After you make the decision to start truck driving, choosing the right truck driving school is the next big step towards getting behind the wheel. Unfortunately, not all CDL training schools were created equally, and there are some things you should take into account before choosing the best fit. You want to be sure you’re getting the best quality training for your money, so here are some of the most important factors you should be taking into consideration:
Driver training school can be expensive – your tuition has to cover the cost of equipment, fuel, materials, and your instructor’s time. While price is an important factor in deciding which training school to attend, it shouldn’t be the deciding factor. Be very wary of programs that advertise “free training”, as it’s most likely as scam. Not all schools offer the same level of education, so making your decision based on price alone can lead to a snap decision and possibly a poor training program. Get to know the value of the education each program provides, and if your favorite school is out of your budget, call them and ask about financing, grants, and how others pay for the class.
There are three types of CDL training schools: licensed courses, certified courses, and accredited training courses.
- Licensed courses: has met the minimum state curriculum, facility, and training requirements
- Certified courses: fully licensed by the state and inspected by a third-party company to ensure the school meets a certain standard; students only graduate when they pass the DOT standards for the trucking industry
- Accredited training courses: meets certain regulations and policies set by the US Department of Education
A good starting point when deciding what type of school to attend is taking a look at the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI) website. The PTDI certifies truck driver training programs to ensure the courses meet a higher standard, operate ethically and professionally, and perform better overall than the competition. They encourage training programs to show that they not only meet government regulations, but exceed them.
You would be surprised by the number of aspiring drivers that refuse to drive an extra half hour to their training school. While convenience is obviously, y’know, convenient, it doesn’t always equal a good quality training program. Be sure that you’re exhausting all possible options when choosing your training school, as you could be missing out on exceptional courses just a little farther down the road. Be cautious, though, and read up on your state’s laws on CDL transference. For example, in Illinois, you must be tested in Illinois to receive an Illinois CDL. So, if you’re considering a school in another state, be sure you can transfer your CDL back to your home state.
Remember, your ultimate goal is to start a successful truck driving career, so you should choose a training school that has a great track record for placing drivers with top companies. Consider whether or not the program offers personal coaching, or if they partner with local transport companies. Don’t be afraid to ask schools what their success rate is with recent graduates finding work.
It’s a well-known fact that we learn more from experience than from sitting in a classroom, so you should ensure that any programs you’re looking into are comprehensive and include a healthy mix of classroom instruction, range, and on-the-road training. There are certain things you can’t learn until you do it, so make sure you get to spend some time in the cab and behind the wheel.
Your driver training program is the first step to starting your driving career, so you want to ensure that you start off on the right foot. It’s not a choice to be made lightly, so taking all necessary factors into consideration is very important. The right training program could mean better training and better job placement, giving you a healthy advantage over the your competition.