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How to Assess a Truck Driving School
Once you have determined which CDL you want to pursue, you can start the process of evaluating the Drexel Heights AZ trucking schools that you are considering. As already mentioned, cost and location will undoubtedly be your primary considerations. But it can't be stressed enough that they must not be your only concerns. Other factors, for example the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly or even more important. So following are some additional points that you need to research while performing your due diligence before enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few truck driving schools in the Drexel Heights AZ area are accredited due to the stringent 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 several advantages. Prospective students recognize that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will receive lots of driving time. For example, PTDI requires 44 hours of real 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 curriculum and training will comply with the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help measure the quality of a trucking 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. However, even the best of Drexel Heights AZ schools had to start from their opening day of training, so use it as one of several qualifiers. You can also ask what the school's track record is concerning successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won't share those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should also have relationships with regional and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only confirms a quality reputation within the industry, but also boosts their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn't hurt to check with the Arizona licensing authority to confirm that the CDL trucker schools you are reviewing are in good standing.
How Good 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 following segment. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should be no higher than 4 to 1. If it's any higher, then students will not be getting the personal attention they will need. This is especially true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And be critical of any school that insists it can train you to drive trucks in a comparatively short time period. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. Most Drexel Heights AZ schools offer training courses that run from three weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Trainers? As previously mentioned, it's essential that the instructors are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although several states have minimum driving time criteria to be certified as a teacher, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also crucial that the teachers stay current with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating instructors might be a little more intuitive than other criteria, and perhaps the ideal approach is to pay a visit to the school and speak with the teachers in person. You can also talk to a few of the students completing the training and find out if they are satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher's qualification to train them.
How Much Driving Time? Above all else, a great truck driver school will furnish sufficient driving time to its students. Besides, 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 ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are essential training methods, they are no substitute for actual driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. And even though driving time fluctuates among schools, a good benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide at least 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Drexel Heights AZ schools you are considering and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can get free or discounted training from certain truck driving schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a specified carrier for a defined time period. This is what's known 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 place their graduates with, captives only refer to one company. The benefit is receiving less expensive or even free training by giving up the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Naturally contract training has the potential to restrict your income prospects when starting out. But for some it may be the best way to obtain affordable training. Just remember to inquire if the Drexel Heights AZ schools you are considering are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide CDL Testing Onsite? There are some states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is available in Arizona, find out if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than battling with graduates of other schools for test times at Arizona testing facilities. It is moreover an indication that the DMV deems the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Flexible? As previously noted, truck driving training is only about 1 to 2 months long. With such a short duration, it's imperative that the Drexel Heights AZ school you select provides 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 instructor should be willing to dedicate more time with you until you are proficient. And if you're still holding a job while going to training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Placement Offered? The moment you have acquired your commercial driver's license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be keen to start your new profession. Verify that the schools you are considering have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking firms their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a lower job placement rate or few Drexel Heights AZ employers recruiting their graduates, it may be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Given? Trucking schools are comparable to colleges and other Drexel Heights AZ area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Find out if the schools you are examining have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you understand the options and forms that need to be completed.