So, you’ve decided to become a commercial truck driver, and now it is time to choose a truck driving school. It may be tempting to choose an inexpensive or quick trucking school to get you out on the road as fast and easily as possible, but you have to be careful. Not all trucking schools are created equal, and if you choose the wrong one, it could have real implications on your career; it could even cost you a future job.
In fact, some trucking businesses have a list of schools they will not hire students from. So, when you are choosing your school, don’t just choose the one that seems easy or close to home. Be sure to do your research and know what to look for. In this article, we will list all of the questions you should ask about your potential truck driving school to make your search a little easier.
Is it Accredited?
Is your trucking school accredited and approved by the U.S. Department of Education? If the school is accredited, you will know that the school is keeping up with its curriculum and will be recognized across the country as a valid school to earn your Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) from.
Will I Earn a Certification?
Earning your CDL is the primary reason one goes to trucking school. Without this certification, you will not be eligible for a truck driving job in the U.S., which means you’ve wasted your time and money at school. Be sure your school offers certifications at the end of your program.
Is this School Cost Effective?
There is a lot that goes into becoming a truck driver, and lot of it can be very expensive. To become a commercial truck driver, you need to earn a permit, go through a drug screening process, acquire insurance, and many other things. It is important that your school’s tuition reflects the services it provides. If your school covers everything you need in one flat fee, you can expect it to cost more than a school that doesn’t cover permits and drug screening. Be sure you check into exactly what your school covers, and look out for hidden fees.
Does the School Offer Enough Driving Time?
In driving school, you need at least 44 hours of actual driving time to gain your CDL. This does not include observation time, however. Some schools may want to skimp on your driving time to make room for more students, which could hurt you in the long run. So, when you are choosing your school, you must make sure they offer you enough time behind the wheel to earn your license.
Is the Equipment Up to Date and Well Kept?
We have all been to schools with antiquated tools and equipment. When attending a trucking school, it is imperative that the equipment be up to date and regularly maintained. It is also very important that you learn how to drive using the same kind of equipment you will be using on the job. Find a school that provides extensive, real-world experience behind the wheel as opposed to virtual practice in front of a computer screen.
Is the School Itself Well Kept?
Just like the trucks, the school you choose to attend should be clean, updated and accessible. You will want to choose a school that has the adequate classroom tools, from audio-visual capabilities to fast wireless internet, a library, and a practice driving range with experienced instructors to help teach you. Be sure you set yourself up for success by choosing a school with everything you need.
Does the School Offer Financing Options?
Trucking school is not cheap. Many students will need to choose a financial aid option to get through the program. Only reputable schools that are recognized by the U.S. Department of Education will be able to offer financial assistance, and the benefits vary for each school. Most schools have a variety of loans, grants, scholarships, and military benefits that you should see if you qualify for.
How Experienced are the Instructors?
When learning any new subject, you want to learn it from someone who is experienced in the field themselves, and trucking is no exception. If your teachers have spent little time behind the wheel of the big rig, they may not be prepared to answer your questions or give good instruction. As a rule of thumb, be sure your teachers have at least three years of truck driving experience before you enroll in their classes.
Does the School Offer Placement Assistance?
The whole point of going to trucking school is to get your CDL and then get a great trucking job. And while no school can ensure you a job after graduation, any extra help in the job hunt is a great start. Check and see if your school offers placement assistance to its recent grads. Additionally, it is a great idea to see what their placement rate is. For example, do 98% of graduates earn a trucking job within three months of graduation? That would be a great sign that the trucking school is producing excellent drivers.
How Long is the Program?
Trucking is not something you can learn overnight. If a school is offering a week-long crash course in trucking, the school is not worth your time. Be sure the program you choose is at least three weeks long to give you enough time to learn everything you need to know as well as allow for enough practice time behind the wheel.
What is the Student to Truck Ratio?
It doesn’t matter how great the equipment is if you are having to share a truck with eight other students. This will equate to little time behind the wheel and a lot of time waiting around while other students practice. The best schools will limit their class size to ensure each student has their own truck to practice in.
There is a lot to consider when choosing the right trucking school for you. However, it is important to take the time to choose a school that meets all of your needs and gets you started on your path to becoming a commercial truck driver.
After you obtain your CDL, let us know if you need any help financing your commercial vehicle. It doesn’t matter if you’re a first time buyer or have bad credit; Mission Financial has got you covered.