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How to Evaluate a Truck Driving School
When you have determined which CDL you wish to pursue, you can start the process of researching the Fortuna Foothills AZ truck driver schools that you are considering. As already mentioned, location and cost will undoubtedly be your primary concerns. But it can't be stressed enough that they must not be your only considerations. Other issues, for example the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally if not more important. So below are some more points that you need to research while carrying out your due diligence before enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few truck driving schools in the Fortuna Foothills 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 required to become certified, but there are a number of advantages. Prospective 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 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 benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help measure the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in business. A poorly ranked or a fly by night school typically will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the best of Fortuna Foothills AZ schools had to begin from their first day of training, so use it as one of several qualifiers. You can also find out what the school's track record is regarding successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won't supply those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should also maintain relationships with regional and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only affirms a quality reputation within the industry, but also bolsters their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to get in touch with the Arizona licensing department to verify that the CDL trucker schools you are reviewing are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Arizona and hire instructors that are experienced and trained. We will discuss more about the teachers in the following segment. Also, the student to instructor proportion should be no higher than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, then students will not be getting the individual attention they will need. This is especially true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And look out for any school that claims it can train you to drive trucks in a relatively short time period. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. The majority of Fortuna Foothills AZ schools provide training programs that range from three weeks to as long as two months, depending on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Trainers? As already mentioned, it's essential that the teachers are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though several states have minimum driving time criteria to be certified as an instructor, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It's also crucial that the teachers stay current with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating instructors may be a bit more intuitive than other criteria, and possibly the best method is to check out the school and speak with the instructors face to face. You can also speak with a few of the students completing the training and ask if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.
Enough Driving Time? Most importantly, a good truck driver school will furnish ample 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 operating a truck. While the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are important training methods, they are no substitute for actual driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. Although driving time differs among schools, a good benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish no less than 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Fortuna Foothills AZ schools you are looking at and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It's possible to obtain free or discounted training from some trucking schools if you make a commitment to drive for a particular carrier for a defined period of time. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of maintaining relationships with a wide range of trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only refer to one company. The benefit is receiving free or less expensive training by surrendering the flexibility to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Naturally contract training has the potential to reduce your income prospects when starting out. But for some it may be the only way to receive affordable training. Just make sure to find out if the Fortuna Foothills AZ schools you are looking at are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide Onsite CDL Testing? There are a number of states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is available in Arizona, find out if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than battling with graduates of other schools for test times at Arizona testing centers. It is also an indication that the DMV regards the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Convenient? As formerly noted, truck driver training is only about one to two months in length. With such a brief term, it's important that the Fortuna Foothills AZ school you select provides flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. As an example, if you're having a hard time learning a particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be prepared to spend 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 fit in working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Placement Offered? As soon as you have obtained your CDL license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be keen to start your new profession. Make sure that the schools you are considering have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement rate 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 lower job placement rate or not many Fortuna Foothills AZ employers hiring their graduates, it may be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Available? Truck driving schools are similar to colleges and other Fortuna Foothills AZ area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. Ask if the schools you are assessing have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you get through the options and forms that need to be completed.