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How to Research a CDL School
After you have decided which CDL you want to pursue, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating the El Mirage AZ trucking schools that you are considering. As already mentioned, location and cost will no doubt be your initial considerations. But it can't be stressed enough that they must not be your sole considerations. Other factors, including the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally if not more important. So below are several more things that you need to research while carrying out your due diligence prior to selecting, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few truck driving schools in the El Mirage AZ area are accredited because of the rigorous process and expense to the schools. However, certification is more commonplace and is offered 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 caliber, and that they will receive lots 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 course is certified (the course, not the school is certified), students know that the training and curriculum will meet the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help assess the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in business. A poorly ranked or a fly by night school usually will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the top El Mirage AZ schools had to start from their first day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also find out what the school's track record is relating to successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won't supply those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should also have associations with regional and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only affirms an excellent reputation within the profession, but also bolsters their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to contact the Arizona licensing department to make sure that the CDL trucking schools you are reviewing are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in Arizona and hire teachers that are trained and experienced. We will cover more about the teachers in the following segment. Also, the student to instructor ratio should not be higher 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 concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And be critical of any school that professes it can teach you to drive trucks in a comparatively short time frame. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. Most El Mirage AZ schools offer training programs that range from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Trainers? As previously stated, it's essential that the teachers are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time requirements to be certified as an instructor, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also important that the instructors keep current with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating teachers may be a little more subjective than other criteria, and perhaps the ideal approach is to check out the school and speak with the teachers face to face. You can also talk to a few of the students going through the training and ask if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher's qualification to train them.
Enough Driving Time? Most importantly, a good trucking school will provide ample driving time to its students. Besides, isn't that what it's all about? Driving time is the actual time spent behind the wheel driving a truck. Although the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are essential training methods, they are no substitute for actual driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will become. And even though driving time can vary between schools, a good benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Contact the El Mirage AZ schools you are looking at and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It's possible to receive discounted or even free training from some truck driving schools if you make a commitment to drive for a specific carrier for a defined time period. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So instead of maintaining affiliations with many different trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only refer to one company. The tradeoff is receiving less expensive or even free training by giving up the freedom to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Obviously contract training has the potential to restrict your income opportunities when starting out. But for some it may be the only way to get affordable training. Just be sure to ask if the El Mirage AZ schools you are contemplating are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer Onsite CDL Testing? There are some states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its grads. If onsite testing is allowed in Arizona, ask if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than contending with graduates from other schools for test times at Arizona testing centers. It is moreover an indication that the DMV deems the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Convenient? As previously mentioned, truck driver training is only about one to two months long. With such a short term, it's imperative that the El Mirage AZ school you choose provides flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. For example, if you're having a hard time learning a particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be prepared to dedicate more time with you until you are proficient. And if you're still working while going to training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Placement Offered? The moment you have attained your commercial driver's license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be eager to begin your new career. Make sure that the schools you are contemplating have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking companies their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a lower job placement rate or not many El Mirage AZ employers recruiting their grads, it might be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? Truck driver schools are similar to colleges and other El Mirage AZ area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Find out if the schools you are assessing have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you get through the options and forms that must be submitted.