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How to Assess a CDL School
When you have decided which CDL you want to pursue, you can start the process of researching the Arizona City AZ truck driver schools that you are considering. As previously discussed, cost and location will no doubt be your initial concerns. But it can't be stressed enough that they should not be your sole concerns. Other factors, such as the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly if not more important. So below are some more factors that you need to research while conducting your due diligence prior to selecting, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many truck driver schools in the Arizona City AZ area are accredited because of the stringent process and cost to the schools. However, certification is more prevalent and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Prospective students recognize that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will receive an ample amount of driving time. As an example, PTDI calls for 44 hours of actual driving time, not simulations or ride-alongs. So if a school's program is certified (the program, not the school is certified), students know that the curriculum and training will comply with the very high standards 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 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 top Arizona City AZ schools had to start from their first day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifiers. You can also find out what the school's track record is pertaining to successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won't share those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally have relationships with regional and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only confirms an excellent reputation within the trade, but also bolsters their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to contact the Arizona licensing authority to confirm that the CDL trucking schools you are considering are in compliance.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Arizona and hire instructors that are trained and experienced. We will discuss more about the instructors in the next section. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it's any higher, then students will not be getting the personal attention they will need. This is especially true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And watch out for any school that claims it can train you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short time frame. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. Most Arizona City AZ schools provide training programs that range from three weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Trainers? As previously stated, it's imperative that the instructors are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although several states have minimum driving time criteria to be certified as a teacher, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also crucial that the teachers stay current with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing instructors might be a little more subjective than other criteria, and perhaps the best method is to check out the school and talk to the instructors in person. You can also speak with some 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.
How Much Driving Time? Above all else, a great trucking school will furnish sufficient driving time to its students. After all, isn't that what it's all about? Driving time is the actual 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 alternative for actual driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. Although driving time can vary among schools, a good 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 Arizona City AZ schools you are looking at and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can receive free or discounted training from certain truck driver schools if you make a commitment to be a driver for a particular carrier for a defined amount of time. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of having relationships with many different trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only work with one company. The tradeoff is receiving less expensive or even free training by giving up the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Clearly contract training has the potential to restrict your income prospects when starting out. But for some it may be the only way to get affordable training. Just make sure to find out if the Arizona City 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 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is available in Arizona, ask if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to offer it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than battling with graduates from competing schools for test times at Arizona testing facilities. It is also an indication that the DMV views the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Convenient? As earlier noted, truck driving training is only about one to two months long. With such a brief term, it's important that the Arizona City AZ school you enroll in offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. As an 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 have it mastered. And if you're still working while going to training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Placement Provided? As soon as you have attained your commercial driver's license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be eager to start your new career. Make sure that the schools you are considering have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement rate is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking companies their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a poor job placement rate or few Arizona City AZ employers recruiting their graduates, it might be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Truck driving schools are much like colleges and other Arizona City AZ area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being offered. Find out if the schools you are assessing have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that must be completed.