Changing careers? What’s it really like to be a driving instructor?

From: RED Driving School
Published: Wed Sep 08 2010

During the recession era the media has been full of doom and gloom concerning the UK jobs market. A recent survey showed that for every graduate position advertised there are usually around seventy applicants. The public sector cuts have meant that many individuals with transferable skills are now looking for new careers. Of course people choose to change career all the time but at the moment there is a huge increase in individuals changing careers with management, training or people based skills behind them. Training to be a driving instructor is now a popular option for many of these professionals as the ability to teach people new skills as well as having good interpersonal skills are essential to the role.

Flexible working hours, good earning potential and daily job satisfaction are all key benefits of the job. But what’s it really like? We spoke to Leigh Honeyman of RED Driving School based in Wallington near Croydon, about what’s involved in switching careers and becoming a driving instructor.

So Leigh, what did you do before you became a driving instructor?

"Before joining RED I was in the Army for 13 years. I joined an Army Cadets Unit when I was in school and then when I was 17 I joined the British Army where I worked as a Heavy Weapons Instructor."

Becoming a driving instructor after being a Heavy Weapons Instructor must have been quite a change! What did you find were the main differences in teaching people to drive compared to teaching people to use anti-tank missiles?

"The difference in attitude; soldiers in the army learn because they have to learn, in some cases their lives depend on it. When you teach people to drive they want to learn but sometimes they aren’t as focused as soldiers so you have to be a bit more patient."

As your career change was a bit unusual, do you believe that people with backgrounds that are even more diverse than yours could become driving instructors?

"Certainly, anyone with a background in any sort of teaching would be well prepared for it. To a certain extent anyone with kids should be able to do it as they spend a lot of time teaching their children!"

Would you recommend that soldiers, who are thinking of leaving the army, should become driving instructors?

"I would, particularly if they have an instructor background like me. The results in this job are sometimes a lot more rewarding than meeting your goals in the army. I know it’s a cliché, but when you teach someone to drive you really are passing on a life skill. In the Army things are changing all the time so something you teach someone today might not be any use in a few years time."

What was your training like when you were leaning to be an instructor?

"Training with RED was great; they provide a lot of support if you struggle with anything. I found certain aspects of the course difficult but they provided extra sessions and teaching, which obviously paid off as I made it! I think its one of those things where you get out what you put in. If you work hard and put in a lot of effort you will be successful. If you don’t work hard you’re probably going to struggle."

A lot of people think they will struggle with the training as they find it hard to learn new skills, particularly learning to teach, do you think the training you received would prepare most people?

"To a certain extent, you can’t just turn up and expect to be a driving instructor by the end of it. The more you put into it the more you will get out of it; you’ve got to work hard to do well. I grabbed the bull by the horns and gave it my all, it certainly paid off. Essentially if you want it then the support you need is there as long as you apply yourself."

As Leigh’s story shows, becoming a driving instructor can be incredibly rewarding. Leigh’s example illustrates that with enough determination and hard work you can achieve great results as a driving instructor, regardless of your background or previous careers.

For more information please contact James Mortimer ( 01273 322 837) or Lucy Freeborn ( 01273 322 849).

RED Driving School and <a href""RED Instructor Training are both adding loads of interesting content about what it’s like to be a driving instructor to their respective Facebook pages. We will also be adding tips and advice for young drivers and taking a light hearted look at our industry.

Company: RED Driving School
Contact Name: james.mortimer
Contact Email:
Contact Phone: 01273 322830

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