In my post about the rise of the private citizen firearms training (cottage) industry yesterday, I mentioned a comment by Karl Rehn of KR Training that almost no one makes a full-time living as a firearms trainer. Karl was good enough to send me some background on his comment which I am posting here in full.
The Viability of the “Full Time” Firearms Instructor Job
By Karl Rehn
In Texas there are more than 3600 License to Carry instructors, around 3000 Hunter Ed instructors, plus 10-12K NRA instructors, as well as LEO and military firearms instructors. About 120K people per year take the LTC course in Texas. That means the “average” LTC instructor is teaching about 30 students a year. That’s not a full time occupation. At $100 per class, that’s $3000 a year…before expenses. With the growth of Constitutional carry (no training/no permit) and (in Texas) conversion of the carry permit class to an online course, demand for in-person state mandated training continues to drop.
There are a few big name instructors in the state, maybe 10 schools or less that teach 500 or more students each year. That’s 30-40 weeks of classes with 10-20 students per course, which is a heavy workload. Many traveling trainers teach fewer weeks on the road.
At an average 2-day class price of $400, that’s a max of $200K…before expenses. Many of the top tier instructors own permanent facilities. That means taxes, maintenance, utilities, insurance, plus the per-class costs of paying assistants, supplies, and marketing. Those that are traveling trainers have travel costs – easily $1-2K per week with hotel, gas, plane, food, rental car. So a traveling trainer on the road 30 weeks a year is probably spending $30-50k a year just on travel, particularly if they attend SHOT show, NRA convention or other national events. There are probably more ‘national’ trainers making low to mid-5 figures, after expenses, than there are making 6 figures.
The other element is this: if you study the backgrounds of most of the national level trainers, you’ll find a lot of them are retired from 20-30 years of gov’t service, have other income sources (range ownership, book sales), or family money.
So out of a pool of 10-15,000 instructors in the state, maybe 100 are making 5 figures and less than 10 are making 6 figures, with almost zero deriving their primary full time income from teaching.