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How to Research a Trucking School
As soon as you have determined which CDL you want to obtain, you can start the process of researching the Catalina AZ truck driving schools that you are looking at. As already discussed, cost and location will undoubtedly be your initial concerns. But it can't be stressed enough that they should not be your only concerns. Other variables, for example the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly or even more important. So below are some additional factors that you need to research while performing your due diligence before enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few truck driving schools in the Catalina AZ area are accredited due to the demanding process and expense to the schools. However, 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 a number of advantages. Interested students recognize that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will receive an ample amount of driving time. As an example, PTDI requires 44 hours of real 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 training and curriculum will satisfy the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One indicator to help evaluate the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly rated or a fly by night school typically will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the top Catalina AZ schools had to start from their first day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also find out what the school's track record is regarding successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won't provide those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally have relationships with local and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only confirms a superior reputation within the trade, but also bolsters their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn't hurt to check with the Arizona licensing department to make sure that the CDL trucking schools you are reviewing are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in Arizona and hire teachers that are experienced and trained. We will discuss more about the teachers in the following segment. Also, the student to instructor ratio should not be greater than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, then students will not be getting the personalized instruction they will need. This is especially true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And watch out for any school that claims it can train you to drive trucks in a comparatively short time frame. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. The majority of Catalina AZ schools provide training courses that range from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Instructors? As previously stated, it's important that the teachers are qualified 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 a teacher has the better. It's also vital that the teachers stay up to date with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating teachers might be a bit more subjective than other standards, and possibly the best approach is to check out the school and talk to the teachers face to face. You can also talk to a few of the students going through the training and ask if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.
Sufficient Driving Time? Most importantly, 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 real time spent behind the wheel operating a truck. While the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are essential training tools, they are no substitute for real driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. Although driving time differs among schools, a reasonable standard is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide at least 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Catalina AZ schools you are looking at and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can receive discounted or even free training from some truck driving schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a specified carrier for a defined amount of time. This is called contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than maintaining affiliations with a wide range of trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, 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 have an opportunity. Naturally contract training has the potential to limit your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the only way to get affordable training. Just be sure to find out if the Catalina AZ schools you are looking at are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there CDL Testing Onsite? There are some states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its grads. If onsite testing is permitted in Arizona, find out if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than battling with graduates from other schools for test times at Arizona testing facilities. It is also an indicator that the DMV believes the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Flexible? As earlier mentioned, truck driving training is just 1 to 2 months long. With such a short duration, it's essential that the Catalina AZ school you choose offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. For 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 are proficient. And if you're still holding a job while going to training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Assistance Offered? The moment you have obtained your CDL license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be anxious to begin your new profession. Confirm that the schools you are looking at have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking firms their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a low job placement rate or few Catalina AZ employers hiring their graduates, it might be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Trucking schools are similar to colleges and other Catalina AZ area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. Find out if the schools you are examining have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you understand the options and forms that must be submitted.