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How to Evaluate a Truck Driver School

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After you have determined which CDL you would like to obtain, you can start the undertaking of assessing the Prescott AZ truck driver schools that you are looking at. As already discussed, location and cost will undoubtedly be your initial considerations. But it can't be emphasized enough that they should not be your sole considerations. Other issues, including the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly if not more important. So following are some more things that you need to research while carrying out your due diligence prior to selecting, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.

Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many trucking schools in the Prescott AZ area are accredited due to the rigorous process and expense to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more prevalent and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Prospective students recognize that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will be given plenty of driving time. For example, PTDI mandates 44 hours of actual 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 Business? One indicator to help determine the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively rated or a fly by night school usually will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the best of Prescott AZ schools had to start from their first day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also learn what the school's history is concerning successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won't provide those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should also maintain relationships with local and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only confirms a quality reputation within the trade, but also bolsters their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to contact the Arizona licensing authority to verify that the CDL trucker schools you are researching are in good standing.

How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Arizona and hire teachers that are trained and experienced. We will cover more about the instructors in the next segment. Also, the student to instructor proportion should be no higher than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, then students will not be receiving the individual instruction they will need. This is especially true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And watch out for any school that professes it can teach you to drive trucks in a comparatively short time frame. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. Most Prescott AZ schools offer training courses that run from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the license class or kind of vehicle.

How Good are the Teachers? As already stated, it's important that the teachers are trained to teach driving techniques 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 an instructor has the better. It's also vital that the teachers stay current with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating instructors may be a little more intuitive than other criteria, and perhaps the best approach is to visit the school and talk to 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 ability to train them.

Adequate Driving Time? Above all else, a great truck driving school will provide plenty of 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. Although the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are necessary training methods, they are no alternative for actual driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will become. Although driving time varies among schools, a good standard is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide no less than 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Prescott AZ schools you are researching and ask how much driving time they furnish.

Are they Captive or Independent ? It's possible to obtain discounted or even free training from some truck driving schools if you make a commitment to drive for a specific carrier for a defined amount of time. This is what's known as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So rather than having associations with numerous trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only work with one company. The benefit is receiving free or less expensive training by giving up the freedom to initially work wherever you choose. Clearly contract training has the potential to reduce your income prospects when starting out. But for some it may be the best way to get affordable training. Just remember to find out if the Prescott AZ schools you are looking at are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.

Offer Onsite CDL Testing? There are some states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is available in Arizona, ask if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than contending with graduates of other schools for test times at Arizona testing locations. It is also an indicator that the DMV views the approved schools to be of a higher quality.

Are the Class Times Accessible? As earlier noted, truck driver training is only about one to two months in length. With such a brief term, it's important that the Prescott AZ school you enroll in provides flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. For example, if you're having difficulty learning a certain driving maneuver, then the instructor should be willing 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 responsibilities.

Is Job Assistance Offered? The moment you have obtained your commercial driver's license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be eager to begin your new career. Verify that the schools you are contemplating have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement rate is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking companies their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a poor job placement rate or few Prescott AZ employers hiring their grads, it may be a sign to look elsewhere.

Is Financial Assistance Offered? Trucking schools are much like colleges and other Prescott AZ area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being offered. Find out if the schools you are assessing have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you understand the options and forms that need to be submitted.

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