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How to Research a Truck Driving School
After you have decided which CDL you would like to obtain, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating the Avondale AZ truck driver schools that you are looking at. As previously discussed, location and cost will undoubtedly be your initial considerations. But it can't be emphasized enough that they should not be your only considerations. Other factors, for example the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly or even more important. So below are some more things that you need to research while conducting your due diligence prior to choosing, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many truck driving schools in the Avondale AZ area are accredited due to the stringent process and expense to the schools. However, certification is more prevalent and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Prospective students know that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will get lots of driving time. For example, PTDI calls for 44 hours of actual driving time, not ride-alongs or simulations. So if a school's course is certified (the course, not the school is certified), students know that the training and curriculum will fulfill the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help measure the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively reviewed or a fly by night school typically will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the best of Avondale AZ schools had to begin from their first day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also ask what the school's track record is relating to successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won't provide those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally have relationships with regional and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only confirms a superior reputation within the trade, but also boosts their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to contact the Arizona licensing authority to confirm that the CDL trucker schools you are considering are in compliance.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in Arizona and hire teachers that are experienced and trained. We will talk more about the teachers in the following section. Also, the student to instructor ratio should not be greater than 4 to 1. If it's any higher, then students will not be getting the personalized attention they will need. This is particularly true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And look out for any school that insists it can train you to drive trucks in a relatively short time frame. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. The majority of Avondale AZ schools offer training courses that run from 3 weeks to as long as two months, based on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Teachers? As previously stated, it's important that the teachers are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time requirements to qualify as an instructor, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also crucial that the instructors stay up to date with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing teachers may be a little more subjective than other standards, and perhaps the best method is to visit the school and speak with the teachers face to face. You can also talk to some of the students completing the training and ask if they are happy with the quality of instruction and the teacher's qualification to train them.
Enough Driving Time? Above all else, a good truck driver school will provide ample driving time to its students. After all, isn't that what it's all about? Driving time is the real time spent behind the wheel operating a truck. While the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are necessary training methods, they are no replacement for real driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will become. Although driving time fluctuates among schools, a reasonable benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Avondale AZ schools you are looking at and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It's possible to get discounted or even free training from certain trucking schools if you make a commitment to drive for a specified carrier for a defined amount of time. This is called contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of having relationships with many different trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only refer to one company. The benefit is receiving less expensive or even free training by giving up the flexibility to initially work wherever you choose. Obviously contract training has the potential to limit your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the best way to receive affordable training. Just be sure to inquire if the Avondale AZ schools you are contemplating are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide CDL Testing Onsite? There are several states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its students. If onsite testing is allowed in Arizona, ask if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than competing with graduates of other schools for test times at Arizona testing centers. It is moreover an indication that the DMV considers the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Convenient? As previously mentioned, CDL training is just one to two months in length. With such a brief term, it's imperative that the Avondale AZ school you enroll in provides flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. As an example, if you're having difficulty learning a particular driving maneuver, then the teacher should be prepared to spend more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you're still working while going to training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Assistance Provided? Once you have obtained your commercial driver's license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be impatient to begin your new career. Confirm that the schools you are contemplating have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement rate is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking firms their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a low job placement rate or few Avondale AZ employers recruiting their graduates, it might be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Given? Truck driver schools are similar to colleges and other Avondale AZ area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Ask if the schools you are evaluating have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you get through the options and forms that need to be submitted.