A certified test driver assesses vehicle performance for independent vehicle test organisations, automotive magazines, and manufacturers. Automotive magazine and independent test organisations employ these drivers to assess different aspects of a vehicle such as fuel economy, handling, and safety, as a basis for a report to consumers.
On the other hand, tests drivers who work for manufacturers examine the performance of every feature of a vehicle and prepare a report that helps the engineers to improve the design or identify issues before production starts.
Becoming a Test Driver
There are a thousand ways of becoming a test driver. But if you wish to become a certified or professional driver, you need to have the following qualities:
1. Vehicle Knowledge
Although there is no formal knowledge that exists for this job, a clear understanding of a vehicle system as well as technology is critical. In fact, as a certified test driver, you need to understand how all components of a vehicle works so that you can assess its quality and level of performance.
A vocational qualification in automotive engineering or a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering is desirable. Additionally, experience as a mechanic also adds an understanding of auto systems.
2. Driving Skills
A test driver must have perfect driving skills to control vehicles safely under test conditions (often demanding). To test various factors such as braking, handling, and steering, you must be able to carry out the test on rough and twisting circuits, and even drive at high speeds to push the vehicle to its limit. To improve your driving skills, you can also take practice tests online that will help you do just that. Free sites like Top Tests offer tons of great mock up theory tests to help you sharpen up your skills.
3. Testing Experience
You can build your testing experience through working as a vehicle correspondent for specialist magazines or newspapers. A correspondent writes reviews of new vehicles and might get a chance to test-drive the vehicles during the launch event. Writing these reviews helps potential test drivers understand vital performance features and get a feel of different vehicles.
4. Personal Qualities
As you have seen, a professional test driver needs to have the confidence to test-drive under difficult situations. You need to follow instructions from the engineers and provide precise feedback and informed views on a car’s performance. In addition, you need to have the mental and physical stamina to test cars for extended periods under different conditions.
Test drivers have the opportunity to work for a magazine, a manufacturer or an auto engineering organisation that supply drivers on contract and offer test services. There are websites that provide a list of organisations that supply and hire test drivers on contract. You can become a test driver by being hired through these websites.
The Bottom Line
There might be limited opportunities working with vehicles and it might appear like you have got a higher chance of buying yourself a fleet of vehicles or winning a lottery, but if you possess the necessary skills, determination, and a little luck, you could really be a certified test driver.