Career of the week: driving instructor

Clare Burgess talks to Howard Floyd of the How-2-Drive Driving School about his career as a driving instructor.

Why is it a good profession to get into?

Being a driving instructor gives you the freedom of being your own boss so you can choose when you want to work. There is also real job satisfaction when you meet people who know nothing about driving, get them through to their test and then see them happy when they pass. I can't imagine doing anything different.

What does the work involve?

When I started working as a driving instructor I thought I would just be teaching learner drivers, but there is so much more to the job. As well as learners I also work as a fleet trainer, where I work with some blue chip companies who employ me to improve their employees' driving skills to an advanced standard, thus reducing their risk of costly incidents. I also train people to become driving instructors with the AA Driving School. As my own boss I can work as much or as little as I like, which is something I really enjoy. When I started I did all the hours I could to build up my reputation, but now I tend to work 8am to 6pm, occasionally taking evening work with learners. I am always quite surprised at what sometimes happens in my lessons - for example, I once had a learner who repeatedly wanted to drive on the wrong side of the road! It doesn't faze me as I am always in complete control of the lesson and I have never been scared in a situation.

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What are the positives/negatives of this profession?

The main positives of the job are being able to work for yourself, having your own freedom and not having to report to anyone. It is a very competitive market and very occasionally you get a difficult customer who is not easy to get one with, but this is very rare.

Is there much local demand for people trained in this area?

I am always busy so I think there is demand for good instructors. As the market is so competitive it is very easy to find another driving instructor, so people don't tolerate a bad instructor.

What would employers look for in someone applying for a vacancy?

To be a driving instructor you have to have a driving licence that you have held for more than three years and you must be at least 21. You need a clean driving licence and must be a fit and proper person. You also have to be patient and professional, with good people skills. You have to be able to let the student try things for themselves without trying to over instruct them too much. It is vital to put the pupil at ease as this will make learning fun, and driving enjoyable. This is the skill that separates the good instructors from the bad instructors. You've got to trust and believe in your student to get it right, guiding them through the things they find difficult, because it is the only way they will learn to be a good driver themselves.