How to Become a Driving Instructor in California

To become a driving instructor in California, you first need to earn your California driving instructor license.  This license is granted by the California department of motor vehicles.  In order to earn your license, there are five major requirements, and proof of these will accompany your occupational license application.  In California, the certified driving school that intends to hire you provides the training.

Major requirements for driving instructors in California

  1. You must be at least 18 years old.
  2. You must have a valid California driver’s license.  If you have a license from another state you are not eligible to get your instructor certification in California
  3. You must have passed the driving school instructor written test, which is administered at a branch of the CA DMV
  4. You must have a certificate of completion of the driving instructor training course, which must be at least 60 hours (more on that later)
  5. You must present a high school diploma or equivalent.  The GED is accepted.

In advance of turning in your license application, you should schedule an appointment at the DMV to take your written test.  You must pass the written exam within your first 3 attempts.  The driving instructor test will include proving an understanding of traffic laws, defensive driving techniques, and teaching methods and strategies.

Additional requirements for driving instructors in California

  • You must pass a physical examination from a licensed medical doctor to prove you are able to operate a motor vehicle and do light lifting.  The physician should fill in form DL51 and you should bring it with you to the DMV.
  • You may not be on probation to any California state department.
  • You many not have failed to appear in court on your record.
  • You must pass a criminal background check.

Cost of becoming a driving instructor in California

  • $31 Application fee
  • $30 Additional license fee
  • Driving instructor training fee.  This changes on a school-by-school basis, but can cost up to $2,000.  Some schools allow you to work off the instructor training fee upon completion.

Driving instructor personality traits

The state of California also believes that a number of personality traits are required to become an effective drivers ed teacher.  They, in many ways, are similar to the traits required to be an effective teacher, coach, or mentor to teenagers in any discipline.  These traits include, but are not limited to:

  • The ability to communicate clearly with various types of individuals under various learning styles
  • The ability to lead by example
  • A pleasant, happy demeanor
  • An inspirational leadership style
  • The ability to show patience, understanding, and compasion

For more information and the forms necessary to become a driving instructor, visit the California Department of Motor Vehicles site.


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