Driving Examiner

The Job and What's Involved

Driving examiners carry out driving tests to assess whether candidates should be given full driving licences. They conduct over 1.9 million car driver tests a year in the UK. Many candidates are young drivers, who may be just eligible for a licence, having recently had their 17th birthday.

The standard driving test lasts up to 45 minutes, with the examiner sitting alongside the candidate in the car. The examiner begins by giving the candidate an eyesight test. Candidates must pass the eyesight test, or the driving test cannot continue.

The examiner then directs the candidate around a set route and assesses how safely they drive. They note any faults. If they feel that a candidate is a danger to other road users they stop the test.

Candidates are also examined on two of the following special exercises: reversing around a corner, turning in the road or reverse parking. They may also be asked to do an emergency stop. Finally, the examiner asks the candidate two questions about vehicle safety checks.

At the end of the test, the examiner considers the number of faults they have noted. Candidates with up to 15 driving faults pass the test. If they have 16 or more faults, or if they have one serious or dangerous fault, they fail the test. The examiner tells the candidate whether or not they have passed and offers feedback on how they have performed.

The examiner returns to their centre to write a short report on the test before it is time to assess the next candidate. Examiners conduct up to seven tests a day.

Driving examiners work in a team with other examiners. Examiners in larger centres are supervised by a senior driving examiner or supervising examiner. In small centres there may be an examiner responsible for the day-to-day running of the centre with a senior driving examiner or supervising examiner visiting on a regular basis.

Full-time driving examiners normally work 35 hours a week, Monday to Friday, 8.30am to 4.30pm. Driving tests are also conducted on Saturdays, and into the evening in summer, although this additional work is voluntary. There are good opportunities for part-time examiners, providing they can work at least two days a week. Flexible working hours and overtime are available.

Driving examiners are based at one test centre, but may be expected to work at a variety of test centres in the local area. They spend most of their time on the road, sitting in cars.

The starting salary for a new driving examiner may be around £19,792 a year. Examiners who work in south-east England, within the M25, are paid an additional £3,600 a year. All examiners are paid overtime for any work beyond their normal working hours.

Getting Started with this Career Choice

There are over 1,600 driving examiners in the UK, working in over 400 test centres. The Driving Standards Agency (DSA) employs examiners in England, Scotland and Wales. In Northern Ireland, examiners work for the Driver and Vehicle Testing Agency.

The number of driving examiners needed at any time depends on the demand for tests being taken. Recently, the demand for driving tests has dropped slightly. Competition for vacancies varies, but generally there are more applicants than vacancies.

Vacancies are advertised in local newspapers and on the DSA website. The DSA also keeps local databases of people who express an interest in driving examiner vacancies.

Education and Training

To become a driving examiner there are no set academic requirements. Applicants must:

  • Be aged 63 or under.
  • Have held a UK or European Union driving licence continuously for the last four years.
  • Have no more than three current penalty points on their driving licence.

They must complete an application form. If they are shortlisted, they must then pass:

  • A theory and hazard perception test.
  • An eyesight test.
  • A special driving test - an extended version of the driving test, conducted by a supervising examiner - to pass, candidates must show a high standard of driving competence without any serious faults, and it helps if they have been driving frequently.
  • A competency-based interview that lasts around 45 minutes - this focuses on four key competencies: judgment and decision making, customer service orientation, self-awareness and change, plus communication skills.

A Few More Exams You Might Need

Trainee examiners attend a four-week training course at Cardington, Bedfordshire. They must pass the course to be able to begin examining, so they have a conditional contract for the duration of the training. Training focuses mainly on learning the assessment and interpersonal skills needed to become an effective examiner. If they successfully complete the training, candidates are placed in the reserved test centre and begin examining.

Throughout their careers, driving examiners undergo regular checks of their standards and performance. They must keep up to date with any changes in legislation and testing procedures and change their working practices accordingly.

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Skills and Personal Qualities Needed

A driving examiner should:

  • Be observant.
  • Be consistent and fair.
  • Have good spoken and written communication skills.
  • Be friendly, helpful and polite.
  • Be able to put people at ease.
  • Remain calm under pressure.
  • Be capable of being firm when giving feedback to failed candidates.
  • Be able to deal with difficult situations, such as candidates getting angry or upset.
  • Work well on their own and in a team.
  • Have a flexible approach to work, willing to cover for other examiners when necessary.
  • Be able to adapt to a routine pattern of work.

Your Long Term Prospects

When driving examiners have had at least twelve months' experience of being car driver test examiners, they can train to become examiners of large goods vehicle (LGV), passenger carrying vehicle (PCV) or motorcycle tests. They must have the relevant licences for the vehicles they wish to examine in and there must be demand for examiners in their chosen field.

For driving examiners who wish to develop their career, it is possible to progress to senior driving examiner, then supervising examiner.

Get Further Information

Driver and Vehicle Testing,
Website: www.nidirect.gov.uk/motoring

Driving Standards Agency (DSA), Stanley House,
56 Talbot Street, Nottingham NG1 5GU
Tel: 0115 901 2500
Website: www.dsa.gov.uk

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