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How to Assess a CDL School
Once you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you want to obtain, you can begin the process of assessing the Catalina Foothills AZ trucking schools that you are looking at. As earlier discussed, cost and location will certainly be your initial concerns. But it can't be stressed enough that they should not be your only concerns. Other issues, such as the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally or even more important. So following are some additional things that you should research while conducting your due diligence prior to selecting, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few trucking schools in the Catalina Foothills AZ area are accredited due to the demanding process and expense to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more prevalent and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Potential students know that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will get an ample amount of driving time. For example, PTDI calls for 44 hours of actual driving time, not simulations or ride-alongs. So if a school's program is certified (the program, not the school is certified), students know that the training and curriculum will measure up to the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One indicator to help measure the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in business. A poorly reviewed or a fly by night school normally will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the top Catalina Foothills AZ schools had to begin from their first day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifiers. You can also learn what the school's history is concerning successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won't share those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should also maintain relationships with regional and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only affirms a quality reputation within the profession, but also boosts their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to check with the Arizona licensing authority to verify that the CDL trucking schools you are reviewing are in compliance.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Arizona and hire instructors that are experienced and trained. We will discuss more about the teachers in the next section. Also, the student to instructor ratio should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, then students will not be obtaining the personalized attention they will need. This is particularly true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And watch out for any school that insists it can train you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short time frame. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. The majority of Catalina Foothills AZ schools provide training courses that range from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Trainers? As earlier mentioned, it's important that the teachers are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though several states have minimum driving time prerequisites to be certified as a teacher, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It's also crucial that the instructors keep up to date with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating teachers may be a little more intuitive than other criteria, and perhaps the ideal approach is to check out the school and speak with the instructors face to face. You can also speak with a few of the students completing the training and find out if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher's qualification to train them.
How Much Driving Time? Most importantly, an excellent trucking school will furnish sufficient 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 driving a truck. Although the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are necessary training methods, they are no alternative for actual driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. Although driving time differs among schools, a reasonable standard is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide no less than 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Catalina Foothills AZ schools you are looking at and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can get free or discounted training from some truck driving schools if you make a commitment to be a driver for a particular carrier for a defined period of time. This is what's known as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So instead of having affiliations with a wide range of trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only work with one company. The tradeoff is receiving less expensive or even free training by surrendering the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Naturally contract training has the potential to restrict your income prospects when starting out. But for many it may be the best way to receive affordable training. Just remember to find out if the Catalina Foothills AZ schools you are looking at are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide CDL Testing Onsite? There are a number of states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its grads. If onsite testing is allowed in Arizona, ask if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than contending with graduates of competing schools for test times at Arizona testing centers. It is also an indicator that the DMV considers the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Flexible? As formerly mentioned, CDL training is only about one to two months long. With such a brief term, it's important that the Catalina Foothills AZ school you select offers flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. As an example, if you're having difficulty learning a particular driving maneuver, then the teacher should be willing to dedicate more time with you until you are proficient. And if you're still working while attending training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Placement Offered? Once you have attained your CDL license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be impatient to start your new profession. Make sure that the schools you are considering have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking companies their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a low job placement rate or few Catalina Foothills AZ employers recruiting their grads, it may be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Given? Truck driver schools are much like colleges and other Catalina Foothills AZ area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being available. Ask if the schools you are examining have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you understand the options and forms that must be completed.