How to Become a Driving Instructor in 5 Steps

Driving instructors train people to safely operate motor vehicles. Discover the prerequisites and education and licensure requirements for driving instructors. Schools offering Teaching & Learning degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Driving Instructor?

A driving instructor is a professional who teaches people how to operate specific kinds of motor vehicles and educates them on traffic laws and safety protocols. Depending on your specialty, you can provide training on vehicles ranging from cars to diesel trucks. To begin working with the public, instructors must be certified through their state's department of motor vehicles.

Step 1: Meet Minimum State Prerequisites

Before attending a driving instructor-training program, most states require you to have a high school diploma or GED. Additionally, many states have a minimum age requirement, such as being 19 years old for classroom teaching and 21 years old for behind-the-wheel training. A valid personal driver's license and driving experience are other necessities, but the number of years of experience can vary by state.

Step 2: Choose a Specialization

After meeting the education and experience requirements, you can decide if you want to teach non-commercial or commercial vehicle driving. Examples of non-commercial vehicles include standard cars, mini-vans, sports utility vehicles (SUVs), light trucks, motorcycles and mopeds. Commercial vehicles consist of passenger buses, diesel trucks and ambulances.

Your choice of specialization - which is identified by state driver classes/vehicle types - will determine the kind of training program you choose and which driver's license is required before beginning your instructor's training program. For example, if you would like to be a school bus driving instructor, you may be required to have a commercial driver's license for school buses before attending an instructor's program.

Step 3: Get Trained

Driving instructor-training programs are offered at colleges, vocational schools and government agencies. They may be offered online or on-campus. The duration of your training program will vary with your specialization, with some ranging from two days to a couple weeks. Generally, your curriculum may consist of instruction on your state's highway transportation laws and protocols, strategies for training novices versus experienced drivers and developing lesson plans. To avoid instructor-licensing issues, contact your state's motor vehicle agency to find out what instructor schools are approved by your state.

Step 4: Acquire an Instructor's License

Generally, you would submit an application for licensure and pay any corresponding fees. You would also have to submit high school diploma or GED documentation, show your driver's license and complete an approved training program. Other common state requirements include a criminal background check and driving-record check. Licensure is given once your state's governing authority approves your application.

Step 5: Obtain Work Experience

As a driving instructor, you can work as an independent contractor or employee for groups, such as driver-training schools, government agencies, public schools and vehicle insurance companies. Your student types will vary with your specialization, ranging from high school students to ambulance drivers.

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