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How to Research a CDL School
When you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you would like to pursue, you can start the process of evaluating the Picture Rocks AZ truck driving schools that you are looking at. As already mentioned, location and cost will undoubtedly be your primary considerations. But it can't be stressed enough that they should not be your only considerations. Other variables, for example the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally or even more important. So following are some more things that you should research while conducting your due diligence prior to choosing, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few truck driver schools in the Picture Rocks AZ area are accredited due to the stringent process and cost to the schools. However, 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 a number of advantages. Prospective students know that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will be given lots of driving time. As an example, PTDI mandates 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 curriculum and training will satisfy the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One indicator to help evaluate the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively reviewed or a fly by night school typically will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the top Picture Rocks AZ schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also ask what the school's track record is concerning successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won't provide those numbers, 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 trade, but also bolsters their job placement program for students. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to get in touch with the Arizona licensing authority to verify that the CDL trucker schools you are considering are in compliance.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in Arizona and hire teachers that are experienced and trained. We will discuss more about the instructors in the next section. Also, the student to instructor ratio should not be higher 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 regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And watch out for any school that claims it can teach you to drive trucks in a relatively short period of time. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. Most Picture Rocks AZ schools offer training programs that range from three weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Trainers? As already mentioned, it's important that the teachers are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though several states have minimum driving time prerequisites to qualify as an instructor, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It's also crucial that the teachers stay current with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing teachers may be a little more subjective than other criteria, and possibly the ideal method is to check out 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.
Adequate Driving Time? Most importantly, a great truck driver school will furnish ample driving time to its students. Besides, 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 necessary training tools, 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 varies between schools, a good benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish no less than 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Picture Rocks AZ schools you are considering and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can obtain free or discounted training from some truck driving schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a specific carrier for a defined period of time. This is called contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than having associations with many different trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only refer to one company. The tradeoff is receiving free or less expensive training by surrendering the flexibility to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Naturally contract training has the potential to reduce your income opportunities when starting out. But for some it may be the best way to obtain affordable training. Just be sure to inquire if the Picture Rocks AZ schools you are considering are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide CDL Testing Onsite? There are some states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its students. If onsite testing is available in Arizona, find out if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than competing with graduates of competing schools for test times at Arizona testing locations. It is also an indicator that the DMV considers the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Flexible? As earlier noted, truck driving training is only about one to two months in length. With such a brief duration, it's essential that the Picture Rocks AZ school you choose offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. For example, if you're having a hard time learning a particular driving maneuver, then the instructor 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 accommodate working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Assistance Offered? As soon as you have acquired your CDL license after graduating from trucking school, you will be anxious to begin your new profession. Confirm that the schools you are contemplating have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement rate is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking firms their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a low job placement rate or not many Picture Rocks AZ employers recruiting their graduates, it may be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Trucking schools are much like colleges and other Picture Rocks 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 examining have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that must be completed.