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How to Research a Truck Driving School
After you have decided which CDL you want to obtain, you can start the process of evaluating the Cave Creek AZ truck driver schools that you are considering. As already discussed, cost and location will no doubt be your primary concerns. But it can't be stressed enough that they must not be your sole considerations. Other issues, for example the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly or even more important. So below are several additional factors that you need to research while conducting your due diligence before selecting, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many truck driver schools in the Cave Creek AZ area are accredited due to the rigorous process and expense to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more prevalent and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are several advantages. Potential students recognize that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will be given lots 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 meet the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help assess the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively ranked or a fly by night school usually will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the top Cave Creek AZ schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also learn what the school's history is regarding successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won't supply those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should also maintain associations with regional and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only points to an excellent reputation within the industry, but also bolsters their job placement program for students. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to get in touch with the Arizona licensing department to confirm that the CDL trucker schools you are considering are in compliance.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in Arizona and employ teachers that are trained and experienced. We will cover more about the instructors in the following segment. Also, the student to instructor ratio should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it's any higher, then students will not be obtaining the personalized instruction they will need. This is especially true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And be critical of any school that insists it can teach you to be a truck driver in a relatively short time period. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. Most Cave Creek AZ schools offer training programs that range from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Teachers? As already stated, it's important that the teachers are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time prerequisites to qualify as an instructor, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also crucial that the instructors stay 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 visit the school and talk to the teachers in person. You can also talk to a few of the students completing the training and find out if they are happy with the quality of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.
Adequate Driving Time? Above all else, a good truck driving school will provide 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. Although the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are necessary training methods, they are no replacement for actual driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. And even though driving time fluctuates among schools, a good benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Cave Creek AZ schools you are researching and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It's possible to receive discounted or even free training from certain truck driving schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a specific carrier for a defined period of time. This is what's known as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of having 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 giving up the freedom to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Obviously contract training has the potential to restrict your income prospects when starting out. But for some it may be the ideal way to receive affordable training. Just make sure to find out if the Cave Creek AZ schools you are looking at are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer CDL Testing Onsite? There are a number of states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its students. If onsite testing is permitted in Arizona, ask if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than contending with graduates from other schools for test times at Arizona testing facilities. It is moreover an indication that the DMV considers the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Accessible? As formerly mentioned, CDL training is only about 1 to 2 months long. With such a brief term, it's imperative that the Cave Creek AZ school you choose provides flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. As an example, if you're having a hard time learning a certain driving maneuver, then the instructor should be willing to dedicate more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you're still employed while going to training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Assistance Offered? As soon as you have acquired your CDL license after graduating from trucking school, you will be keen to begin your new career. Confirm that the schools you are considering have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking companies their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a lower job placement rate or few Cave Creek AZ employers recruiting their grads, it may be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? Trucking schools are similar to colleges and other Cave Creek AZ area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Ask if the schools you are evaluating have a financial assistance department, or at least someone who can help you understand the options and forms that need to be completed.