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How to Assess a CDL School
When you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you want to pursue, you can begin the process of researching the Chandler AZ truck driving schools that you are looking at. As earlier mentioned, location and cost will no doubt be your initial concerns. But it can't be stressed enough that they should not be your only concerns. Other factors, including the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally or even more important. So below are some additional things that you need to research while conducting your due diligence prior to enrolling in, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few truck driving schools in the Chandler AZ area are accredited because of the stringent process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more common and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Potential students know that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will be given an ample amount of driving time. As an 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 curriculum and training will comply with the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One clue to help determine the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in business. A negatively reviewed or a fly by night school typically will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the best of Chandler AZ schools had to start from their opening day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also find out what the school's track record is pertaining to successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won't share those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally have associations with regional and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only affirms an excellent reputation within the profession, but also boosts their job placement program for students. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to contact the Arizona licensing authority to verify that the CDL trucking schools you are researching are in good standing.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Arizona and hire instructors that are experienced and trained. We will talk more about the teachers in the next segment. Also, the student to instructor proportion should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it's any higher, then students will not be getting the individual 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 claims it can train you to drive trucks in a relatively short time period. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. The majority of Chandler AZ schools provide training programs that run from three weeks to as long as two months, depending on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Instructors? As previously mentioned, it's important that the teachers are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though several states have minimum driving time prerequisites to be certified as an instructor, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It's also important that the teachers stay current with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating instructors may be a little more subjective than other standards, and possibly the best approach is to visit the school and speak with the teachers in person. You can also speak with some of the students completing the training and find out if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher's qualification to train them.
Adequate Driving Time? Above all else, a great truck driving school will furnish 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 driving a truck. Even though the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are important training tools, they are no replacement for real driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. And even though driving time differs among schools, a reasonable standard is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Chandler 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 trucking schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a specific carrier for a defined amount of time. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of maintaining affiliations with a wide range of trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only work with one company. The benefit is receiving free or less expensive training by giving up the flexibility to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Clearly contract training has the potential to restrict your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the best way to receive affordable training. Just make sure to find out if the Chandler AZ schools you are considering are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer Onsite CDL Testing? There are several states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its grads. If onsite testing is allowed in Arizona, find out if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to offer it. One benefit is that it is more convenient than competing with graduates of competing schools for test times at Arizona testing locations. It is also an indication that the DMV views the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Accessible? As formerly mentioned, truck driving training is just 1 to 2 months long. With such a brief duration, it's important that the Chandler AZ school you select offers flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. For example, if you're having difficulty learning a certain driving maneuver, then the instructor should be willing to spend more time with you until you are proficient. And if you're still working while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Assistance Offered? As soon as you have received your CDL license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be impatient to start your new career. Make sure that the schools you are considering have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking firms their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a low job placement rate or few Chandler AZ employers hiring their grads, it might be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Truck driving schools are similar to colleges and other Chandler AZ area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being available. Find out if the schools you are evaluating have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you understand the options and forms that must be submitted.