Driving instructor

A driving instructor and his student


Driving instructors teach people the theory and practice on how to operate a vehicle safely and according to regulations. They assist students in developing the skills needed to drive and prepare them for the driving theory and the driving examination. They may also supervise driving examinations.

Excludes people performing the instruction of occupational drivers.

The duties of a driving instructor include, but are not limited to:

  • Teaching new drivers how to operate a vehicle safely and responsibly by following rules of the road and traffic laws
  • Preparing students for driving tests by reviewing road signs, rules of the road, and other topics related to driving safety
  • Providing feedback to students on their performance during lessons, and making adjustments to their technique as needed
  • Helping students develop good driving habits by pointing out their mistakes and correcting them
  • Assessing students’ suitability for driving, including their mental and physical abilities, personality, and attitude towards driving
  • Demonstrating how to use a variety of vehicle controls, including brakes, turn signals, gas pedals, and steering wheels
  • Explaining how different weather conditions can affect driving conditions
  • Reviewing driving records and recommending courses of action to students who may have problems with their driving privileges
  • Teaching students about safe driving practices, including defensive driving techniques and accident prevention measures such as wearing seat belts correctly and obeying speed limits

Other titles

The following job titles also refer to driving instructor:

driving educator
teacher of driving
instructor in driving
learner driver instructor
driving trainer
teacher of learner drivers

Working conditions

Driving instructors typically work a 40-hour week, although they may work evenings and weekends to accommodate their students’ schedules. They work in a variety of settings, including offices, classrooms, driving simulators, and behind the wheel of a vehicle. They may also travel to different locations to give lessons. The work can be stressful, as instructors must be constantly alert and aware of their students’ driving skills and mistakes. They must also be able to effectively communicate with their students and provide constructive feedback.

Most driving instructors are self-employed, although some of them may be employed by driving schools.

Minimum qualifications

Most driving instructors have at least a high school diploma. Some employers prefer to hire instructors who have a bachelor’s degree in education, kinesiology or another related field.

Many instructors choose to earn a master’s degree in education to increase their earning potential and qualify for higher-paying positions.

In many countries or states, a valid driving instructor’s license is required to become a driving instructor. The license depends on the driving instructor role candidates apply for (example: a license that allows to teach a certain number of students). To get it, candidates must attend a training typically offered by driving schools. This training teach them how to teach students and how to use the materials they will need, such as a whiteboard and a car.

Driving instructors must have a valid driver’s license for the level at which they want to teach. Depending on the jurisdictions where the candidates apply, they may be subject to additional requirement, such as a clear driving record or a clear criminal record.

ISCO skill level

ISCO skill level is defined as a function of the complexity and range of tasks and duties to be performed in an occupation. It is measured on a scale from 1 to 4, with 1 the lowest level and 4 the highest, by considering:

  • the nature of the work performed in an occupation in relation to the characteristic tasks and duties
  • the level of formal education required for competent performance of the tasks and duties involved and
  • the amount of informal on-the-job training and/or previous experience in a related occupation required for competent performance of these tasks and duties.

Driving instructor is a Skill level 2 occupation.

Driving instructor career path

Similar occupations

These occupations, although different, require a lot of knowledge and skills similar to driving instructor.

bus driving instructor
car driving instructor
motorcycle instructor
truck driving instructor
cargo vehicle driver

Long term prospects

These occupations require some skills and knowledge of driving instructor. They also require other skills and knowledge, but at a higher ISCO skill level, meaning these occupations are accessible from a position of driving instructor with a significant experience and/or extensive training.

vessel steering instructor
outdoor activities instructor
lifeguard instructor
first aid instructor
flight instructor

Essential knowledge and skills

Essential knowledge

This knowledge should be acquired through learning to fulfill the role of driving instructor.

Essential skills and competences

These skills are necessary for the role of driving instructor.

  • Guarantee students’ safety: Ensure all students falling under an instructor or other person’s supervision are safe and accounted for. Follow safety precautions in the learning situation.
  • Control the performance of the vehicle: Understand and anticipate the performance and behaviour of a vehicle. Comprehend concepts such as lateral stability, acceleration, and braking distance.
  • Monitor developments in field of expertise: Keep up with new research, regulations, and other significant changes, labour market related or otherwise, occurring within the field of specialisation.
  • Drive vehicles: Be able to drive vehicles; have the approapriate type of driving license according to the type of motor vehicle used.
  • Observe student’s progress: Follow up on students’ learning progress and assess their achievements and needs.
  • Show consideration for student’s situation: Take students’ personal backgrounds into consideration when teaching, showing empathy and respect.
  • Diagnose problems with vehicles: Diagnose issues with vehicles and assess the efforts and costs required to resolve them.
  • Adapt teaching to student’s capabilities: Identify the learning struggles and successes of students. Select teaching and learning strategies that support students’ individual learning needs and goals.
  • Apply teaching strategies: Employ various approaches, learning styles, and channels to instruct students, such as communicating content in terms they can understand, organising talking points for clarity, and repeating arguments when necessary. Use a wide range of teaching devices and methodologies appropriate to the class content, the learners’ level, goals, and priorities.
  • Adapt to new technology used in cars: Adapt to new technology integrated in cars; understand systems operation and provide troubleshooting.
  • Ensure vehicle operability: Keep the vehicle clean and in roadworthy condition. Ensure regular maintenance of the vehicle and provide valid official documents such as licenses and permits where appropriate.
  • Teach driving practices: Instruct students in the practice of driving a vehicle such as a bus, taxi, truck, motorcycle or tractor safely, practice mechanical operation on roads with little traffic, and promote an anticipatory way of driving. Recognise the student’s difficulties and repeat the learning steps until the student feels at ease. Plan routes on different types of roads, during rush hour or at night.
  • Give constructive feedback: Provide founded feedback through both criticism and praise in a respectful, clear, and consistent manner. Highlight achievements as well as mistakes and set up methods of formative assessment to evaluate work.
  • Interpret traffic signals: Observe lights on the road, road conditions, nearby traffic, and prescribed speed limits to ensure safety. Interpret traffic signals and act accordingly.
  • Park vehicles: Park motorised vehicles without compromising the integrity of vehicles and safety of people.
  • Ensure vehicles are equipped with accessibility equipment: Ensure that the vehicle is equipped with accessibility equipment such as passenger lift, seat belts, restraining harnesses, and wheelchair clamps or webbing straps.
  • Assist students in their learning: Support and coach students in their work, give learners practical support and encouragement.
  • Encourage students to acknowledge their achievements: Stimulate students to appreciate their own achievements and actions to nurture confidence and educational growth.
  • Perform defensive driving: Drive defensively to maximise road safety and save time, money, and lives; anticipate the actions of other road users.

Optional knowledge and skills

Optional knowledge

This knowledge is sometimes, but not always, required for the role of driving instructor. However, mastering this knowledge allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • Physical parts of the vessel: Detailed knowledge of the different physical components of the vessel. Provide maintenance and care to ensure optimal operations.
  • Customer service: Processes and principles related to the customer, client, service user and to personal services; these may include procedures to evaluate customer’s or service user’s satisfaction.
  • Car controls: The functioning of specific car equipment such as how to operate and handle the clutch, throttle, lighting, instrumentation, transmission and the brakes.
  • Operation of different engines: Know the characteristics, maintenance requirements and operating procedures of various kinds of engines such as gas, diesel, electrical, and engines with steam propulsion plants.
  • Mechanics of vessels: The mechanics involved in boats and ships. Understand the technicalities and participate in discussions over related topics in order to solve problems related to the mechanics.
  • Vessel fuels: Know and understand characteristics of fuels and lubricants, and the fuel loading specifications of various types of vessels.
  • Types of vehicles: Field of information which distinguishes rental agency classification systems, containing types and classes of vehicles and their functioning and components.
  • Adult education: Instruction targeted at adult students, both in a recreational and in an academic context, for self-improvement purposes, or to better equip the students for the labour market.
  • Types of maritime vessels: Know a large variety of maritime vessels and their characteristics and specifications. Use that knowledge to ensure that all security, technical, and maintenance measures are taken into account in their supply.
  • Learning difficulties: The learning disorders some students face in an academic context, especially Specific Learning Difficulties such as dyslexia, dyscalculia, and concentration deficit disorders.
  • Vessel electrical system: The various components making up a vessel electrical system and the interplay between these components.
  • Driving examinations: The components, regulations, and properties of theoretical and practical driving tests.
  • Mechanics of motor vehicles: The way energy forces interact and affect components in motor vehicles such as cars, buses, invalid carriages and other motorised vehicles.
  • Vessel stability principles: Thoroughly understand the principles of vessel stability; follow safety requirements during loading and unloading of cargo.
  • Types of vehicle engines: Types of car engines in road and racing cars, inclusing those with emerging technologies like Hybrids and electric motors, and how they work.
  • Vessel safety equipment: Gain theoretical and practical knowledge of safety equipment used in vessels, including devices such as lifeboats, life rings, splash doors and fire doors, sprinkler systems, etc. Operate equipment during emergency situations.
  • Fishing vessels: Denomination of the different elements and equipment of fishing vessels.
  • Driver’s license structure: The different types of driver’s licenses, the procedures for obtaining them, and which vehicles may be driven holding each type. Any special conditions or responsibilities tied to a driver’s license.
  • Mechanics: Theoretical and practical applications of the science studying the action of displacements and forces on physical bodies to the development of machinery and mechanical devices.
  • Engine components: Know the different engine components, and their operation and maintenance. Understand when repairs and replacement should be undertaken.

Optional skills and competences

These skills and competences are sometimes, but not always, required for the role of driving instructor. However, mastering these skills and competences allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • Drive automatic car: Drive a vehicle operated under an automatic, or self-shifting, transmission system safely and according to regulations.
  • Use water navigation devices: Utilise water navigation devices, e.g. compass or sextant, or navigational aids such as lighthouses or buoys, radar, satellite, and computer systems, in order to navigate vessels on waterways. Work with recent charts/maps, notices, and publications in order to determine the precise position of a vessel.
  • Drive in urban areas: Drive vehicles in urban areas. Interpret and understand transit signs in a city, the regulation of traffic, and the related common automobility agreements in an urban area.
  • Read maps: Read maps effectively.
  • Take over pedal control: Use an additional instructor’s brake, gas or clutch pedal, placed at the passenger seat in a vehicle, in order to overrule the driver’s pedals and take control.
  • Manoeuvre bus: Drive a bus in reverse and make turns.
  • Assess students: Evaluate the students’ (academic) progress, achievements, course knowledge and skills through assignments, tests, and examinations. Diagnose their needs and track their progress, strengths, and weaknesses. Formulate a summative statement of the goals the student achieved.
  • Manoeuvre heavy trucks: Drive, manoeuvre and park tractors, trailers and lorries on roads, around tight corners, and in parking spaces.
  • Inspect vessel: Inspect vessels to ensure their effective and safe operation. Keep the vessel and its equipment in conformance to regulations.
  • Write work-related reports: Compose work-related reports that support effective relationship management and a high standard of documentation and record keeping. Write and present results and conclusions in a clear and intelligible way so they are comprehensible to a non-expert audience.
  • Operate gps systems: Use GPS Systems.
  • Conduct water navigation: Ensure that a vessel carries up to date and adequate charts and appropriate nautical documents. Lead the process of preparing the voyage report, the vessel passage plan, daily position reports, and the pilot’s information sheet.
  • Demonstrate when teaching: Present to others examples of your experience, skills, and competences that are appropriate to specific learning content to help students in their learning.
  • Teach driving theory: Use didactic ways to educate on road traffic laws, on the appropriate driving behaviour, on authorisation requirements for vehicles and trailers, on the operation of different types of vehicles, and on the dangers of road travel.
  • Anticipate change in car technology: Stay up-to-date with latest trends in car technology and anticipate change in the field.
  • Use geographic memory: Use your memory of geographic surroundings and detail in navigation.
  • Provide lesson materials: Ensure that the necessary materials for teaching a class, such as visual aids, are prepared, up-to-date, and present in the instruction space.
  • Apply health and safety standards: Adhere to standards of hygiene and safety established by respective authorities.
  • Drive two-wheeled vehicles: Drive two-wheeled vehicles such as bicycles and motorcycles for the performance of different tasks relating to the transportation of goods and passengers.
  • Operate an emergency communication system: Efficiently operate common communication systems used in emergencies, such as base station mobile transmitters and receivers, portable transmitters and receivers, repeaters, cellular phones, pagers, automated vehicle locators, and satellite phones as required.

ISCO group and title

5165 – Driving instructors

  1. Driving instructor – ESCO
  2. Driving instructor | Explore careers – National Careers Service
  3. Driving Instructor – Job Role – Careers Wales
  4. Driving Instructor Job Description: Salary, Duties, & More – Climb the Ladder
  5. Featured image: Photo by Orkun Azap on Unsplash
Last updated on November 15, 2022

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