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How to Assess a Truck Driver School
When you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you would like to obtain, you can begin the undertaking of researching the Rio Rico AZ truck driver schools that you are considering. As already mentioned, location and cost will undoubtedly be your initial considerations. But it can't be emphasized enough that they should not be your only concerns. Other variables, for example the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally or even more important. So following are some additional factors that you should research while performing your due diligence prior to selecting, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few truck driving schools in the Rio Rico AZ area are accredited due to the demanding process and cost to the schools. However, 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. Interested students know that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will receive lots of driving time. As an example, PTDI requires 44 hours of real 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 fulfill the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help assess the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in business. A poorly rated or a fly by night school usually will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the best of Rio Rico AZ schools had to start from their first day of training, so use it as one of several qualifications. You can also ask what the school's history is pertaining to successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won't share those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should also maintain relationships with regional and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only points to an excellent reputation within the trade, but also bolsters their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to get in touch with the Arizona licensing authority to confirm that the CDL trucking 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 trained and experienced. We will discuss more about the teachers in the following section. 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 personalized instruction they will need. This is particularly true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And look out for any school that professes it can train you to drive trucks in a comparatively short time period. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. The majority of Rio Rico AZ schools offer training courses that range from 3 weeks to as long as two months, based on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Trainers? As already stated, it's essential that the teachers are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although a number of 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 stay current with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing instructors may be a bit more intuitive than other criteria, and perhaps the best method is to check out the school and talk to the instructors face to face. You can also talk to some of the students completing the training and find out if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher's qualification to train them.
Sufficient Driving Time? Above all else, an excellent trucking school will provide ample driving time to its students. Besides, 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 tools, they are no replacement for actual driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. And even though driving time fluctuates between schools, a reasonable benchmark 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 Rio Rico AZ schools you are researching and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It's possible to obtain discounted or even free training from certain trucking schools if you make a commitment to drive for a specific carrier for a defined amount of time. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So rather than maintaining associations with a wide range of 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 freedom to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Clearly contract training has the potential to reduce your income prospects when starting out. But for some it may be the ideal way to obtain affordable training. Just make sure to ask if the Rio Rico AZ schools you are contemplating are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide Onsite CDL Testing? There are some states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is permitted in Arizona, ask if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more convenient than contending with graduates of competing schools for test times at Arizona testing centers. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV regards the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Accessible? As formerly noted, truck driving training is only about 1 to 2 months long. With such a short term, it's essential that the Rio Rico AZ school you select 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 commit more time with you until you are proficient. And if you're still holding a job while going to training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Assistance Provided? The moment you have acquired your CDL license after graduating from trucking school, you will be keen to begin your new career. Confirm that the schools you are reviewing have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking firms their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a poor job placement rate or not many Rio Rico AZ employers hiring their grads, it might be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Truck driver schools are comparable to colleges and other Rio Rico AZ area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Ask if the schools you are evaluating have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you understand the options and forms that need to be submitted.