What Is a Driving School Instructor?

Explore the career requirements for driving school instructors. Get the facts about education and licensure requirements, salary, and potential job growth to determine if this is the right career for you. Schools offering Driver Training degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Driving School Instructor?

Driving school instructors teach motor vehicle operation, road rules, and safe driving practices. When teaching individuals who are looking to get their first driver's license, they cover a wide range of topics, ranging from the parts of the automobile to avoiding road rage, often through a combination of lectures and textbook readings, as well as hands-on driving preparation. Because driving laws vary between states, the content of the courses they teach may vary. In addition to courses that prepare students to get a standard driver's license, driving school instructors might also offer courses that prepare students to get licenses for other types of vehicles, such as heavy trucks, buses or motorcycles.

The following chart gives you an overview of what you need to know about entering this field.

Education Required High school diploma;
Bachelor's degree may be required
Key Responsibilities Develop and design lesson plans
Classroom instruction
Monitor student performance
Licensure/Certification State license or certification usually required
Job Outlook (2014-2024) 15% (for all self-enrichment education teachers)*
Average Salary (2015) $42,350 (for all self-enrichment education teachers)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Driving School Instructors

As a driving school instructor, you teach students motor vehicle operation, road rules and safe driving practices. You may teach different types of lessons based on what students you are teaching. For example, if you are teaching new drivers, you will cover the basics of driving, but if you are teaching drivers who are pursuing a Commercial Driver's License (CDL), you will teach them about driving heavy trucks.

You develop lesson plans, design curriculum, assess student's class work and driving abilities, maintain the driver's education vehicle, teach in a classroom and provide driving lessons on the road. During class, you may also instruct students on the basic operation of a vehicle, road laws, defensive driving techniques and minor car maintenance. On the road, you monitor a student's driving, offering advice and assistance as needed to help the students develop their driving skills.

Employment

Your opportunities as a driving instructor include teaching in high schools and privately-owned driving schools. In high schools, your job is restricted to teaching new drivers. In privately owned driving schools, you may teach new drivers, commercial drivers or drivers required by law to take a driving course. As an instructor in a driving school, depending on what students you are teaching, you may teach classes that focus on one topic, such as defensive driving or road laws.

Training

Formal training is not always required to be a driving school instructor. Some schools may require formal training through a driver's training instructor course. In some high schools, you may be required to hold a teaching license and, therefore, may be required to have a bachelor's degree in education.

Professional driving instructor courses may be available through private schools or through organizations, such as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Courses may cover driver safety, defensive driving, auto maintenance and methods of teaching.

Licensing and Certification

Most states require some type of professional license or certification for driving instructors. For example, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation notes that you need a Driving School Instructor Certificate (www.mass.gov). To obtain a certificate, you need to meet age and experience requirements, pass criminal and driving records checks, have a high school diploma and complete training. You must also pass the Professional Driver Instructor's Exam with a score of at least a 90% to pass the exam.

In Washington State, according to the State Department of Licensing, you need to have had a driver's license for two years, pass an exam, have a high school diploma and pass a background check (www.dol.wa.gov). You must also meet training requirements set by state law.

In New Hampshire, you must have a high school diploma, complete training and meet experience requirements (www.nh.gov). You must also pass a road test, written exam and physical examination.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Instead of becoming a driving school instructor, you could become a teacher in a different subject. For instance, you could become a high school teacher specializing in a particular academic subject, like history, biology or English. In order to work in a public school, you would need to earn a bachelor's degree and pass a licensure exam. Another option is to become a technical educator. In this position, you would teach courses that prepare students for specific careers, such as hospitality or construction. These instructors typically have a bachelor's degree, as well as experience in the industry that their courses cover.

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