Pros and Cons of a Driving Instructor Career
As a driving instructor, you would train people on how to operate various types of motor vehicles. Consider the pros and cons before deciding to become a driving instructor.
|Pros of Being a Driving Instructor|
|Minimum educational requirement **|
|Need for driving instructors is nationwide**|
|Possible job satisfaction from teaching**|
|Cons of Being a Driving Instructor|
|Salary can be lower than the national average (which is about $39,000)***|
|Must acquire and maintain proper licensure*|
|Irregular and part-time work hours are common**|
|High accident risk (training novices to drive)**|
Sources: *State government websites as of May 2012, **Online job postings as of May 2012, ***Payscale.com.
In this role, you would provide instruction on how to drive certain kinds of motor vehicles. You would teach the manual operation of vehicles along with traffic laws and safety guidelines. Your student audience will vary with your employer and specialization, and can include high school students, commercial truck drivers or ambulance workers/drivers.
You can choose to train on non-commercial vehicles or commercial vehicles. Your specialization in non-commercial vehicles would involve providing instruction on vehicles such as cars, sports utility vehicles (SUVs), light trucks, mini-vans and motorcycles. Commercial vehicle training would cover vehicles that include diesel/tractor-trailer trucks, school buses, ambulances, government transit system passenger buses. Each states' classification system varies; however, vehicles are generally categorized by weight, passenger capacity and number of axles. They are traditionally identified through driver classes, such as 'Class A,' 'Class B' and 'Class C.'
According to PaySscale.com, as of July 2015, the salary range for driving instructors in the 10th to 90th percentile range in the U.S. was approximately $24,000-$56,000. Your specific salary will be contingent upon a variety of factors, including your geographic location, employment status and whether you work as an employee, an independent contractor or driving school owner.
What Are the Career Requirements?
Your primary requirements include a high school diploma or its equivalent, a good driving history and appropriate state licenses. While licensure requirements vary from state to state, most states typically require that you attend a state-approved, driving instructor training program. These programs are generally offered through vocational schools, government agencies, community colleges and private organizations. These training programs can last two days to a few weeks. Your coursework covers topics ranging from your state's highway transportation laws to training strategies.
To obtain a driving instructor license through your state, you usually must first obtain a personal driver's license in the driving class that you will be providing instruction on. Also, in addition to completing a state-approved training program, you typically must pass a criminal background and driving history check. After meeting eligibility requirements and submitting an application for licensure with corresponding fees, you would receive your driver's instructor license once your application has been approved by your state's governing authority.
What Employers Are Looking For
You could work for private driving schools, government agencies, insurance companies or multi-service firms. Employers are generally looking for candidates with practical work experience, appropriate licenses, good driving records, solid communications skills, multitasking skills and organizational skills. Read on for a few job listings for this field during May 2012:
- A driving school in Illinois would like to hire a driving instructor with a high school diploma and a clean driving history. A minimum of three years' experience with CDL Class A driving is also required. The successful candidate will have excellent communications skills.
- A multi-service motor vehicle corporation in Virginia is looking for a driving instructor with a valid driver's license, a high school diploma and a good driving record. You cannot have a criminal record and you must be able to pass all DMV or MVA evaluations. Solid interpersonal skills - particularly with large groups - are also required. At least six months of training or customer service experience is preferred.
- A driving school in Utah wants to hire a truck-driving instructor with at least two years of recent OTR tractor/trailer experience. You must also have a CDL Class A license. Excellent safety, organizational and communication skills are required.
How to Stand Out in the Field
If you are a single, independent contractor, you can stand out in the job market by starting a driving school. This may involve incorporating and developing your business or buying into an existing franchise. By joining national and/or regional trade associations such as the Driving School of the Americas Association (based out of Ohio) or the Driving School Association of California, you could gain networking opportunities and increased visibility.
Alternative Career Paths
Heavy Truck/Tractor-Trailer Driver
If you would like to work in the transportation industry, but want a higher earning potential, then perhaps becoming a heavy truck/tractor-trailer driver may be an option. You would transport products from one geographical location to another via commercial grade, heavy and/or tractor-trailer trucks. The BLS reports that the 2011 annual mean salary was about $40,000 with the top ten wage-earners receiving about $58,000. However, the work may be physically demanding and require that you spend days or weeks at a time on the road.
As a subway operator, your work would center on facilitating public transportation to passengers in urban and suburban areas, primarily through government transit systems. The annual mean salary was approximately $59,000 in 2011, according to the BLS. However, possible irregular work hours (e.g. weekends, holidays, late nights) based on subway schedules is standard. There are also limited locales where this job is available.