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How to Assess a Trucking School
When you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you want to obtain, you can start the process of assessing the Payson AZ trucking schools that you are considering. As previously mentioned, cost and location will certainly be your primary concerns. But it can't be stressed enough that they must not be your only concerns. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly or even more important. So below are some additional things that you should research while performing your due diligence before enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few truck driving schools in the Payson AZ area are accredited due to the demanding process and expense to the schools. However, 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. Prospective students recognize that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will receive plenty of driving time. As an example, PTDI calls for 44 hours of real 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 curriculum and training will comply with the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One clue to help measure the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in business. A negatively rated or a fly by night school typically will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the best of Payson AZ schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so use it as one of several qualifications. You can also find out what the school's history is relating to successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won't share those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should also have relationships with regional and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only confirms a quality reputation within the profession, but also bolsters their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn't hurt to get in touch with the Arizona licensing department to confirm that the CDL trucker schools you are reviewing are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Arizona and hire instructors that are trained and experienced. We will cover more about the instructors in the next 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 getting the personalized attention they will need. This is especially true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And look out for any school that professes it can teach you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short time frame. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. The majority of Payson AZ schools provide training programs that run from three weeks to as long as two months, based on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Trainers? As earlier stated, it's essential that the instructors are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though several states have minimum driving time criteria to qualify as an instructor, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also crucial that the teachers keep current with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing teachers may be a little more subjective than other criteria, and possibly the ideal approach is to pay a visit to the school and speak with the instructors in person. You can also speak with some of the students completing the training and ask if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher's qualification to train them.
Plenty of Driving Time? Most importantly, a good truck driver school will furnish sufficient 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 necessary training tools, they are no alternative for actual driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. And even though driving time varies among schools, a good standard is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide no less than 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Payson AZ schools you are considering and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It's possible to get free or discounted training from certain truck driving schools if you make a commitment to drive for a particular carrier for a defined amount of time. This is called contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of maintaining relationships with numerous trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only work with one company. The benefit is receiving less expensive or even free training by surrendering the flexibility to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Naturally contract training has the potential to reduce your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the only way to obtain affordable training. Just be sure to ask if the Payson AZ schools you are contemplating 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 truck driving schools for its grads. 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 convenient than battling with graduates of other 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 Class Times Convenient? As earlier mentioned, truck driver training is just 1 to 2 months long. With such a short duration, it's important that the Payson 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 instructor should be prepared to spend more time with you until you are proficient. And if you're still holding a job while attending training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Assistance Offered? The moment you have obtained your CDL license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be eager to begin your new career. Verify that the schools you are contemplating have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking companies their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a lower job placement rate or few Payson AZ employers recruiting their grads, it might be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Given? Truck driver schools are similar to colleges and other Payson AZ area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. Ask if the schools you are assessing have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you get through the options and forms that need to be submitted.