How to Become a State Certified Driving Instructor

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It takes far more than driving around the block a few times to learn how to manage a vehicle on city streets and state highways. Driving instructors are trained to teach others what they need to know to drive safely and obey traffic laws. Before a driving instructor is allowed to teach, he must become certified through the state he will be teaching in. Driving instructor certifications do not transfer over state lines. If you are moving to a new state, you will need to fulfill all instructor certification requirements in your new location.

  • Contact your state's department of motor vehicles to inquire about instructor certification. Knowing the requirements before applying can save you time. Try the department of transportation, the state department and the office of licensing and regulations if the department of motor vehicles cannot assist you. For example, Michigan requires driving instructors to register through its department of state; New York manages the certification through the department of motor vehicles; and Massachusetts uses the department of transportation.

  • Review the requirements and see if you qualify. Most states require the applicant to have proof of a high school diploma or the equivalent. A clean driving record, a background check, an eye test and the passing of an instructor exam are other typical requirements for driving instructor certification.

  • Complete all required courses for becoming an instructor. Most states require instructor applicants to complete a instructors' training program. Massachusetts requires the completion of a 65-hour instructor training program. New York requires the completion of a 30-hour basic course in driver instruction, and the completion of a course in teaching techniques and methodology.

  • Complete all exams. In addition to completing instructor courses, the state may also require the passing of an instructor exam administered by the state.

  • Complete the application and return it to the appropriate agency. Applicants may need to provide several passport-sized photos in addition to requested paperwork. Payment of required fees will need to occur when returning the application. New York charges a $10 fee for instructor certification. Michigan charges a $45 fee.

  • Wait to receive the certification. Certification should arrive in the mail once all information is reviewed and verified by the state. Instructors cannot teach for payment until they have received their certification.

  • Renew the instructor certification. Each state will have different renewal requirements. Make sure you know what the state requires from you and how often renewal is expected. Massachusetts requires an annual renewal that includes a $25 fee and proof that the instructor is still teaching. The Massachusetts renewal program automatically runs a yearly background check and a driving record check for each renewal.

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