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How to Research a Truck Driving School
After you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you would like to obtain, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating the Cottonwood AZ truck driving schools that you are looking at. As earlier discussed, location and cost will certainly be your primary concerns. But it can't be emphasized enough that they must not be your sole considerations. Other factors, for example the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally or even more important. So below are a few more points that you should research while carrying out your due diligence before choosing, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few truck driving schools in the Cottonwood AZ area are accredited due to the demanding process and expense to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more typical and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are several advantages. Interested students recognize that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will get an ample amount of driving time. For example, PTDI mandates 44 hours of actual driving time, not ride-alongs or simulations. So if a school's course is certified (the course, not the school is certified), students know that the curriculum and training will measure up to 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 ranked or a fly by night school typically will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the top Cottonwood AZ schools had to start from their first day of training, so use it as one of several qualifications. You can also ask what the school's history is pertaining to successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won't provide those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should also have associations with regional and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only points to a quality reputation within the trade, but also boosts their job placement program for students. It also wouldn't hurt to check with the Arizona licensing authority to verify that the CDL trucking schools you are reviewing are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in Arizona and employ instructors that are trained and experienced. We will discuss more about the teachers in the following segment. 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 instruction they will need. This is particularly true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And look out for any school that insists it can teach you to drive trucks in a comparatively short time frame. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. Most Cottonwood AZ schools offer training courses that run from 3 weeks to as long as two months, depending on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Trainers? As previously stated, it's important that the instructors are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though several states have minimum driving time requirements to be certified as an instructor, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also vital that the teachers keep current with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing instructors may be a bit more intuitive than other standards, and possibly the best method is to visit the school and talk to the teachers face to face. You can also talk to some of the students completing the training and ask if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher's qualification to train them.
Plenty of Driving Time? Above all else, a great truck driver school will provide ample driving time to its students. Besides, isn't that what it's all about? Driving time is the actual time spent behind the wheel operating a truck. While the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are important training tools, they are no substitute for real driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he 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 provide a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Cottonwood AZ schools you are researching and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can obtain free or discounted training from a number of truck driver schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a specified carrier for a defined period of time. This is what's known as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So instead of maintaining relationships with numerous trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only refer to one company. The benefit is receiving less expensive or even free training by giving up the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Naturally contract training has the potential to reduce your income prospects when starting out. But for many it may be the best way to get affordable training. Just be sure to find out if the Cottonwood AZ schools you are contemplating 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 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 convenient than competing with graduates of competing schools for test times at Arizona testing facilities. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV believes the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Convenient? As formerly noted, CDL training is just one to two months long. With such a short duration, it's imperative that the Cottonwood AZ school you choose provides flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. For example, if you're having a hard time learning a particular 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 commitments.
Is Job Assistance Provided? The moment you have attained your commercial driver's license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be keen to begin your new career. Confirm that the schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking companies their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a lower job placement rate or not many Cottonwood AZ employers hiring their grads, it might be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? Truck driving schools are comparable to colleges and other Cottonwood AZ area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. Ask if the schools you are examining have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you understand the options and forms that need to be submitted.