Sunday 8 April 2012

Expensive Lessons?

From time to time I hear complaints that driving lessons are too expensive and that instructors are 'ripping off' those who wish to learn to drive.  "£20 per hour is exorbitant - they're making a fortune!".  I've had potential pupils haggle with me, trying to get the price down and occasionally encounter the attitude that they are doing me a favour so I should be grateful.  It's time for the instructor to bite back :-) or at least have her say on the matter.

As with any small business I have running costs.  Fuel is a variable which will change depending on the lesson content but on average I do about 20 miles per hour's lesson.  The fuel consumption of the car is not at its most efficient, as the driver is a learner and there tends to be some over-revving, incorrect gear usage and sitting by the side of the road.  I also have to travel between lessons which sometimes can be quite a distance.  According to the statistics from last year, it worked out overall at £3.90 per hour.  I lease my car, which costs me almost £350 per month but does include servicing and road tax plus insurance at £450 per year, comes to £4.88 per hour.  Other expenses, including marketing, materials and phone comes to £2.58 per hour, in total £11.36 per hour's tuition.  So assuming I get £20 per hour, I will actually make £8.64 per hour.  Of course, in reality, I don't actually get £20 per hour when you consider discounts etc. - the actual amount per hour earned last year was £17.67 thus reducing my earned income to £6.61, not that much above the minimum wage!

In addition, the business of being an instructor starts long before a pupil ever sits down in the car and finishes long after they get out.  Yes, they may only be paying for an hour of my time but the work that I do on their behalf goes well beyond that hour.

I start work on a lesson by reading up my notes from the previous lesson, possibly more than one, and looking at the subject of the current lesson.  The lesson may consist of something new, consolidation of something recently learned, dealing with specific problems, revisiting something learned some time ago, practising roadcraft, preparing for a test or, frankly, anything in between.  This is not something that can be done on the fly - some forethought needs to be applied and that is best done before setting out to pick the pupil up.   I plan the route, at least in part, considering where I want to be to teach the subject matter of the lesson.

Okay, so planning the route is easy, isn't it?  Well, no, not always.  If the most direct route to the target area means going across, say, a horrendously tricky roundabout and the pupil hasn't yet tackled such things, then an alternative route may have to be chosen.  This is not because I do not believe that the pupil would be able to handle the roundabout, particularly with guidance, but because the roundabout may cause the pupil's confidence to be shattered or fear to set in, neither of which will help in the long run.  So, an alternative route may be necessary - the roundabout can wait for another day!

Once the lesson is over, I then have to update the records to show what has been done.  This extends to confirming that the most recent lesson has fulfilled its purpose, making notes about any problems that have arisen, detailing the areas driven and the subject to be covered in the next lesson.

So, having done these 'before' and 'after' activities, all that I then have to do is the lesson itself - phew!  That's alright then. So my £6.61 per hour actually ends up covering probably 2 hours allowing for pre- and post-lesson activities, planning, travelling to and from locations so that's just £3.30 per hour.

Why on earth do I do this job then?  Well it's because I love it.  I get a huge amount of job satisfaction and the joy of helping people to achieve success by passing their test is just brilliant.

So, the next time someone suggests that driving instructors must be raking it in and are charging exorbitant prices, you can now put them right and tell them that we do it for the love of the job :-D


  1. £20 an hour is nowhere near enough, you should charge double!

    You are offering & selling a life changing skill. Once someone passes their driving test their life opportunities, job prospects, earning potential & freedom grow immensely.

    They are also booking time with a well trained professional. So £20 is nothing.


  2. Pam, you are spot on in what you say, but people for the most part see us Instructors as a means to an end only, i.e pass the test.
    We are professionals, but cant charge a professional rate because a lot of people out there think they can do our job as well as an Instructor.
    as an example people will pay in excess of £30 for a music lesson, as they cant do this themselves.


  3. Great blog post, well put...
    It would be a wonderful world if the true value of our profession was recognised.


  4. I feel the best idea would be for driving instructors to be fair to one another by charging a minimum rate. We would all therefore not earn a brilliant wage but a decent wage and students would have more respect for how mentally draining our job can be. Imagine better hourly rate, instructor then works less hours which leads to more mental energy, therefore better tuition.
    A student also paying a reasonable rate per hour learns quicker because they get value for money and because they are paying more apply themselves.
    I couldn't imagine a driving instructor being over enthusiastic to earn minimum wage.

  5. I wrote an amazingly long reply to this topic and unfortunately technology decided that I had to write it again :p

    I love this post and thank you for detailing what approximately instructors earn and where the money goes. This should be published more as I couldn't agree more.

    Instructors are so underrated in the professional world. I am a learner driver and I get charged about 20 pounds and I just find this absolutely less, when conducting all the calculations, you barely make anything and that is also dependant on how many hours are being taught.

    What also bugs me is when people complain about how expensive driving is for them, I understand some people may genuinely not be able to afford lessons and stuff but there are some arrogant people in the world who just cannot bear to part with their money and I find that really wrong. I mean you get your licence and pink card for a total of your LIFE and a couple of thousands spent towards that seems nothing. People need to appreciate driving instructors and the rates more.

    This might all seem strange coming from a learner driver who you might think is rich ..but no...I saved up all my birthday money's , school money and even lunch money for my driving lessons and now today I can afford as many as i want. :)

    I would appreciate it if you could take the time to follow my blog as i'm also working to highlight issues to the world, although they are completely different issues, i would be happy if you could.

    Happy new year


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