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How to Evaluate a Trucking School
As soon as you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you want to obtain, you can begin the undertaking of researching the Arcadia CA trucking schools that you are considering. As already mentioned, location and cost will certainly be your primary concerns. But it can't be emphasized enough that they must not be your only concerns. Other variables, for example the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally or even more important. So following are several additional factors that you should research while performing your due diligence before choosing, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few trucking schools in the Arcadia CA area are accredited because of the stringent process and expense to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more common 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 mandates 44 hours of actual 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 measure up to the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One indicator to help evaluate the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively reviewed or a fly by night school usually will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the best of Arcadia CA schools had to begin from their first day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifications. You can also ask what the school's history is pertaining to successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won't share those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain associations with regional and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only confirms an excellent reputation within the profession, but also bolsters their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to get in touch with the California licensing authority to verify that the CDL trucker schools you are considering are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in California and hire teachers that are trained and experienced. We will talk more about the teachers in the next segment. Also, the student to instructor proportion should not be greater than 4 to 1. If it's any higher, then students will not be receiving the personalized instruction 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 professes it can teach you to be a truck driver in a relatively short period of time. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. Most Arcadia CA schools provide training programs that range 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 essential that the instructors are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time requirements to be certified as a teacher, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also crucial that the teachers keep current with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing teachers may be a little more subjective than other criteria, and possibly the best method is to visit the school and speak with the instructors in person. You can also talk to some of the students going through the training and find out if they are satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.
Plenty of Driving Time? Most importantly, a good truck driving school will furnish lots of 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 necessary training tools, they are no replacement for real driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. And even though driving time differs between schools, a reasonable benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide at least 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Arcadia CA schools you are researching and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can obtain free or discounted training from certain truck driving schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a specific carrier for a defined amount of time. This is called contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So instead of maintaining associations with numerous trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only work with one company. The benefit is receiving less expensive or even free training by surrendering the freedom to initially work wherever you choose. Obviously contract training has the potential to reduce your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the only way to receive affordable training. Just make sure to ask if the Arcadia CA schools you are looking at are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer Onsite CDL Testing? There are a number of states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its students. If onsite testing is allowed in California, ask if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than battling with graduates of other schools for test times at California testing centers. It is also an indication that the DMV regards the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Flexible? As earlier noted, CDL training is only about 1 to 2 months long. With such a short term, it's important that the Arcadia CA school you choose offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. For example, if you're having a hard time learning a certain driving maneuver, then the teacher should be willing to devote 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 commitments.
Is Job Placement Offered? The moment you have received your commercial driver's license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be impatient to start your new career. Make sure that the schools you are considering have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement rate 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 poor job placement rate or few Arcadia CA employers hiring their grads, it may be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Given? Trucking schools are much like colleges and other Arcadia 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 evaluating have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that must be completed.