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How to Assess a CDL School
Once you have decided which CDL you want to pursue, you can begin the undertaking of researching the Bell CA trucking schools that you are looking at. As previously mentioned, cost and location will certainly be your primary concerns. But it can't be stressed enough that they should not be your sole concerns. Other variables, for instance the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally or even more important. So below are several additional points that you need to research while conducting your due diligence prior to choosing, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few truck driving schools in the Bell CA area are accredited due to the rigorous process and expense to the schools. However, certification is more common 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. Prospective students recognize that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will receive lots of driving time. As an example, PTDI mandates 44 hours of real 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 comply with the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help evaluate the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in business. A negatively rated or a fly by night school normally will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the best of Bell CA schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so use it as one of several qualifications. You can also learn what the school's history is concerning successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won't share those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should also maintain relationships with local and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only points to an excellent reputation within the industry, but also bolsters their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to contact the California licensing department to confirm that the CDL trucking schools you are reviewing are in good standing.
How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in California and hire instructors that are experienced and trained. We will discuss more about the teachers in the next segment. 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 personalized attention they will need. This is particularly true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And look out for any school that professes it can teach you to drive trucks in a comparatively short time period. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. Most Bell CA schools provide training courses that range from 3 weeks to as long as two months, based on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Teachers? As already mentioned, it's important that the teachers are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time prerequisites to be certified as a teacher, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It's also important that the teachers keep current with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing teachers might be a bit 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 talk to some of the students going through the training and find out if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.
Plenty of Driving Time? Above all else, a great truck driver school will furnish lots of driving time to its students. Besides, isn't that what it's all about? Driving time is the real time spent behind the wheel driving a truck. While the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are important training methods, they are no replacement for actual driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will become. Although driving time fluctuates among schools, a good standard is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Bell CA schools you are researching and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can receive free or discounted training from some truck driving schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a particular carrier for a defined period of time. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So instead of maintaining relationships with a wide range of 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 giving up the flexibility to initially work wherever you choose. Clearly contract training has the potential to restrict your income opportunities when starting out. But for many it may be the only way to get affordable training. Just make sure to find out if the Bell CA schools you are contemplating are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide Onsite CDL Testing? There are a number of states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its students. If onsite testing is permitted in California, ask if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than contending with graduates from other schools for test times at California testing facilities. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV believes the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Flexible? As earlier noted, truck driver training is just one to two months in length. With such a brief duration, it's essential that the Bell 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 particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be willing to devote more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you're still employed while attending training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Placement Provided? As soon as you have acquired your CDL license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be anxious to begin your new career. Confirm 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 local and national trucking companies their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a low job placement rate or not many Bell CA employers recruiting their grads, it may be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Truck driving schools are comparable to colleges and other Bell CA area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being available. Ask 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.