Having a Career as a Driving Instructor

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Just about everyone wants to learn to drive. Become a driving instructor, and you will work with teenagers eager to get driver's licenses, older people who have never learned how to drive, and licensed drivers who want to upgrade their driving skills. You will help your students solve the riddle of parallel parking, teach them how to enter and exit freeways, and, above all else, instruct them in safe driving practices. As a driving instructor, there is also the exciting possibility of teaching racing techniques, stunt driving, and high-performance driving.

What It's Like To Be a Driving Instructor

Your job is not dangerous. You will be able to anticipate what a beginning driver is going to do because new drivers do the same things. And for safety, you will have a brake and may even have a gas pedal and wheel. Besides teaching people how to drive, you may spend part of your time in the classroom teaching a group of students about cars, traffic safety, and state driving laws. Some instructors choose to spend all of their time teaching the classroom phase of driver instruction. You are more likely to do this if you teach at a high school. At a commercial driving school, most driving instructors will spend more time in a car than in a classroom.

Let's Find Out What Happens On the Job

You will usually drive up to each student's home in a dual-controlled car. Your driving session will last from 1 to 2 hours. During that time, you will concentrate on teaching your student what is needed to pass the state's driving test. Because every one of your students will have different needs, you will have to adapt and personalize your instruction to each new driver. By the end of the day you will have spent from 8 to 10 hours with students.

The Pleasures and Pressures of the Job

It is a pleasure to be your own boss and determine exactly how you will teach each student. And you are always meeting new people with diverse backgrounds. Imagine working in just one day with a high school junior, a lady who has just arrived from India, and a retired banker. Furthermore, you are never bored with the scenery because it changes throughout the day as you drive on different streets and highways. Of course, there are times when the weather is so bad your lessons are cancelled, and you aren't able to earn as much money. And you can't dictate your work hours because you must work when your students are free.

The Pay and the Perks

If you work for a commercial driving school, your pay will probably be by the hour. Depending on where you work, you will earn from $7 to $15 per hour. Full-time employees usually receive health benefits and paid vacation. They rarely receive sick days or retirement benefits. There is a new trend for driving instructors to become independent contractors. In this case, the instructor owns the training car and may work for more than one driving school. If you work for a high school, your pay scale will be the same as the other teachers. High school instructors also receive health care, paid vacations, and retirement benefits.

Driving instructors working at high schools must be college graduates and certified by the state in driver education. To work as a driving instructor at a commercial school, you need a special license in most states. Although requirements vary, you usually have to be 21 years old and a high school graduate. Successful applicants will pass both written and driving tests. They may also be required to pass a physical examination and a background check for criminal and traffic records. Quite often instructors also have to take formal driver instruction courses at colleges. To even apply for an instructor's license, it is frequently necessary to be sponsored by a driving school that will hire you after you receive a license. After you are hired and have a license, most schools will give you some on-the-job training.

Climbing the Career Ladder

There are thousands of driving schools in the United States at the present time, and majority of these schools are one-car operations. The owner is typically the instructor as well as the business manager. Before driving instructors start their own schools, they usually work at a driving school. Depending on the size of the school, driving instructors can climb the career ladder to become a supervisor, an office manager, and then possibly the owner.

Now Decide If Being a Driving Instructor Is Right for You

Think about all the teachers you have in school right now. Would you like to do their job? Of course, most of the time driving instructors at commercial schools teach in a car rather than a classroom. Still, as a driving instructor, you are likely to do some classroom instruction. In many states, teenagers must take 30 hours of classroom instruction. When you teach this class, the curriculum will come from the state. However, you will have to make assignments, give lectures, and arrange for videos and filmstrips. If you teach driver's education at a high school, you may also teach other subjects. Before deciding on a career as a driving instructor, remember you are deciding on a career as a teacher.

You and Driver's Education

To have a successful career as a driver's education instructor you must be an excellent, responsible, and safe driver. Educate yourself on what safe driving habits are, and then practice them whenever you are driving. Even if you don't pursue a career as a driver's education instructor, you will have become a better and safer driver.

Now, answer the following questions to see if you possess the teaching skills and qualities of a driver's education instructor. Also, give an example of a situation in your life that applies to each question and explain how you felt.

  1. Can you give instructions so that they are easily understood and followed?

  2. Are you able to assess a person's ability and give suggestions for improvement?

  3. Can you develop a well-thought-out lesson plan?

  4. Do you remain calm in tense driving situations?

  5. Do you like working with people and helping them to learn?

If your answers were "yes" and you have had good driving experiences, then a career as a driver's education instructor may be right for you.

Find Out More about Being a Driving Instructor

Find out what it is like to be a driving instructor by contacting a local driving school if you want to work for a private school. If you want to teach driver's education at a high school, talk to a high school instructor and find out what a day or a week is like in the life of a driving instructor. You may also be able to obtain helpful career information from these organizations.

  • American Automobile Association

  • National Safety Council

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