Can You Become a Driving Instructor With an Automatic Licence?

Can You Become a Driving Instructor With an Automatic Licence?


Working as an approved driving instructor (ADI) is both rewarding and challenging. You will be providing the road users of tomorrow with essential life skills, imparting your knowledge and experience to ensure they become confident, competent drivers.

If you’re considering a career as a driving instructor, you might be wondering whether you can undertake the training and deliver lessons if you hold an automatic licence.

In this guide, we explore the laws and regulations around becoming a driving instructor with an automatic licence to help you decide if it’s the right profession for you. 

a male driving instructor holding a clipboard in front of a car

Can I become a driving instructor with an automatic licence?

In short, yes! You can become a driving instructor with an automatic licence. But, as a result, you will only be able to deliver driving lessons in automatic vehicles.

This is for safety reasons, first and foremost. If you hold an automatic driving licence, you won’t have learned the additional skills needed to drive a manual car. The main differences between automatic and manual vehicles are as follows.

2 pedals (Brake and Accelerate)3 pedals (Clutch, Brake, and Accelerate)
4 gears (Park, Reverse, Neutral, and Drive)6+ gears (Neutral, Reverse, and 1-5)
Automatic gear changes as speed increases/decreasesManual gear changes using the clutch pedal as speed increases/decreases

So, whilst you can train to become an approved driving instructor (ADI), most teaching schools advise obtaining a full UK driving licence for manual transmission vehicles first. This will provide you with far more flexibility in the lessons you can offer and allow you to attract a greater number of students than just those seeking to learn how to drive an automatic.

What are the other requirements for becoming a driving instructor?

Alongside a full, clean licence, there are a few things to be mindful of when you’re looking to embark on driving instructor training.

Age and Driving Experience

  • Instructors must be at least 21 years old.
  • Instructors must have held a full UK or European Union/European Economic Area (EU/EEA) driving licence for at least 3 years.

Criminal Record Check

Like with any teaching role in the UK, you’ll need to pass a criminal record check to become  a driving instructor. Criminal record or DBS checks allow employers to check whether you have any past criminal convictions or cautions that may mean you pose a risk to prospective students. Read our full blog post on driving instructor DBS checks for more information.

Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) Requirements

To uphold national standards for driving instruction in the UK, the DVSA sets clear requirements for anyone looking to train for, or renew, their driving instructor licence. These cover your driving record, previous instruction experience, and your overall level of fitness to teach.

Certain medical conditions might prevent you from taking control of your tuition vehicle in an emergency, and impaired vision will make it harder for you to spot upcoming hazards or read road signs. For this reason, you must disclose any new or existing conditions to the DVSA in order to join the ADI register.

Visit the GOV.UK website to find out more about the DVSA national standard.

Pass the Approved Driving Instructor (ADI) Qualification

The qualification for a fully qualified driving instructor has 3 parts in the UK.

  1. The theory test (ADI part 1) – This part will test your knowledge of driving theory, including hazard perception and road laws. It’s similar to your standard theory test when you first try for your driver’s licence.
  2. The practical driving test (ADI part 2) – This can be seen as a driving ability test and will assess your ability to handle a vehicle at an advanced level.
  3. The instructional ability test (ADI part 3) – This is the final test in your approved driving instructor training and evaluates your teaching skills and ability to impart driving knowledge to learners. This is the part that most trainees find the hardest, so getting in some extra practice whilst you’re a PDI can be hugely beneficial. 

Tips on how to become a great driving instructor

Whilst we understand that there isn’t a surefire way for anyone to learn a new skill, there are a couple of factors that can go a long way in helping you understand how to be a good driving instructor.

Register as a potential driving instructor (PDI)

Once you’ve passed the first 2 parts of the ADI qualification, you can apply to become a potential driving instructor. This will allow you to take lessons under a driving school’s supervision and provide you with invaluable experience on the run-up to your final test.

The more experience you have, the better you’ll become. So, it makes sense to start as early as you can.

Continuing professional development

After becoming a qualified ADI, we’d recommend engaging in continuous professional development (CPD) to maintain and enhance your skill set. This can include taking additional training courses or attending workshops, which can be found across the UK year-round.

Become a driving instructor with Bill Plant Driving School

Whether you want to learn to be an automatic or manual driving instructor, it’s best to learn at a great driving school. 

Bill Plant Driving School is an award-winning driving school providing industry-leading tuition for learner drivers and instructors alike. 

Over the years, we’ve built a thriving community of some of the best driving instructors across the UK and offer a range of flexible training courses to make the process of becoming an ADI that bit easier.

If you’re serious about becoming your own boss, working your own hours and making a competitive wage, explore our driving instructor courses to take your first step towards an exciting new career.

Not sure where to start? Get in touch with one of our experts today with any questions.


How much money do driving instructors make?

The average income for driving instructors can be around £1,600 per month after expenses. In most places in the UK, you can earn anywhere between £20,000 to £30,000 a year. However, due to the freelance nature of driving instruction, the amount you make per year will vary on how many hours you work and the rates you charge. 

How long does it take to become a driving instructor?

After you’ve started your ADI training, most can expect to be fully qualified within 6-8 weeks. Of course, it is important to note that every person is different and learns at varying rates.

Can I become a driving instructor with penalty points on my licence?

The DVSA states that you have to have less than 6 penalty points on your driver’s licence to become a qualified driving instructor. Barriers like this are put in place to maintain the high standards of driving education in the UK.

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