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How to Evaluate a CDL School
After you have decided which CDL you want to pursue, you can start the process of assessing the Altadena CA trucking schools that you are looking at. As previously mentioned, location and cost will no doubt be your primary concerns. But it can't be emphasized enough that they should not be your only concerns. Other issues, such as the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly or even more important. So following are several more points that you need to research while conducting your due diligence before enrolling in, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few trucking schools in the Altadena CA area are accredited due to the rigorous process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more commonplace and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Interested students know that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will receive an ample amount of driving time. As an example, PTDI calls for 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 training and curriculum will measure up to the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One clue to help evaluate the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly rated or a fly by night school typically will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the best of Altadena CA schools had to begin from their first day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also ask what the school's history is regarding successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won't share those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally have associations with local and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only affirms a superior reputation within the industry, but also bolsters their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to contact the California licensing authority to make sure that the CDL trucker schools you are reviewing are in compliance.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in California and employ instructors that are trained and experienced. We will talk more about the teachers in the next segment. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it's any higher, then students will not be getting the personal instruction they will need. This is especially true regarding 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 an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. Most Altadena CA schools provide training programs that run from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Trainers? As earlier mentioned, it's essential that the teachers are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although a number of states have minimum driving time prerequisites to be certified as a teacher, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It's also important that the instructors stay current with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating teachers might be a little more intuitive than other standards, and possibly the best method is to visit the school and speak with the instructors 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 ability to train them.
Plenty of Driving Time? Above all else, an excellent trucking 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 operating 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 gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. Although driving time fluctuates among schools, a good benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish at least 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Altadena CA schools you are considering 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 drive for a specified carrier for a defined period of time. This is called contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So instead of maintaining associations with a wide range of 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 surrendering the flexibility to initially work wherever you choose. Obviously contract training has the potential to limit your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the best way to get affordable training. Just remember to find out if the Altadena CA schools you are looking at are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there 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 available in California, ask if the schools you are considering 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 California testing locations. It is also an indicator that the DMV considers the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Accessible? As formerly noted, truck driver training is just one to two months long. With such a short duration, it's important that the Altadena CA school you enroll in provides flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. As an example, if you're having difficulty learning a particular driving maneuver, then the teacher should be prepared to commit more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you're still working while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Assistance Offered? As soon as you have obtained your commercial driver's license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be eager to start your new profession. Make sure that the schools you are reviewing have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking companies their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a low job placement rate or not many Altadena CA employers hiring their grads, it might be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Given? Trucking schools are similar to colleges and other Altadena CA area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being available. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you understand the options and forms that need to be submitted.