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No Driving Licence? Is It Harder For Non-Drivers To Find Jobs?

Updated on October 3, 2014

Are you a non-driver? Are you looking for a job? Maybe both categories apply to you at the same time – in which case, you may be starting to wonder whether not being able to drive is a handicap in relation to looking for a job.

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Certainly, when you’re in work it’s easy to remain oblivious to just how wide a range of jobs either explicitly require a driving licence from applicants, or are simply impossible (or very difficult) to get to without one. In the case of the former, it’s not just the case with actual jobs as van drivers and bus drivers, for example. There are a surprising number of jobs where driving can be requirement: on-the-road sales, care work in people’s homes, certain types of bank-style admin for local authorities where you’re required to be flexible regarding the location of your daily work. Just a few examples!

And of course, if you’re barred from applying from such jobs at a time when any job is at a premium, then it cuts down still further the already limited range of jobs available to you.

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For jobs that are difficult to get to, not being able to drive similarly reduces the number of positions you can realistically apply to. Almost worse, it has you mentally (and via pen and the back of an envelope) calculating the logistics of the borderline jobs. ‘So if I get up at 4.30 a.m. and trek across my neighbour’s fields I can catch the early morning bus to the train station, then it’s just two connections and a taxi to arrive three hours forty minutes later at work…’ That’s ten minutes that you’re never going to get back! Or maybe you start wondering about the viability, health benefits and disadvantages of cycling to work, and that opens up a whole new can of worms (especially in relation to road safety).

As a non-driver, what are your reasons for not holding a driving licence? Have you just never got around to it? Are you currently learning but not there yet? Are you intending to learn at some point but something’s holding you back? Are there medical reasons for your hesitation? Is it the cost? (And, wow, it’s certainly not cheap to learn to drive these days. If you’re feeling fragile don’t even take a look at the current prices, they’ll do your blood pressure no good!)

Are you just nervous and uneasy about the thought of learning to drive, feeling yourself to be someone with little roadsense? Maybe you think the world really isn’t that short of one extra bad driver – considering how many there are already out there! Or perhaps you’ve already failed the test a number of times, and you’re just dreading the extra expense and wracked nerves involved in having yet another go. Of course, if you’re an ex-driver who’s now banned from driving, then that brings up a whole other range of issues…

So, does being a non-driver put potential employers off? Of course, in jobs where it’s an absolute requirement to be able to drive, the issue doesn’t even come up. In positions where it’s desirable, I have always assumed that I’d be pretty lucky to make the shortlist, never mind actually bag the job. What about jobs where it doesn’t come up in the job description or the person specification? I do have an eerie feeling that, somehow, people make judgements of non-drivers that aren’t completely favourable, and might impact upon the likelihood of landing a particular job, however irrelevant. Indeed, I have had colleagues observe before that being able to drive is part of the normal complement of skills that any adult should have mastered.

Is there a downside to learning to drive later in life? Certainly there are studies to suggest that the later you learn, the harder it is to pass your test.1

So, if you haven’t embarked upon a course of driving lessons already, is it a worthwhile investment? Well, certainly with the job market shaping up the way it is at the moment, any skill you can pick up isn’t going to hurt. And in relation to jobs with driving as an absolutely required or desired attribute, or those where you’re not going to be able to get to them via public transport, it’s obviously an advantage. How much of one, and whether it’s worth the investment of money and time, is something you have to judge. But at least you might not spend so many hours stuck at a bus stop in the rain!


1. Hall, J., West, R. 'Role of formal instruction and informal practice in learning to drive'. Ergonomics. 1996; 39: pp. 693-706.


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