Driving Instructor Kaiwhakaako Taraiwa Waka

Driving instructors teach people how to drive, and instruct experienced drivers how to advance their driving skills and road safety knowledge.

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Driving instructors may do some or all of the following:

  • explain the basic mechanical workings of vehicles to clients
  • demonstrate and explain how to drive a vehicle
  • coach clients while they are driving
  • assess employee driving skills for employers
  • teach clients the road rules and about road safety
  • teach defensive driving courses
  • teach advanced defensive driving courses.

Driving instructors who are also qualified testing officers conduct practical driving tests.

To specialise in heavy vehicle and motorcycle driving you will need to obtain an instructor endorsement for each class of licence you want to teach.

To become a defensive driving instructor you will need to train with either the AA Driving School or Street-Talk.

Physical Requirements

Driving instructors need to have good reflexes, good hand-eye co-ordination and good hearing (with or without hearing aids).

Useful Experience

Useful experience for driving instructors includes any driving or teaching work.

Personal Qualities

Driving instructors need to be:

  • friendly and patient, with excellent communication skills
  • able to react quickly and remain calm in an emergency
  • punctual, mature and responsible
  • able to inspire confidence in learner drivers.


Driving instructors need to have:

  • advanced driving skills
  • a thorough knowledge of the Road Code
  • awareness of defensive driving techniques and transport regulations
  • good health and safety knowledge.

Those running their own business need small business skills.


Driving instructors usually work:

  • when it suits their students, often in the weekends
  • in their vehicle, driving school classrooms, schools and training centres
  • in varied conditions that can be challenging, as they work with learner drivers on public roads. 

Subject Recommendations

There are no specific secondary education requirements to become a driving instructor. However, mathematics and English to at least NCEA Level 2 are useful.

Driving Instructors can earn around $44K-$80K per year.

Pay for driving instructors varies depending on the number of clients they have and the type of driver training they provide. For example, you can earn more by teaching defensive driving courses, corporate drivers or heavy vehicle drivers.

Driving instructors usually earn between $44,000 and $80,000 a year. 

They normally charge between $55 and $75 an hour, and may do 15 to 30 one-hour lessons a week. From these charges they may need to pay fees for instructor courses, driving school contracts and vehicle leasing, and other car and business-related costs.

Some driving instructors are employed in-house by organisations with large vehicle fleets to do corporate driver training. These driving instructors usually receive a wage or salary.

Sources: AA Driving School and New Zealand Institute of Driver Educators, 2018.

Driving instructors may progress to become driving school managers or testing officers.

Driving instructors may specialise in:

  • bus driving and passenger endorsement training
  • corporate driver training – teaching defensive driving to commercial business employees
  • defensive driver training
  • motorcycle rider training – Class 6 licence
  • specialist heavy vehicle driver training – including earthmoving machines and forklifts
  • truck driver training– Class 2 to 5 licences.

Years Of Training

<1 year of training required.

To become a driving instructor you need to:

  • pass a full driver's licence test in a manual transmission vehicle, if you haven't passed one within the last five years
  • have held a full driver's licence for at least two years for each type of vehicle you want to teach (including cars)
  • pass an approved driving instructor's course
  • pass a fit and proper person test (police check)
  • pass a medical check if you will be instructing heavy vehicle drivers
  • pass a medical check if you have a medical condition that could affect your ability to drive, if you haven't passed one within the last five years
  • hold an I (instructor) endorsement on your driver's licence.

Self-employed driving instructors, including those contracted to driving schools, must have their own vehicle and full insurance.

Driving Instructor