Everyone who has learnt to drive or taken driving lessons remembers their driving instructor. They are the ones who set you on your first steps to getting on the open road. But have you ever wondered what it would be like to actually become a driving instructor?
Well, thousands of people have and thousands more are keen to get their hands on the steering wheel. With more than 1.6 million driving tests held each year, the demand for new instructors is there - so if you have the time, patience, skill and concentration, and are competent enough to teach other people to learn to drive, then perhaps you should consider this as a career.
What is it?
Becoming a driving instructor is not all it seems. You can’t simply get into a car and drive off into the sunset. There is a lot that must happen behind the scenes before you can start taking pupils out on the road and teaching them all they need to know.
To become an advanced driving instructor, or ADI,you have to pass a three-stage exam, take in a lot of literature, undertake lots of hard work and tough decisions, and part with a significant amount of cash.
To start earning money, there are two routes you can go down, so to speak. You can choose to start out on your own, or you can train with and sign up to a pre-established franchise that already has a register of pupils, contacts and trainers. In both cases you are self-employed, but with varying degrees of individuality and support.
A franchise-based company will offer training; however, it will charge a fee (usually a percentage of the lessons they have booked on your behalf or a fixed sum). Heading out on you own, on the other hand, can be a lonely business - but also one that you control.
Your choice will probably depend on whether this a career change or career start, as well as your individual personality and business acumen.
Who is it suited to?
In addition to the training and qualification requirements, you have to bear in mind issues of character and outlook – the personal qualities needed to become a driving instructor are just as important as the technical ones.
This profession is open to all, but often lends itself to fresh starters and more practically minded workers. Nick Zapettis, of Driving Instructor Services, sees various kinds of people enter the profession, but has noticed a few common threads.
“Because of the requirement to have held a full driving licence for at least four years before you can register as an instructor, this is not a job that is suitable to school leavers. It is more appropriate for those people who fancy a change of direction. For example, ex members of the armed forces, retired police force personnel, people who have been made redundant or perhaps bus or lorry drivers who are tired of going away from home and want a more permanent business.”
However, as much as it is open to all, there are several characteristics that are crucial to the job. You have to be willing to work hard during exams and training, and you must apply your skills and knowledge via carefully constructed lessons, in an approachable and amicable manner.
Zapettis believes interpersonal and communication skills far outweigh the more technical areas. “The examinations and technical issues are important but are not really the issue; it is the ability to empathise and get on with your pupils and create a lasting relationship that is of vital importance. For example, you can have a technically brilliant person but one who is not a people person or well liked by the pupil.”
A healthy sense of humour, patience and product knowledge are also vital as each pupil has a different character and personality, so there will be a new challenge on a daily basis. One lesson may be with a slower learner ,but the next may be with a 17-year old who is eager to get some wheels and hit the road.
** image courtesy of markhillary on Flickr **