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How to Assess a Truck Driver School
When you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you wish to obtain, you can start the process of researching the Gilbert AZ truck driving schools that you are looking at. As previously mentioned, location and cost will undoubtedly be your initial considerations. But it can't be emphasized enough that they must not be your only concerns. Other factors, including the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly if not more important. So following are a few additional factors that you should research while conducting your due diligence prior to selecting, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many truck driver schools in the Gilbert AZ area are accredited because of the demanding process and cost to the schools. However, certification is more common and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are several advantages. Prospective students know that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will be given plenty 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 course is certified (the course, not the school is certified), students know that the training and curriculum will fulfill the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One indicator to help determine the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly rated or a fly by night school typically will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the top Gilbert AZ schools had to start from their opening day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also learn what the school's track record is regarding successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won't share those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally have relationships with local and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only affirms a superior reputation within the trade, but also bolsters their job placement program for students. It also wouldn't hurt to get in touch with the Arizona licensing authority to confirm that the CDL trucking schools you are considering are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Arizona and hire instructors that are trained and experienced. We will discuss more about the instructors in the following segment. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it's any higher, then students will not be receiving the personalized attention 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 claims it can teach you to be a truck driver in a relatively short time frame. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. Most Gilbert AZ schools offer training courses that run from three weeks to as long as two months, depending on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Trainers? As previously mentioned, it's essential that the instructors are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though several states have minimum driving time requirements to qualify as an instructor, the more professional 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 may be a bit more subjective than other standards, and perhaps the ideal method is to visit the school and speak with the teachers in person. You can also speak with some of the students going through the training and ask if they are happy with the quality of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.
Enough Driving Time? Most importantly, an excellent truck driving school will provide 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 driving a truck. While the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are necessary training tools, they are no alternative for actual driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. Although driving time differs among schools, a reasonable benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish at least 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Gilbert AZ schools you are looking at and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can get discounted or even free training from some trucking schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a specific carrier for a defined time period. This is what's known as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of maintaining associations with numerous trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only work with one company. The benefit is receiving free or less expensive training by surrendering the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Obviously contract training has the potential to limit your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the only way to obtain affordable training. Just make sure to find out if the Gilbert 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 allow third party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is available in Arizona, find out if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to offer it. One benefit is that it is more convenient than battling with graduates of competing schools for test times at Arizona testing facilities. It is also an indicator that the DMV deems the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Flexible? As previously mentioned, truck driver training is only about one to two months long. With such a brief duration, it's important that the Gilbert AZ school you choose offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. For example, if you're having a hard time learning a certain driving maneuver, then the instructor should be willing to commit more time with you until you are proficient. And if you're still working while attending training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Assistance Offered? The moment you have attained your CDL license after graduating from trucking school, you will be impatient to start your new profession. Confirm that the schools you are looking at have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking firms their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a lower job placement rate or few Gilbert AZ employers hiring their grads, it might be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Given? Trucking schools are similar to colleges and other Gilbert AZ area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Ask if the schools you are assessing have a financial assistance department, or at least someone who can help you understand the options and forms that need to be submitted.