How Can I Become a Driver's Ed Instructor?

The requirements and process for becoming a driver's ed instructor vary by state. Read on to learn more about common qualifications, where you could work, typical job responsibilities and earning potential. Schools offering Teaching & Learning degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Qualifications Do Driver's Ed Instructors Need?

To become a driver's education instructor, you need to have a high school diploma, a valid driver's license, a comprehensive knowledge of your state's traffic laws, a clean driving record and no criminal record. Beyond that baseline, there is no standardized training program for driver's ed instructors. Each state has its own requirements.

For instance, would-be instructors in Massachusetts must complete a 65-hour Driving Instructor Training Course and pass a 100-question exam with a 90% or better score. California requires instructors to have an instructor license, which entails completing a 60-hour course and passing an examination. Michigan requires completion of an accredited driving instructor training program.

Community colleges and 4-year institutions across the U.S. offer training courses for driving instructors designed to meet the requirements of the states where the schools are located. Topics covered in a program may include in-vehicle and classroom instruction methods, basic maneuvers and vehicle operation, vehicle care, adolescent development, traffic laws and substance abuse.

Where Could I Work?

You are most likely to find employment at a public high school or a commercial driving school, although some instructors are self-employed. Driver's ed instructors at public secondary schools are often licensed teachers. You may also be employed at a private driving school.

The National Center for Education Statistics (nces.ed.gov) reported that there were 29,971 public high schools in the U.S. during the 2008-2009 school year. The Driving School Association of the Americas, Inc., (www.thedsaa.org) represents over 8,000 private driving schools, as well as 50,000 driver's ed instructors.

Statistics were not available on the number of driving instructors employed by either public high schools or private driving schools, nor were there any projections on employment growth. General population growth should contribute to greater demand for instructor services, however.

What Will My Job Duties Be?

Using a combination of classroom and practical instruction, you will teach students to operate a vehicle lawfully and safely. Classroom instruction is likely to touch on auto mechanics, common malfunctions, state traffic laws and interpreting road conditions. Road instruction covers the instrument panel, starting, stopping, steering, driving in reverse, parking, city and highway driving and emergency maneuvers. During this phase you will monitor how well student drivers perform a given maneuver, stop the vehicle before accidents occur and provide feedback on areas where they need to improve. Periodically, you may administer practice tests to prepare students for their written license exam.

What Salary Could I Earn?

According to PayScale.com, as of February 2011 you could earn a salary in the middle range of $24,212-$35,505. Instructor earnings in Wisconsin were relatively low at $20,800-$28,579 while instructor earnings in Maryland were relatively high at $30,035-$40,560. Illinois instructors earned in a wider range, from $19,073-$41,953.

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