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How to Research a Truck Driving School
After you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you wish to pursue, you can begin the process of researching the Tempe AZ truck driving schools that you are looking at. As previously mentioned, cost and location will certainly be your initial considerations. But it can't be stressed enough that they must not be your only considerations. Other variables, including the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally or even more important. So following are several more factors that you should research while carrying out your due diligence prior to enrolling in, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few truck driver schools in the Tempe 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 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 be given plenty of driving time. For example, PTDI mandates 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 curriculum and training will meet the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One clue to help determine the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively rated or a fly by night school usually will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the best of Tempe AZ schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also ask what the school's history is regarding successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won't supply those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should also have relationships with regional and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only affirms a quality reputation within the industry, but also boosts their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn't hurt to contact the Arizona licensing department to verify that the CDL trucking schools you are considering are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Arizona and hire teachers that are experienced and trained. We will talk more about the teachers in the following section. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should not be greater than 4 to 1. If it's any higher, then students will not be receiving the personal attention they will need. This is particularly true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And look out for any school that claims it can teach you to be a truck driver in a relatively short time frame. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. Most Tempe AZ schools offer training programs that run from 3 weeks to as long as two months, depending on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Instructors? As earlier mentioned, it's essential that the instructors are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time requirements to qualify as a teacher, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It's also important that the teachers stay up to date with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating teachers might be a little more subjective than other criteria, and possibly the ideal method is to check out the school and talk to 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 level of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.
Enough Driving Time? Most importantly, an excellent trucking school will furnish lots of 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. Although the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are necessary training tools, they are no substitute for real driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. Although driving time fluctuates between 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. Contact the Tempe AZ schools you are looking at and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It's possible to receive free or discounted training from some truck driving schools if you make a commitment 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 rather than maintaining relationships with a wide range of trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only refer to one company. The tradeoff is receiving free or less expensive training by surrendering the flexibility to initially work 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 ideal way to receive affordable training. Just remember to find out if the Tempe AZ schools you are contemplating are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer Onsite CDL Testing? There are a number of states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its students. If onsite testing is available 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 battling with graduates from competing schools for test times at Arizona testing locations. It is also an indication that the DMV believes the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Accessible? As formerly mentioned, truck driver training is just one to two months in length. With such a short term, it's important that the Tempe AZ school you enroll in offers flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. For example, if you're having a hard time learning a particular driving maneuver, then the teacher should be willing to spend more time with you until you are proficient. And if you're still employed while going to training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Placement Offered? Once you have attained your CDL license after graduating from trucking school, you will be keen to start your new profession. Verify that the schools you are considering have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking firms their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a poor job placement rate or not many Tempe AZ employers hiring their grads, it may be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Trucking schools are comparable to colleges and other Tempe 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 reviewing have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that need to be completed.