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How to Research a Truck Driving School
As soon as you have decided which CDL you would like to obtain, you can begin the undertaking of assessing the Douglas AZ truck driving schools that you are looking at. As previously mentioned, cost and location will certainly be your initial concerns. But it can't be emphasized enough that they should not be your sole considerations. Other factors, including the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally or even more important. So following are several more things that you should research while carrying out your due diligence prior to selecting, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many trucking schools in the Douglas AZ area are accredited because of the stringent process and expense to the schools. However, 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 a number of advantages. Interested students know that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will get an ample amount of driving time. As an example, PTDI requires 44 hours of actual 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 fulfill the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One indicator to help evaluate the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly rated or a fly by night school usually will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the best of Douglas AZ schools had to start from their first day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifiers. You can also learn what the school's track record is concerning successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won't share those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should also have associations with regional and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only confirms a quality reputation within the industry, but also boosts their job assistance program for graduates. 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? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Arizona and employ teachers that are trained and experienced. We will discuss more about the teachers in the next section. Also, the student to instructor ratio should be no higher than 4 to 1. If it's any higher, then students will not be getting the personalized instruction they will need. This is particularly 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 period of time. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. The majority of Douglas AZ schools provide training programs that range from three weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Teachers? As previously stated, it's essential that the teachers are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though a number of 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 important that the instructors keep up to date with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing teachers might be a little more intuitive than other criteria, and perhaps the best method is to pay a visit to the school and talk to the teachers in person. You can also talk to a few of the students completing the training and ask if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher's qualification to train them.
Plenty of Driving Time? Most importantly, an excellent truck driving school will provide lots of 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 essential training methods, they are no alternative for real driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. Although driving time varies among schools, a reasonable standard 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 Douglas AZ schools you are considering and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can receive discounted or even free training from certain truck driver schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a specified 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 maintaining associations with a wide range of 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 surrendering the flexibility to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Clearly contract training has the potential to restrict your income prospects when starting out. But for many it may be the ideal way to get affordable training. Just remember to inquire if the Douglas AZ schools you are looking at are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide Onsite CDL Testing? There are some states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is permitted in Arizona, ask if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to offer it. One benefit 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 believes the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Convenient? As earlier mentioned, truck driver training is only about one to two months in length. With such a brief term, it's important that the Douglas AZ school you enroll in offers flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. As an example, if you're having a hard time learning a particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be prepared to dedicate more time with you until you are proficient. And if you're still employed while going to training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Assistance Offered? As soon as you have attained your CDL license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be eager to begin your new career. Make sure that the schools you are reviewing have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement rate is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking companies their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a low job placement rate or not many Douglas AZ employers hiring their grads, it might be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Trucking schools are comparable to colleges and other Douglas 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 reviewing 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.