Certified Driving Instructor Certification and Career

Research what it takes to become a certified driving instructor. Explore the certification process, job requirements, training process, and career outlook to determine if this is the career for you. Schools offering Driver Training degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Certified Driving Instructor?

Driving instructors teach individuals how to operate motor vehicles; they can become certified by passing a state-sanctioned training program. Courses are most often created for adolescents who want to get a license to operate a standard vehicle, but courses are also available for adults. In addition, some instructors offer courses in operating non-standard vehicles, like heavy trucks, buses and motorcycles. When teaching driver's education courses, instructors employ a mix of classroom coursework and hands-on training behind the wheel. Topics of study may vary based on specific state laws, but they typically cover many topics, including rules of the road, motor vehicle maintenance and vehicle registration.

The chart below gives you an overview of information about this field.

Training Required Varies by state, training programs prepare students for a certification exam
Key Skills Teaching strategies, hazardous driving conditions, driver assessment techniques
Licensure Required Valid driver's license, good driving record; may require a background check and health report
Job Outlook (2014-2024)* 15% (all self-enrichment education teachers)
Median Salary (2015)** $41,580 (all driving instructors)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **Payscale.com

What Certifications Are Required For Driving Instructors?

Driving instructor certification processes are determined according to state rules; the process differs depending upon your location. In general, a qualified candidate can enroll in a training program that prepares him or her to take a driving instructor certification exam. Upon successful completion of the exam, students obtain either a provisional or standard certificate. Earning a provisional certificate may allow you to work as an instructor at a private driving institution or at a high school. After completing a period of successful instruction that could last from 2-5 years, you might apply for the standard certificate, which may allow you to operate your own driving school.

What Are Some Driving Instructor Requirements?

In order to pursue training as a driving instructor, you'll need a valid automobile, motorcycle or truck license, depending on the type of vehicle you'd like to teach students how to drive. Additionally, you may need to pass a background check and have a driving record with minimal infractions. A health report from a physician may also be required. In some cases, you'll need a bachelor's degree in order to apply for a preliminary or standard certificate.

What Training Will A Driving Instructor Pursue?

Training programs are generally certified by the Secretary of State; they may be offered through driving schools and colleges. Most include courses on teaching strategies, current driver regulations, driver assessment techniques, hazardous driving conditions and simulation methods. Some programs include courses on first aid, defensive driving, learning theory, vehicle maintenance and the effects of drugs and alcohol. Most driving instructor certification programs can be completed in a few months.

How Much Could I Earn?

Driving instructors may find employment through private driving schools or through school districts as driver education teachers. According to Payscale.com, most driving instructors earned an annual salary between $25,081 and $56,087 in 2017.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Instead of becoming a driving instructor, you could get a job as a driver yourself. For instance, as a local transit bus driver, you would drive a bus carrying commuters short distances in and around cities and suburbs, making frequent stops and collecting passenger fares. This job requires a high school diploma. Alternatively, you could become a heavy truck driver, which involves driving trucks that weigh over 26,000 pounds in order to transport goods between cities that are far apart. For this job, you need to have a high school diploma and complete a professional training program.

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