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How to Evaluate a CDL School

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After you have decided which CDL you wish to pursue, you can begin the process of researching the Safford AZ trucking schools that you are looking at. As earlier discussed, cost and location will certainly be your initial considerations. But it can't be stressed enough that they must not be your sole considerations. Other factors, such as the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally or even more important. So following are a few more points that you should research while performing your due diligence prior to choosing, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.

Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many truck driving schools in the Safford AZ area are accredited because of the demanding process and cost 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 obligated to become certified, but there are a number of advantages. Prospective students know that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will receive lots of driving time. For example, PTDI requires 44 hours of real driving time, not simulations or ride-alongs. So if a school's program is certified (the program, not the school is certified), students know that the training and curriculum will fulfill the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.

How Long in Business? One clue to help assess the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in business. A negatively ranked or a fly by night school usually will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the best of Safford 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 history is relating to successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won't supply those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally have relationships with local and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only confirms a superior reputation within the industry, but also boosts their job placement program for students. It also wouldn't hurt to contact the Arizona licensing department to make sure that the CDL trucking schools you are researching are in good standing.

How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Arizona and hire teachers that are experienced and trained. We will discuss more about the instructors in the next segment. Also, the student to instructor ratio should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, then students will not be obtaining the individual 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 claims it can teach you to be a truck driver in a relatively short period of time. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. Most Safford AZ schools provide training courses 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 previously mentioned, it's essential that the teachers are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although a number of states have minimum driving time requirements to be certified as a teacher, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It's also crucial that the instructors stay up to date with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing instructors may be a little more intuitive than other standards, and possibly the best approach is to visit the school and talk to the teachers face to face. You can also speak with a few of the students completing the training and find out if they are happy with the quality of instruction and the teacher's qualification to train them.

Sufficient Driving Time? Above all else, a good trucking school will provide ample driving time to its students. After all, isn't that what it's all about? Driving time is the actual time spent behind the wheel operating a truck. Even though the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are essential training methods, they are no substitute for real driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will become. Although driving time differs between schools, a reasonable benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide at least 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Safford AZ schools you are looking at and find out how much driving time they provide.

Are they Captive or Independent ? You can get discounted or even free training from a number of truck driving schools if you make a commitment to drive for a specified carrier for a defined time period. This is what's known as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So instead of maintaining affiliations with numerous trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, 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 restrict your income opportunities when starting out. But for some it may be the only way to receive affordable training. Just remember to inquire if the Safford AZ schools you are looking at are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.

Provide CDL Testing Onsite? There are a number of states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its students. If onsite testing is permitted in Arizona, find out if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to offer it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than competing with graduates from competing schools for test times at Arizona testing centers. It is also an indication that the DMV deems the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.

Are the Class Times Accessible? As previously noted, CDL training is just 1 to 2 months long. With such a short duration, it's important that the Safford AZ school you select offers flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. For example, if you're having a hard time learning a particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be prepared to dedicate more time with you until you are proficient. And if you're still working while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other responsibilities.

Is Job Assistance Offered? The moment you have received your commercial driver's license after graduating from trucking school, you will be impatient to start your new career. Confirm that the schools you are considering have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement rate is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking companies their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a lower job placement rate or not many Safford AZ employers hiring their graduates, it might be a clue to look elsewhere.

Is Financial Aid Offered? Truck driver schools are much like colleges and other Safford 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 assistance department, or at least someone who can help you understand the options and forms that need to be completed.

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