How to become a riding instructor

by Kate A January 09, 2016

How to become a riding instructor

Remember the day you rode a motorcycle for the first time? Or the day you passed your riding test and got your motorcycle license? The excitement, the eagerness, the sense of pride and accomplishment – that’s what I remember feeling and now I relive this experience through new riders I frequently encounter.

A few months ago, I had an epiphany – why not contribute to the growing “bike fam” by helping new riders learn how to not only ride but ride safe? I would never consider this option a few years back but I now have enough riding experience and confidence in my ability to effectively pass on the knowledge to make being a riding instructor a plausible option. I started doing some research on what it takes to become a riding instructor in California and after gathering info from several different sources, I finally figured out everything I would need to do.

In an effort to save some time for others interested in getting certified as motorcycle riding instructors in California, I thought I’d put all my research in one place so here is goes.

First and foremost, you’ll need to find and existing California Motorcycle Safety Program (CMSP) school that is willing to endorse you and take you under their wing. Not only will they be able to help you through the process, but you’ll also need to use their training facility to fulfill several of your own requirements.

To be eligible for the instructor training, you must:

  • Have a minimum of 12,000 miles of riding experience (24,000 miles preferred).
  • Have a clean driving record
  • Possess a high school diploma or a G.E.D.
  • Own a street-legal motorcycle and operate it on a regular basis
  • Have a current motorcycle license
  • Agree to abide by CMSP Instructor Standards
  • Be able to attend the Instructor Training
  • Be able to complete a mandatory annual Online Update
  • Commit to teaching a minimum of 6 courses over two years

Prior to taking the Instructor Training Course, you must complete the following prerequisites:

  • Obtain a copy of your driving record from CA DMV (Cost: $2)
  • Complete the CMSP basic rider course as a student, within six months and submit copy of Completion Card for verification. (Cost: $285)
  • Complete the Total Control IRC or ARC as a student and submit copy of Completion Card for verification. (Cost: $200-325)
  • Read Total Control book, Second Edition, and complete written assignment based on ideas and concepts presented in the book. (Cost: $21.99)
  • Observe one complete MTC class and complete a written assignment based on observation of the class.
  • Obtain a LiveScan background check – request form located here. (Cost: $50-95)
  • Fill out the Instructor application form located here.

After completing all the prerequisites, you may sign up for the Instructor Training Course. The course lasts 7 days (60 hours) and has a pretty steep cost of $595. The fee is non-refundable and there is no guarantee of successful completion. To see the course schedule and sign up, click here:

If you’ve successfully completed the Instructor Training, you must also get CPR and First-Aid certified. The certification must be obtained at a hands-on training site, online certifications are not permitted. (Cost: $45-80)

Got everything done? Congratulations, you’re now ready to embark on your journey as a riding instructor! But in order to maintain your trainer certification, you must:

  • Conduct a minimum of 6 CMSP Beginner Rider Courses or equivalent CMSP/TCTI curriculum offerings in a two-year certification period.
  • Participate in one Professional Development Workshop per year provided by CMSP.
  • Participate in a minimum of one personal learning activity per certification period. This activity must be something that will improve the abilities of the Instructor, either riding or teaching abilities.
  • Avoid any actual or perceived conflict of interest between CMSP, TCTI, and other business interests.
  • Comply with the Rules of Professional Conduct of a CMSP Instructor as outlined in the document signed during the Instructor Training.

The process is a major financial commitment so talk to your endorsing CMSP school to see if they can at least cut you a break on the cost of the basic rider course and possibly cover your Instructor Training fee if you commit to teaching with their school.

As a certified CMSP instructor, you won’t be limited to just teaching in one school. You are eligible to teach at any motorcycle riding school in California.

I’m currently finishing up my prerequisites and getting ready to complete the Instructor Training in March. The level of commitment to this program is intense but it is undeniably rewarding to be a part of new riders’ excitement of learning to ride.

Kate A
Kate A


As a matter of fact, I do know what I'm talking about.

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