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How to Research a Trucking School
After you have determined which CDL you wish to pursue, you can start the process of researching the Aliso Viejo CA truck driver schools that you are looking at. As earlier discussed, cost and location will no doubt be your initial considerations. But it can't be stressed enough that they should not be your sole concerns. Other issues, such as the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly if not more important. So below are a few additional points that you should research while performing your due diligence prior to enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many truck driving schools in the Aliso Viejo CA 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 obligated to become certified, but there are a number of advantages. Potential students know that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will be given an ample amount of driving time. For example, PTDI calls for 44 hours of real driving time, not ride-alongs or simulations. So if a school's program is certified (the program, not the school is certified), students know that the training and curriculum will comply with the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One indicator to help measure the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly ranked or a fly by night school normally will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the best of Aliso Viejo CA schools had to start from their opening day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also find out what the school's history is concerning successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won't supply those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should also have associations with regional and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only points to an excellent reputation within the profession, but also boosts their job placement program for students. It also wouldn't hurt to check with the California licensing authority to confirm that the CDL trucking schools you are researching are in good standing.
How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in California and employ instructors that are trained and experienced. We will talk more about the teachers in the following section. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should not be greater than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, then students will not be getting the personal attention they will need. This is especially 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 drive trucks in a relatively short period of time. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. The majority of Aliso Viejo CA schools offer training programs that run from 3 weeks to as long as two months, depending on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Teachers? As earlier mentioned, it's important that the instructors are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although several 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 vital that the instructors stay current with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating teachers might be a bit more subjective than other standards, and possibly the best approach is to visit the school and talk to the teachers in person. You can also talk to some of the students going through the training and ask if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.
How Much Driving Time? Above all else, an excellent trucking school will furnish sufficient 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 ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are essential training tools, they are no alternative for real driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. Although driving time varies among schools, a good 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 Aliso Viejo CA schools you are researching and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can obtain discounted or even free training from certain truck driver schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a specified carrier for a defined time period. This is what's known as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So instead of maintaining relationships with many different trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only refer to one company. The benefit is receiving free or less expensive training by surrendering the freedom to initially work wherever you choose. Obviously 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 obtain affordable training. Just be sure to inquire if the Aliso Viejo CA schools you are contemplating are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide CDL Testing Onsite? There are a number of states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its grads. If onsite testing is available in California, ask if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to offer it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than competing with graduates from other schools for test times at California testing locations. It is moreover an indication that the DMV views the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Convenient? As previously mentioned, CDL training is just one to two months long. With such a short term, it's essential that the Aliso Viejo CA school you choose provides flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. As an example, if you're having difficulty learning a certain 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 attending training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Placement Provided? Once you have obtained your CDL license after graduating from trucking school, you will be eager to begin your new profession. Verify that the schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs. Find out 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 referred to for hiring. If a school has a lower job placement rate or not many Aliso Viejo CA employers recruiting their graduates, it might be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Truck driving schools are similar to colleges and other Aliso Viejo CA area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being offered. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you understand the options and forms that must be completed.