How to Become a Defensive Driving Instructor

Salary, Qualifications, Training

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Defensive driving instructors provide a necessary service to drivers. Defensive driving classes teach a style of driving designed to protect yourself and other drivers on the road from dangerous driving practices. Classes in defensive driving are offered all over the country. People take defensive driving classes for a discount on their car insurance, to wipe out a traffic ticket, or as part of a basic driver's education.

Want to know how to become a defensive driving instructor? This article will tell you what training and courses you need to take, how much money you can make teaching defensive driving, and the steps and qualifications needed to become a defensive driving instructor.

Salary and Potential Income for Defensive Driving Instructors

How to Become a Defensive Driving InstructorLike any position in education, the salary and potential income for defensive driving instructors depends on where you teach and how often you work. In California alone 1.5 million people took a defensive driving course in 2010. There's always a need for defensive driving classes, and your income depends on what part of the country you work in and how many classes you teach.

For example, if you teach defensive driving in a large urban area, like Denver or Dallas, you will have the opportunity to teach multiple defensive driving classes per week. Income earned by defensive driving instructors fluctuates based on the region you work in, so the amount you earn per course fluctuates widely. Some areas of the country have defensive driving agencies that pay their instructors a percentage of the money earned by the class, while some defensive driving instructors work for themselves and earn as much as they charge per student per class.

A good average salary for a defensive driving instructor is about $40,000 a year. That number requires an instructor to work more than one day a week and have a steady flow of students. If you work more or less, you'll earn more or less money.

What Classes and Training Do I Need to Become a Defensive Driving Instructor?

Each state has an education agency that handles the details of classes and training for defensive driving instructors. To find out the specific classes and training needed to teach defensive driving in your state, contact your state's education agency. You'll have to locate your own state-approved course providers to certify you to teach traffic violator school.

You should have a relatively clean driving record. A speeding ticket here and there isn't the end of the world, but you should first verify with your state's DMV or DOT to ensure that your driving record won't keep you from certifying as a defensive driving instructor.

Once you find a state-approved certification school, you must enroll and secure a signed notarized document from the school verifying your enrollment and completion of the program. With that in hand go online and fill out the defensive driver instructor application for your state.

Part of your training as a defensive driving instructor is to submit to a full background check and fingerprinting as well as filing a photograph of yourself, all for state records. Most states also require a clean drug screening with certified results.

Once you complete the basic certification training to teach defensive driving, you'll have to apply to work for an agency that teaches traffic violator school or go into business on your own.

Qualifications for Defensive Driving Instructors

Different states have different requirements for becoming a defensive driving instructor, but generally the requirements are as follows:

1. A high school education. College is not required to teach defensive driving, although if you apply to teach through an agency that hires defensive driving instructors, a college education may make it more likely that you'll be hired.

2. Be age 18 or older. No state allows anyone to teach defensive driving until the age of 18.

3. Be able to pass a test on state traffic laws. These laws vary from state to state, so you should be aware of the state laws where you plan to teach defensive driving. This includes the proper operation of a motor vehicle, the rules and principles of defensive driving, and the ability to demonstrate teaching defensive driving concepts to students.

4. Have a valid driver's license in the state where you plan to teach defensive driving. People who are on probation with a state's DMV for having too many negligent operator points or traffic tickets are not eligible to become defensive driving instructors. This can even carry over from other states, so make sure your driving record is good before you attempt to become a defensive driving instructor. In some states, even having too many parking tickets can keep you from having a valid license and therefore keeping you from teaching defensive driving. If your driving record has any unsettled failure to appear or failure to pay a fine marks against it, you're probably not going to be able to teach defensive driving.

5. Defensive driving teachers have to pass a background check in most states before that state's DMV will issue them a traffic violator school license. In Texas, for example, you cannot get a license to teach traffic violator school or defensive driving if you have been convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude. As for the definition of moral turpitude, the statute isn't clear. Just have a clean criminal record and you should be okay.

6. Submit a sworn statement from a licensed traffic school stating that the traffic school intends to employ you or appeal to the state's DMV to get an independent defensive driving school license.

Becoming a Defensive Driving Instructor Step by Step

Here's a guide to becoming a defensive driving instructor step by step:

1. Verify that you have a clean driving record.

2. Enroll and complete a defensive driving certification course.

3. Submit your background check, fingerprints, photograph, and clean drug test to your state's agency.

4. Present your credentials to a driver's education agency or open up business for yourself.

Defensive driving teachers can generally set their own schedule and spend their careers helping people improve their driving, get out of traffic tickets, and lower their insurance cost. Defensive driving courses are a necessary part of driver's education, and good teachers can turn 8 hours of drudgery into an entertaining (or at very least unoffensive) experience.