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How to Assess a Truck Driver School
When you have decided which CDL you want to obtain, you can start the process of assessing the Goodyear AZ trucking schools that you are considering. As already mentioned, location and cost will undoubtedly be your initial considerations. But it can't be stressed enough that they must not be your sole concerns. Other factors, for example the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally if not more important. So following are several more factors that you need to research while carrying out your due diligence prior to enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few truck driver schools in the Goodyear AZ area are accredited due to 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 certain advantages. Potential students recognize that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will receive an ample amount of driving time. As an example, PTDI mandates 44 hours of real driving time, not ride-alongs or simulations. So if a school's program is certified (the program, not the school is certified), students know that the curriculum and training will comply with the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One indicator to help assess the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in business. A negatively rated 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 Goodyear AZ schools had to start from their opening day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also learn what the school's history is relating to successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won't share those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain associations with regional and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only affirms a quality reputation within the profession, but also boosts 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 researching are in compliance.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Arizona and hire instructors that are experienced and trained. We will discuss more about the teachers in the following section. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should not be greater than 4 to 1. If it's any higher, then students will not be obtaining the personal attention 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 train you to be a truck driver in a relatively short time frame. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. Most Goodyear AZ schools provide training courses that run from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Trainers? As already mentioned, it's essential that the teachers are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although several states have minimum driving time requirements to qualify as a teacher, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also crucial that the teachers stay up to date with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing instructors might be a bit more intuitive than other criteria, and possibly the best method is to check out the school and talk to the instructors face to face. You can also talk to a few of the students completing the training and find out if they are happy with the quality of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.
Plenty of Driving Time? Above all else, a great truck driving school will provide plenty 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 operating a truck. While the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are important training methods, they are no alternative for real driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will become. And even though driving time differs among schools, a reasonable benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Goodyear AZ schools you are looking at and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can get discounted or even free training from some truck driver schools if you make a commitment to be a driver for a specified carrier for a defined period of time. This is called contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of having relationships with many different 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 giving up the freedom to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Naturally contract training has the potential to limit your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the only way to receive affordable training. Just make sure to inquire if the Goodyear AZ schools you are looking at are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide CDL Testing Onsite? There are a number of states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its students. If onsite testing is available in Arizona, ask if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more convenient than competing with graduates of other schools for test times at Arizona testing locations. It is also an indication that the DMV regards the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Accessible? As formerly noted, truck driving training is just 1 to 2 months long. With such a brief duration, it's essential that the Goodyear AZ school you choose provides 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 devote more time with you until you are proficient. And if you're still holding a job while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Assistance Provided? Once you have received your commercial driver's license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be keen to begin your new profession. Verify that the schools you are considering have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement rate is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking firms their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a low job placement rate or few Goodyear AZ employers hiring their grads, it may be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Trucking schools are much like colleges and other Goodyear 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 must be completed.