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How to Evaluate a Truck Driving School
Once you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you would like to obtain, you can start the process of assessing the Bullhead City AZ truck driver schools that you are considering. As earlier discussed, location and cost will no doubt be your primary considerations. But it can't be stressed enough that they must not be your sole considerations. Other factors, for example the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally or even more important. So following are a few additional things that you should research while conducting your due diligence prior to enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many trucking schools in the Bullhead City AZ area are accredited due to the rigorous process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more prevalent and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are several advantages. Prospective students know that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will be given plenty 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 meet the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help evaluate the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively rated or a fly by night school usually will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the top Bullhead City AZ schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also find out what the school's track record is concerning successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won't provide those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should also have relationships with regional and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only confirms a superior reputation within the trade, but also boosts their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to contact the Arizona licensing authority to verify that the CDL trucker schools you are considering are in compliance.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Arizona and hire instructors that are experienced and trained. We will talk more about the instructors in the following segment. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, 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 train you to drive trucks in a comparatively short period of time. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. Most Bullhead City AZ schools provide training courses that run from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Teachers? As previously stated, it's essential that the teachers are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though several states have minimum driving time requirements to qualify as a teacher, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also important that the teachers keep up to date with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing teachers may be a little more subjective than other criteria, and perhaps the best method is to check out the school and talk to the teachers in person. You can also talk to a few of the students going through the training and find out if they are happy with the quality of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.
Sufficient Driving Time? Above all else, an excellent truck driver school will provide ample 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 driving a truck. Even though the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are necessary training methods, they are no substitute for real driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. And even though driving time can vary between schools, a reasonable benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish no less than 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Bullhead 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 a number of trucking schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a particular carrier for a defined amount of time. This is called contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So rather than maintaining relationships with a wide range of trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only work with one company. The tradeoff is receiving free or less expensive training by giving up the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Naturally contract training has the potential to limit your income prospects when starting out. But for some it may be the best way to get affordable training. Just remember to inquire if the Bullhead City AZ schools you are considering are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide Onsite CDL Testing? There are several states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its students. If onsite testing is available in Arizona, ask if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than competing with graduates of competing schools for test times at Arizona testing locations. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV regards the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Convenient? As formerly noted, truck driving training is only about one to two months long. With such a short term, it's imperative that the Bullhead City AZ school you enroll in provides flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. For example, if you're having difficulty learning a certain driving maneuver, then the instructor should be prepared to commit more time with you until you are proficient. And if you're still holding a job while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Assistance Offered? The moment you have acquired your CDL license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be keen to start your new profession. Confirm that the schools you are looking at have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement rate is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking firms their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a low job placement rate or few Bullhead City AZ employers hiring their graduates, it might be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Trucking schools are similar to colleges and other Bullhead City AZ area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Find out if the schools you are assessing have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you get through the options and forms that need to be completed.