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How to Research a Truck Driver School
As soon as you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you want to obtain, you can start the process of researching the Lake Montezuma AZ truck driver schools that you are considering. As already discussed, location and cost will undoubtedly be your initial considerations. But it can't be emphasized enough that they must 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 below are a few more factors that you should research while performing your due diligence prior to enrolling in, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few truck driver schools in the Lake Montezuma AZ area are accredited because of the stringent process and expense to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more commonplace and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are several advantages. Interested students recognize that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will be given plenty of driving time. As an example, PTDI mandates 44 hours of real 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 meet the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help evaluate the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in business. A poorly reviewed or a fly by night school normally will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the best of Lake Montezuma AZ schools had to begin from their first day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifications. You can also find out what the school's track record is pertaining to successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. 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 confirms a quality reputation within the industry, but also boosts 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 reviewing are in good standing.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Arizona and employ instructors that are experienced and trained. We will discuss more about the teachers in the next section. 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 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 claims it can teach you to drive trucks in a relatively short time period. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. Most Lake Montezuma AZ schools provide training courses that range from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Trainers? As previously mentioned, it's essential that the instructors are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time prerequisites to qualify as an instructor, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also vital that the instructors stay up to date with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating teachers might be a little more subjective than other criteria, and perhaps the best approach is to pay a visit to the school and talk to the teachers face to face. You can also speak with a few of the students going through the training and ask if they are satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher's qualification to train them.
Adequate Driving Time? Above all else, an excellent trucking 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 driving a truck. While the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are necessary training methods, they are no alternative for real driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. And even though driving time varies between schools, a reasonable standard is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish no less than 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Lake Montezuma AZ schools you are looking at and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It's possible to obtain discounted or even free training from certain truck driver schools if you make a commitment to drive for a particular carrier for a defined amount of time. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than having relationships with many different trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only refer to one company. The tradeoff 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 limit your income prospects when starting out. But for many it may be the ideal way to obtain affordable training. Just be sure to inquire if the Lake Montezuma AZ schools you are considering are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there CDL Testing Onsite? There are some states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its students. If onsite testing is allowed in Arizona, ask if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than competing with graduates from competing schools for test times at Arizona testing locations. It is also an indicator that the DMV deems the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Accessible? As earlier noted, truck driver training is only about 1 to 2 months long. With such a short duration, it's important that the Lake Montezuma AZ school you select offers flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. For example, if you're having difficulty learning a certain driving maneuver, then the instructor should be willing to dedicate more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you're still holding a job while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Assistance Provided? As soon as you have acquired your commercial driver's license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be keen to begin your new profession. Make sure 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, find out which local and national trucking firms their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a low job placement rate or not many Lake Montezuma AZ employers hiring their graduates, it might be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Trucking schools are much like colleges and other Lake Montezuma AZ area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Find out if the schools you are examining have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you get through the options and forms that need to be submitted.