How to become a Guide Dog Mobility Instructor

Guide dog mobility instructors train dogs to guide people who are blind or vision-impaired. They also train these people to use and care for a guide dog.

Personal requirements of a Guide Dog Mobility Instructor

  • Good health, hearing and eyesight
  • Full mobility and a good level of physical fitness
  • Desire to work with people who are vision-impaired
  • Flexible and adaptable
  • Able to work both independently and as part of a team
  • Love of, and aptitude for, working with dogs

Education & Training for a Guide Dog Mobility Instructor

To become a guide dog mobility instructor you usually have to complete a relevant degree, followed by a cadetship with the guide dogs association in your state or territory. This cadetship includes completion of a postgraduate qualification in orientation and mobility. Relevant degrees include those majoring in social sciences, disability studies, human services, psychology, nursing or education. To get into these courses you usually need to gain your Senior Secondary Certificate of Education. Prerequisite subjects, or assumed knowledge, in one or more of English, mathematics, biology, chemistry and physics are normally required. Most universities in Australia offer degrees in these areas. Entry to postgraduate courses usually requires completion of an appropriate bachelor degree. Universities have different prerequisites and some have flexible entry requirements or offer external study. Contact the institutions you are interested in for more information. For full details, refer to the entries on the website at www.goodcareersguide.com.au or university handbooks.

Duties & Tasks of a Guide Dog Mobility Instructor

Guide dog mobility instructors may perform the following tasks:

  • work with a team of specially chosen dogs that have undergone initial socialisation through the Guide Dogs Association of Australia’s puppy-raising scheme
  • over a period of four to six months, put the dogs through an intensive assessment and training program
  • train the dogs to guide people with little or no sight through all likely independent travel situations
  • conduct interviews and assessments of all applicants for guide dogs
  • conduct a matching meeting, whereby guide dogs are matched to clients on the waiting list
  • train a person who is vision-impaired to use a guide dog at either a residential training facility or within the person’s home area. Training is conducted over a period of three to six weeks. For people trained in the centre-based program, additional follow-up instruction of three to five days is provided upon the person’s return home.

Employment Opportunities for a Guide Dog Mobility Instructor

Guide dog mobility instructors are employed by guide dog associations around Australia and internationally. Job opportunities depend on the incidence of visual impairment in the community and the availability of funds for associations. There is a high level of competition for available positions.

Additional Information
Depending on your state or territory, you may need a drivers licence and a Provide First Aid Certificate. Many guide dog schools in Australia are members of the International Guide Dog Federation (IGDF), which is made up of approximately 80 guide dog schools from around the world. A qualification obtained from an IGDF-accredited school is recognised internationally by member schools.
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