Automobile Driving Instructor
Automobile Driving Instructor
Education and Training Varies—see profile
Salary Varies—see profile
Employment Outlook Good
Definition and Nature of the Work
Through a combination of classroom instruction and on-the-road practice, driving instructors prepare students for the exams they must pass to get their driver's permits and licenses. They teach students to operate vehicles and instill respect for state driving laws and parking regulations.
Driving instructors work in two kinds of schools: public high schools that offer courses in driver education and commercial driving schools open to the general public.
High schools offer driver education as an elective course for their sophomore or junior students. The course includes thirty hours of classroom study, which cover state laws and regulations and safe-driving practices. Students also observe another driver for six hours and practice driving for six hours with a licensed driver.
Some high schools offer adult driving classes in the evening. Instructors may teach others subjects as well.
Instructors who work for commercial schools generally teach driving full time. Their students are either adults or older teenagers. Typical courses include eight hours in the classroom combined with driving practice under the instructors' supervision.
Instructors in both types of schools teach driving in the same way. Students first learn about cars' instrument panels, the correct way to sit for driving, and how to use different controls. If students plan to drive cars with standard transmissions, they learn to use the gears and clutch before they begin driving. On the road students learn to park, turn, brake, and stop.
Instructors may administer practice exams to prepare students for the written tests they will be taking at the department of motor vehicles. They also provide feedback on student drivers' ability, pointing out skills they should practice before their final driving tests.
Education and Training Requirements
Driving instructors must have finished high school and be at least twenty-one years old. They must be excellent drivers and have good driving records. In most states, they must have special licenses or certificates to teach driver education.
Some community colleges offer associate degrees for teachers of driver education. A minimum of thirty hours of classroom study is combined with on-the-job training, during which supervisors accompany trainees for their first few lessons. Some commercial driving schools charge fees to those who are training to be instructors, while other schools require trainees to work for free. High school driving instructors must have college degrees and be certified by the state in driver instruction.
Getting the Job
Local or state boards of education list openings in high school programs. Those who want to become commercial driving instructors should call local commercial schools. School placement services, newspaper classified ads, or Internet job sites may provide employment leads.
Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook
Part-time high school instructors can become full-time instructors and then directors of their programs. Instructors who want to be directors of commercial driving schools need advanced education in business and safety education. With experience and business training, some driving instructors open their own schools.
Employment of driving instructors is expected to increase as fast as the average for all jobs through 2014. Commercial schools, which are increasing in number, offer the best opportunities for instructors.
Classrooms are usually clean and comfortable. However, on-the-road instruction can be stressful because instructors are responsible for beginning drivers who are operating machinery that can be dangerous. High school driving instructors follow the regular school schedule, while instructors in commercial schools arrange their own hours.
Earnings and Benefits
Salaries for commercial driving instructors vary by school. Most earn a percentage of what their students pay, so their earnings vary with the number of students. Some are paid salaries plus commissions. In 2004 the average salary of commercial driving instructors ranged from $14 to $19 per hour.
High school driving instructors are paid according to their schools' salary schedules, which can vary by size of school district and location. In 2004 the median salary of high school teachers ranged from $41,400 to $45,920 per year.
Where to Go for More Information
American Driver and Traffic Safety Education Association
Indiana University of Pennsylvania, R & P Bldg.
Indiana, PA 15705
Driving School Association of the Americas, Inc.
3090 E. Gause Blvd., Ste. 425
Slidell, LA 70461
Benefits for commercial instructors vary according to the size, location, and policies of the companies. Some may get no benefits at all. High school driving instructors can expect paid vacations and holidays, health insurance, and retirement plans.