Over the previous article we covered some of the advantages of being a driving instructor. As with the majority of jobs, there are disadvantages too.
If you are trying to decide if the life of a driving instructor is for you, you are likely looking at the benefits, all the pros and cons and of course the disadvantages of being a driving instructor. The training can be expensive, the job can be rewarding, but without some impartial advice to show both the advantages and disadvantages, it can be easy to take on a career that might ultimately not be suited to you.
Some people prefer the ease of having all their tax calculated by their employer. Being self-employed will require that you either do this yourself or use an accountant. Some also prefer the security of being employed, to work a set amount of hours per day and guaranteed holidays each year. Being self-employed often requires that you work long and unsociable hours.
Working unsociable hours
Working unsociable hours if part of the course with most driving instructors. If a full 40 plus hour weeks work is essential to you, you will have to fir driving lessons around your learners and as many of these may have full time jobs, working late into the evening may be required. Weekend driving lessons are also frequently requested from learner drivers. Many driving instructors often start the day late, at around 11am and finish late at around 8pm. Instructors will also usually work over the weekend and take one or two days off during the week.
Daily ‘dead time’
You will of course need to drive from one driving lesson to the next. This all takes time and how much time depends on the area you live and how well you arrange your diary. If you work in a city with a high population of students, you may find that you can organise your diary in such a way that your pupils are relatively close and requires minimal driving. If you are situated in such an area that involves traveling to different towns and villages, this may take longer.
Driving instructors typically take from 15 to 30 minutes to travel between lessons. If you work for a driving school, you may also find that they send you places that involve long journeys. All this travelling between lessons or ‘dead time’ soon adds up over a week making 40 hours of paid tuition per week into a 50 or 60 hour week including travel.
Many have heard the stories of hapless driving instructors passing the ADI part 3 and signing up to a driving school only to find the amount of work they receive hardly covers the cost of the franchise and other expenses. Unfortunately this does happen. There’s nothing wrong in taking out a franchise, but do a little research before signing up. Consider joining a small local driving school as they may offer a more personal level of commitment compared to a national driving school.
High weekly outlay
This of course depends on an individual instructors circumstances. For some, by the time the weekly franchise to include a car, pupils and fuel expenses, you can be looking at paying upwards of £400 per week, before you have started to earn anything for yourself.
Beating the competition
There are more driving instructors than ever, but as with all businesses, some succeed and some disappear. A experienced and successful driving instructor will likely receive a good deal of work through recommendations although most need to advertise at certain times of the year. When looking for driving lessons, most fortunately favour good quality over the cost of a lesson. Driving instructors who offer vastly reduced lesson prices tend to be the ones that don’t last long as it isn’t ultimately financially viable. A good reputation takes time and combine this with an effective advertising campaign is often what’s required to succeed.
Driving lesson cancellations
Very short notice cancellations are an irritant to all driving instructor. Even worse are the people that don’t tell you at all and makes the journey to pick them up a waste of time and money due to fuel expenses. Some instructors suffer with last minute cancellations to a great extent, while others infrequently for whatever reason. This does of course have an impact on an instructors earning, but if an instructor is a long way from home, it can leave them with a three hour gap in the day (based on a two hour lessons and traveling time each side of the lesson) if they have a lesson planned afterwards.
Driving lessons become repetitive and tedious
This is really relative to the individual and many jobs can become repetitive and tedious after time. Visiting different locations and people can be an interesting aspect of a driving instructors career. After saying ‘at the end of the road turn left’ for what seems like the 500th time in that week, or yet another cockpit drill lesson may become arduous to some.
Some driving instructors over time can become apathetic and instead of spotting and rectifying faults, they can end up simply going along for the ride during a driving lesson. If a level of driving instruction reaches this stage, it’s probably time to throw in the licence or at least cut down the hours. An advantage to being a driving is that you can reduce the hours worked and combine it with an alternative job.
Getting impatient with your pupils
A requirement to being a driving instructor is being patient. You will of course expect novice drivers to make mistakes, but the learners that really test your patience are the ones that constantly make the same mistakes week-after-week and during each lesson. A good driving instructor will find an alternative teaching method for those that do not appear to respond accordingly with the methods typically used. Although this usually rectifies such issues, there are occasionally those learner drivers that do not seem to respond no matter what you do. You may also come across the novice drivers that know better than you and become impatient, stroppy and angry with your rectifying and remedial actions.
Meeting new people
You will of course meet lots of people as you teach them to drive. You may also make some new friends. Learning to drive is of course a serious subject, but driving lessons are always best conducted when kept light and humorous as it reduces the learners stress and nerves. You will find that you will have plenty of laughs with the people you are teaching.
You will be self-employed, but you may also decide to go it alone and start your own driving school. Over time, you will hopefully see your driving school become successful and to ultimately self-generate work by word of mouth and recommendations from previous learner drivers. Satisfaction also comes from seeing your learners pass the driving test, knowing that you have done a good job and that you’ve enhanced a person’s life.
Are the disadvantages too great?
Many of the disadvantages are relative to the individual as some may not find them a disadvantage at all. There are pros and cons in all jobs, but providing you don’t believe the adverts in that you will easily earn 30k per year for an easy life, then you’re off to a good start. There are many advantages to being a driving instructor, although initially it may seem the cons outweigh the pros. Careful planning, dedication and a good attitude to self-progression and your pupils should ultimately see the advantages outweigh the disadvantages.
- See also advantages of being a driving instructor which provides details of all the benefits of being a driving instructor