HOW TO BECOME A DRIVING INSTRUCTOR

Becoming a driving instructor can be very demanding; you will have to work hard, train and prepare for tests. However, before this you will need to decide if you will be a good driving instructor, and if it will ultimately fit into your lifestyle.

Being a driving instructor won't be a Monday to Friday 9-5 job. Beyond this, it may just cut into your weekend, your evenings and possibly your personal life, so be prepared. Once you have paid for the exams and passed them it will probably be a career you will have to be willing to work in for at least the next five years. Being a driving instructor is more of a career and profession than just a job, so make sure its right for you before jumping into it.

Person Specification

Although many say that anyone could be a driving instructor it does take certain personality traits for you to become a good driving instructor. Firstly you will be training to become an instructor so you will have to be very hard working; this will take perseverance and determination. You will be spending a large sum of money on this training; therefore you won't want to let this go to waste. Talk to other driving instructors and find out what personality traits they hold and what type of dedication it takes to pass the exams. No doubt they will tell you that it's hard, but as long as you're ready and willing for the knock backs then you're already half way there.

Secondly you will constantly have to be alert and aware. As a driving instructor you will have no second chances. You will be instructing people who are completely new to driving so you are initially their eyes and ears too. You will have to be focussed and confident so that you can instruct this person and teach them something which may be completely new to them. Not everybody is a good teacher; it takes a lot to teach somebody, but if you feel as though you have the patience and knowledge then it could well be your career.

"If you have come from a teacher or training background this would be an advantage. However it is not a necessity, as most driving instructor packages start from the basics" Danny Knight, Director of Recruitment, DITC (www.ditc.co.uk)

Once you've passed the exams and become an ADI (an Approved Driving Instructor) you will need to think about the kind of teacher your pupils will want and what type of teacher you will be. Remember back to when you where a learner and what worked best for you. Was it the uptight driving instructor who always shouted at you when you stalled the car, or was it the patient, friendly one who helped you pass your test? I'm hoping it was the latter as these are the personality traits you will need to be successful as a driving instructor. New drivers are usually nervous so they need a confident instructor to reassure them their driving skills will improve. It can take drivers 10 to 100's of lessons to pass their test; so you will have to be patient. You won't be able to take your personal life out on them, neither will you be able to shout at them because you're tired and they're making the same mistakes over and over again. They will be paying good money for you to teach them, so you will have to be patient and teach them, even if it takes ten lessons just to get the car moving.

As well as this you will need to have a good sense of humour and be friendly and professional with all your students. Students will not be bound to you, so you will almost be selling your services every time they get in the car. They have every right or ability not to use you as a driving instructor if they don't get on with you, or feel as though you're not teaching them fairly. This is not to say you should be over friendly or let anyone take advantage of you, but if it's in your nature to be chatty and friendly then use this to your advantage while you're working. If one student likes you they may tell a friend, and word of mouth is the best form of advertising.

"You have to enjoy yourself and have fun, that's one of the key things about being a driving Instructor" Stuart Robinson, Head of Recruitment, Surepass Driving School (www.surepassinstructortraining.com)

Remember

If you want to be a driving instructor you will have to be:

• Hardworking and dedicated to pass the exams
• Be alert and aware for your students
• Be a good teacher
• Be friendly and professional

Being your own boss

One factor that all driving instructors benefit from is that they're technically their own boss. This can have many advantages and disadvantages.

Being your own boss allows you flexibility in everything from how many hours you work to how many pupils you take on. You may not be a morning person and would prefer to start work at 10am instead of 7am, being your own boss you could work your pupils around this. However you will have to be careful that your flexibility isn't your downfall. The more students you take on and the more hours you work the more you will get paid, so don't be lazy about it, use your flexibility to suit you, and don't let it affect your wages at the end of the month.

You may be the type of person who prefers working for themselves. A lot of people feel claustrophobic working for a big organisation with lots of rules and want to go it alone. However others strive on rules and work better with certain schemes in place, allowing them to develop and grow in a company. Being a driving instructor, even if you are working as part of a big driving school, you will, on a day to day basis, be working on your own. So make sure your comfortable with this before you decide it's the right career option for you.

Being your own boss means you make the decisions and nobody can tell you what to do. This will be great if you are assertive and very motivated, but others find it hard to motivate themselves. You will be responsible for everything, especially if it's your own business, so right down to the advertising, generating business for yourself and looking after your bookings and money. If any problems occur you will be the one who has to deal with them and solve them, which can sometimes be hard; especially if you break down and have a full day of lessons ahead of you.

Ask yourself if you're ready for this. Being a driving instructor isn't just about teaching and knowing about driving, but also sometimes about business skills and how to develop your skill into a great business, and ultimately a career for you. If you're still unsure if running your own business and working on our own is the right option for you then it may be a good idea to take a business course. Business Link run many free business courses, log on to www.businesslink.gov.uk to find out more. Alternatively we also have CD ROMs about become an entrepreneur.

Remember:

• You'll be working on your own; so make sure you're prepared for this.
• Being your own boss gives your flexibility; use this as a positive thing; don't let it be your downfall.
• You will be responsible for everything; success and failure so be prepared to work hard if you want to succeed.
• If you're still unsure take a business course.

A Career Change
"I became a driving instructor as a career change, having previously worked in the music industry. When I worked in the music industry it soon became clear to me that I would need a career that offered more security and a guaranteed income, whilst still working for myself; this is why I chose to become a driving instructor." Lindon Trotman, ADI, Fifth Gear Driving School (www.fifthgeardriver.co.uk )

Many people who train to become a driving instructor come to it as a change of career. Some have been lorry drivers, been in the army or even been teachers. Whatever you have come to it from remember it will be very different to your previous career, whatever it may have been. Even if you have driven as a profession, or taught as a profession; being a driving instructor will be very different.

If you have previously worked in an office environment, being a driving instructor will be somewhat different to what you've been used to. There will no longer be a computer to sit in front of, email to hide behind and a cosy canteen to have an hour's lunch break in. Instead you will be constantly in the car, meeting new people face to face, on a daily basis, using your skills, knowledge and personality to teach them a skill which most of your students will not have experience of.

If this seems a little daunting then maybe becoming a driving instructor is not for you. However if you are excited about the prospect of meeting new people and learning a new profession then good luck with learning to become a driving instructor.



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