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How to Assess a Truck Driving School

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Once you have decided which CDL you want to obtain, you can begin the process of researching the Nogales AZ truck driving schools that you are considering. As previously discussed, 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 issues, such as the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally or even more important. So following are a few more things that you should research while carrying out your due diligence prior to choosing, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.

Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many trucking schools in the Nogales AZ area are accredited because of the demanding process and cost 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 required to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Interested students know that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will receive plenty of driving time. For example, PTDI requires 44 hours of actual driving time, not ride-alongs or simulations. 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 Business? One clue to help evaluate the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly ranked or a fly by night school normally will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the best of Nogales AZ schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also ask what the school's track record is regarding successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won't provide those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should also have associations with regional and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only confirms a quality reputation within the industry, but also bolsters their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn't hurt to get in touch with the Arizona licensing authority to make sure that the CDL trucking schools you are reviewing are in compliance.

How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in Arizona and employ instructors that are trained and experienced. We will talk more about the instructors in the following segment. Also, the student to instructor proportion should be no higher than 4 to 1. If it's any higher, then students will not be getting the personalized attention they will need. This is particularly true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And watch out for any school that insists it can train you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short time period. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. Most Nogales AZ schools provide training programs that run from three weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the license class or type of vehicle.

How Good are the Instructors? As previously mentioned, it's imperative that the teachers are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though 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 instructors keep current with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing teachers might be a little more subjective than other standards, and perhaps the ideal method is to pay a visit to the school and speak with the teachers face to face. You can also talk to some of the students going through the training and find out if they are happy with the quality of instruction and the teacher's qualification to train them.

How Much Driving Time? Most importantly, an excellent trucking school will provide ample driving time to its students. After all, isn't that what it's all about? Driving time is the real time spent behind the wheel driving 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 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 at least 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Nogales AZ schools you are considering and ask how much driving time they furnish.

Are they Captive or Independent ? You can receive discounted or even free training from a number of trucking schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a specified carrier for a defined period of time. This is what's known as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So instead of maintaining associations with many different trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only work with one company. The tradeoff is receiving free or less expensive training by surrendering the flexibility to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Obviously contract training has the potential to restrict your income prospects when starting out. But for some it may be the best way to receive affordable training. Just remember to find out if the Nogales AZ schools you are looking at are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.

Provide Onsite CDL Testing? There are several states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is allowed in Arizona, ask 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 competing schools for test times at Arizona testing locations. It is also an indicator that the DMV believes the approved schools to be of a superior quality.

Are the Class Times Flexible? As earlier mentioned, truck driving training is only about 1 to 2 months in length. With such a short duration, it's important that the Nogales AZ school you choose offers flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. As an example, if you're having difficulty learning a particular driving maneuver, then the teacher should be prepared to spend more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you're still employed while attending training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other obligations.

Is Job Assistance Provided? As soon as you have obtained your commercial driver's license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be anxious to begin your new career. Confirm that the schools you are reviewing have job placement 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 hiring. If a school has a low job placement rate or few Nogales AZ employers hiring their graduates, it might be a clue to search elsewhere.

Is Financial Aid Given? Truck driving schools are much like colleges and other Nogales AZ area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being offered. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you understand the options and forms that must be submitted.

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