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How to Research a Truck Driving School
After you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you want to pursue, you can start the process of evaluating the Flagstaff AZ trucking schools that you are considering. As previously mentioned, location and cost will no doubt be your primary considerations. But it can't be emphasized enough that they must not be your sole concerns. Other factors, including the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally or even more important. So below are some more points that you need to research while performing your due diligence prior to selecting, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many truck driver schools in the Flagstaff 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. Potential students know that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will be given an ample amount of driving time. For example, PTDI mandates 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 curriculum and training will measure up to the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help evaluate the quality of a trucking 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 Flagstaff AZ schools had to begin from their first day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifications. You can also learn what the school's track record is pertaining to successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won't supply those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain associations with regional and national trucking firms. Having a large number of 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 check with the Arizona licensing department to confirm that the CDL trucker schools you are considering are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Arizona and hire instructors that are experienced and trained. We will cover more about the instructors in the next section. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should be no higher than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, 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 be critical of any school that professes it can train you to be a truck driver in a relatively short period of time. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. The majority of Flagstaff AZ schools provide training courses that run from 3 weeks to as long as two months, based on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Trainers? As earlier mentioned, it's important that the teachers are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. 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 crucial that the teachers keep up to date with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing instructors might be a little more intuitive than other criteria, and possibly the ideal approach is to check out the school and talk to the teachers face to face. You can also speak with some 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.
Enough Driving Time? Above all else, an excellent trucking school will provide lots of driving time to its students. Besides, isn't that what it's all about? Driving time is the actual time spent behind the wheel driving a truck. While the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are essential training methods, they are no alternative for real driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. And even though driving time can vary between schools, a reasonable benchmark 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 Flagstaff AZ schools you are looking at and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can get free or discounted training from certain trucking schools if you make a commitment to be a driver for a particular 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 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 free or less expensive training by surrendering the flexibility to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Naturally contract training has the potential to restrict your income opportunities when starting out. But for some it may be the best way to obtain affordable training. Just remember to inquire if the Flagstaff AZ schools you are looking at are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide CDL Testing Onsite? There are several states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is allowed in Arizona, find out if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more convenient than battling with graduates from other schools for test times at Arizona testing facilities. It is also an indication that the DMV deems the approved 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 brief duration, it's imperative that the Flagstaff AZ school you enroll in offers flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. For 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 have it mastered. And if you're still working while attending training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Assistance Offered? As soon as you have received your commercial driver's license after graduating from trucking school, you will be anxious to begin your new profession. Confirm that the schools you are contemplating have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking companies their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a low job placement rate or not many Flagstaff AZ employers hiring their graduates, it might be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Given? Trucking schools are comparable to colleges and other Flagstaff 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 reviewing have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you understand the options and forms that need to be completed.