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How to Assess a CDL School
As soon as you have decided which CDL you want to pursue, you can begin the undertaking of assessing the Maricopa AZ truck driving schools that you are considering. As already mentioned, cost and location will undoubtedly be your primary concerns. But it can't be stressed enough that they should not be your only concerns. Other factors, including the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly or even more important. So following are several additional things that you should research while carrying out your due diligence before enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many truck driver schools in the Maricopa AZ area are accredited due to the stringent process and cost to the schools. However, certification is more typical and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Potential students know that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will be given lots of driving time. For example, PTDI calls for 44 hours of actual 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 standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help evaluate the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in business. A poorly 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 best of Maricopa AZ schools had to start from their first day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifiers. You can also learn what the school's history is regarding successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won't supply those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally have associations with regional and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only points to an excellent reputation within the industry, but also boosts their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn't hurt to get in touch with the Arizona licensing department to verify that the CDL trucking schools you are reviewing are in good standing.
How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in Arizona and hire teachers that are trained and experienced. We will cover more about the instructors in the following segment. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it's any higher, then students will not be obtaining the personal attention they will need. This is especially 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 drive trucks in a relatively short time frame. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. Most Maricopa AZ schools offer training programs that range from three weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Trainers? As previously stated, it's important that the instructors are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although several states have minimum driving time prerequisites to be certified as an instructor, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It's also vital that the instructors stay up to date with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating instructors might be a bit more intuitive than other standards, and possibly the best approach is to check out the school and talk to the instructors face to face. You can also talk to some of the students going through the training and ask if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.
Adequate Driving Time? Most importantly, a good truck driving school will provide lots 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. Even though the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are important training tools, they are no replacement for actual driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. Although driving time can vary among schools, a good benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide at least 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Maricopa AZ schools you are researching and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It's possible to receive free or discounted training from certain truck driving schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a particular carrier for a defined time period. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So instead of having relationships with numerous 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 be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Obviously contract training has the potential to reduce your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the ideal way to get affordable training. Just remember to inquire if the Maricopa AZ schools you are looking at are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer Onsite CDL Testing? There are a number of states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its grads. If onsite testing is permitted in Arizona, find out if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than competing with graduates from other schools for test times at Arizona testing centers. It is also an indication that the DMV deems the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Convenient? As earlier noted, truck driving training is just one to two months long. With such a short term, it's important that the Maricopa AZ school you choose provides 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 teacher should be willing to commit more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you're still employed while going to training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Assistance Offered? As soon as you have attained your commercial driver's license after graduating from trucking school, you will be impatient to begin your new profession. Make sure that the schools you are looking at have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement rate is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking companies their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a poor job placement rate or not many Maricopa AZ employers hiring their graduates, it may be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Trucking schools are comparable to colleges and other Maricopa AZ area technical or vocational 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 assistance department, or at least someone who can help you understand the options and forms that must be submitted.