After making the choice to become a truck driver, your next big decision is where to go to truck driving school. After all, this one decision will directly affect your success within the field for years to come so it should be one you consider thoroughly. The following are seven tips to keep in mind when choosing a truck driving school:
1.) Do Your Research
Before you apply to a truck driving school, do your research. Ask a lot of questions. If you know of anyone who is a professional truck driver who has had success in the career field, ask them their opinion. What kind of schools do they feel are best for driver training? In addition, look through the training instructions and the curriculum each school you are considering offers. While each state has its own CDL rules, get a head start on what is coming as part of your schooling and training by reading the Arizona Commercial Drivers License CDL Manual. This will give you an idea of what is to come.
2.) Decide Between Private Truck Driving Schools and Paid Training Programs
There are two main types of truck driving schools, those being private truck driving schools or paid training programs. Paid training programs like Knight Transportation pay you while you gain your Class A Commercial Drivers License and during your extended training. Private truck driving schools mean you pay up-front to learn the skill and they don’t necessarily place their students in built-in jobs. This can be good or bad for you as a student, depending on your long-term goals. Paid training programs are usually cheaper because they come with on-the-job placement. In essence, you agree to learn with them, train with them, and then drive for them, at least for some time before moving to another company or on with your career. The private school option allows you to have the freedom to work wherever you want for whatever company you want, but it is usually the more costly option, and there is no guarantee of a job upon graduation.
3.) Ask if There is a Comprehensive Training Program
One important characteristic of any good driving school is a generous classroom with regard to teacher/instructor numbers. You also need on-the-road training that will help you achieve success in your career as a driver. This is of course in addition to helping you pass and obtain your CDL. It’s also a good idea to have trainer-assisted driving lessons, meaning trainers or instructors ride with you for so long during a specific training period. This gives you both classroom knowledge and on-the-job instruction that is comprehensive in nature.
4.) Inquire About Job Placement History
Your ultimate goal when going to driving school is of course to become a truck driver. Your training, time spent in a classroom and the money paid towards tuition wasn’t just for fun. Your goal is to find a job, and quickly, once you complete school. Therefore, make sure anywhere you go has a high record of placing drivers on the road either with their own company through on-the-job training or after graduation.
5.) Find a School With Highly Skilled, Experienced Instructors
A school is really only as good as its instructors. The best instructors will have years if not decades of on-the-road experience to offer you as a student. Being able to teach you from their actual experience, not a book is extremely valuable.
Not only will an experienced former driver as an instructor get you ready for what you will face in the cab of a truck and help you pass your CDL, but they will also help you as you learn how to interact with customers and anyone you might come across at rest areas or interact with during shipment pickups, which are other elements of the job that can be overlooked during training but are still important.
6.) Consider Tuition
The cost of driving school is a factor you need to consider, whether you want to or not. Admittedly, the money aspect is likely one you would rather not think about, but it’s a necessary part of schooling. Keep in mind, you are paying for your future and investing in your career. Therefore, don’t automatically go with the school offering the cheapest tuition for that purpose alone.
The reverse is true because the cost of a particular driving school is leaps and bounds higher than others doesn’t necessarily mean they are better. To determine the true worth of any educational option, and the cost of tuition, find out about job placement. Inquire about the long-term success most drivers enjoy after they graduate from that school.
Be sure to ask about scholarships or loans that will help you meet the financial obligations necessary to get the training you need. Avoid free programs. If you see “free driving school” beware. A good driving program must employ instructors and have the equipment, which means there is a cost involved.
7.) Prepare Yourself
If truck driving schools were easy and required no commitment or dedication, everyone would do it! Therefore, it’s a good idea to prepare yourself for the task and even warn your friends and family of the commitment level you will be forced to put towards having success in this field.
You might reach a point where classwork or driver training feels overwhelming during the process. This is normal. Take heart, you can do it. All it takes is a commitment towards success and a willingness to keep up the hard work necessary to see your dreams realized. Don’t give up. You will one day soon find yourself seated behind a big rig, owning the roadway, and enjoying a rewarding career.
Additional Tips For Choosing a Truck Driving School
• Be willing to train and learn. Even though you might have been driving a regular vehicle for years, don’t be surprised if learning to properly navigate a big rig is like learning to drive all over again.
• Speak up in class. Ask questions. There is no stupid question except that one you don’t ask. Other students likely are wondering the same thing.
• Start today. Don’t put driving school off even one more day because that puts your career as a driver even further away.
Contact Knight Transportation for more information.