added benefit of driving instructor training with Bill Plant Driving School is that you get support in building your business to make it a success. 

If you’re interested in becoming a driving instructor with Bill Plant Driving School, you can request a free driving instructor training pack.

For more guidance on how to become a driving instructor, including our top tips on passing your driving instructor training and how to apply for a PDI licence, check out our blog

FAQs about ADIs and PDIs

What is the difference between a PDI and an ADI?

ADIs is a fully qualified driving instructor, having passed all three parts of the exams Meanwhile, a PDI is a driving instructor who has not yet passed all of their training to become an ADI. A PDI with a trainee licence will have passed parts one and two of the ADI test, but not part three.

How much does it cost to become a PDI driving instructor?

Trainee licences are optional steps towards a full ADI certificate, also known  as ‘the pink badge’ or ‘the pink triangle’. This licence costs you £140 and an ADI must sponsor the PDI. In this context, sponsoring does not mean paying for the fee, but rather agreeing to coach the PDI.

What is a PDI in driving?

Until a trainee has passed the third and final part of the ADI test, the instructor will be called a Potential Driving Instructor (PDI). They may sometimes also be called the trainee instructor. Once a PDI has passed their training they will be considered as  an approved driving instructor (ADI) and be qualified to teach trainee instructors.

How long does it take to become a driving instructor?

Looking at the averages as a rough guide, your training to become a driving instructor will most likely take between 6 to 9 months.

That being said, it could be done sooner, everyone learns at their own pace and it depends on the quality of your teachers. Here at the acclaimed Bill Plant Driving School, we offer an array of different learning structures to make sure you’re doing what is right for you. Be sure to get in touch with our team to find out more.

How can you tell the difference between a PDI and an ADI?

You should be able to tell the difference between an ADI and a PDI from the badges that are on their training cars.

An ADI driving instructor will have a green badge on the dashboard of their car, visible through the front window. A PDI will have a pink triangular badge in the same place. 

How can you apply to become a driving instructor?

You can apply to become a driving instructor in four simple steps:

  1. Apply with DVSA and undertake the relevant pre-checks
  2. Take part in your driving instructor training
  3. Pass parts one & two of the test to receive your PDI status
  4. Pass part three of the test to become an ADI

You can get started on your way to gaining a driving instructor licence here with Bill Plant. Discover more about becoming a driving instructor.

Why do some people choose to learn to drive with a PDI driving instructor?

You may choose to learn to drive with a Potential Driving Instructor (PDI) for a variety of reasons. They are fresh out of training and may have innovative approaches and modern teaching techniques, and are often up-to-date with the latest training methods. Furthermore, as PDIs are working towards full qualification, they may have a higher level of enthusiasm, leading to a potentially more engaging learning experience.

Is it better to learn to drive with a PDI or an ADI?

Choosing between a Potential Driving Instructor (PDI) or an Approved Driving Instructor (ADI) ultimately depends on various factors. ADIs have undergone all mandatory training and passed all three parts of their instructor test, demonstrating a level of teaching proficiency. 

On the other hand, PDIs are still in training but have successfully passed the first two parts of the test. Although they are working towards full qualifications, they may offer fresh teaching techniques, potentially charge lower fees, and have access to support from a registered ADI or a national driving school.