Truck driving can make for a rather exciting career path. With benefits like the ability to go to anywhere and being a part of a close-knit network of professionals, it is easy to see why some would have considered becoming a truck driver at some point in their life. But, as with any other career path, your journey to becoming a professional truck driver is more secured through education. And this is where truck driving schools come into play.
Before anything else, it would be best that we address a few things about learning how to become a truck driver first.
Truck driving schools are just like any other educational institution. It follows a carefully planned course that will take you through the basic and advanced aspects of driving a truck.
Why is this so? The most obvious reason is that truck driving is more demanding than operating any other, smaller vehicle. When the vehicle you operate is more than 5 tons and spans more than 10 meters horizontally, concepts like weight, momentum, and safety become even more crucial matters.
Also, truck driving is more than just hauling things from point A to B on an 8 to 18 wheel vehicle. There are systems you have to be aware of as well as guidelines, standards, and codes that every truck driver must memorize at heart.
And if you do meet the requirements of the course, you will be given a diploma that serves as one of several requirements for your Commercial Driver’s License. Sure, there are cases where people still get their CDL without formal education, but the process is longer and more arduous.
“Can I Go to School while working on my CDL?” You may ask. The answer is yes,
Planning is the key to make you complete all the requirements of the course while still attending to your other priorities. However, you have to be smart in this instance.
Choose a training program with flexible scheduling so you can do your studies in your free time. Also, you can look for a program that offers an accelerated CDL training plan.
However, in either case, there is still a chance that you will have to adjust your work hours to the program and not the other way around. On the flip side, there are advantages found in truck driving jobs that make the effort all worth it.
Just with any degree course out there, you increase your odds of success in passing the CDL training program if you come in prepared. Months before classes start, take the time to go through CDL training materials as there are plenty of them in local libraries and in websites.
At this point, the best thing that you could do is to get familiarized with some trucking terms and concepts. This way, you will absorb and retain every information you receive more efficiently than others.
The quality of the education you get will determine your prospects when looking for truck driving jobs later on. This is why you are better off getting enrolled in a trustworthy truck driving school.
But what does a reputable school for truck drivers look like? There are a few things to be on the lookout for.
An All-Encompassing Program
Choose a school that has a comprehensive training program. When you look at their course outline, make sure that there is a balance between classroom instruction, on-range simulations, and on-the-job training. Training that focuses on all three should make you more capable of getting your CDL quickly.
Be extra careful when the school promises “free training”. You have to realize that running a truck driving school is going to be expensive. Things like fuel costs, equipment, instructor salaries, and utilities will cost a considerable amount.
If that school is genuinely interested in molding professional drivers, they will spare no expense on their program. If you enroll in a program and it does not cost you money, make sure that you understand in what way that agreement will cost you and where funding for your education is being drawn from.
A telltale sign of a school’s quality is the high success rate it has in producing professional truck drivers. Check into a school’s list of alumni for the past 5 years and see how many of its former students are still active drivers with clean track records. An 80% job placement rate is quite exceptional and rates between 40% and 75% can still be considered decent.
Aside from a high success percentage, you should also look at how quickly graduates from that school get jobs. A competitive school should be producing graduates that land jobs within 3 months to a year from finishing the program.
The rule of thumb with truck driving schools is that the quality of education is better if the ratio between instructor and student is ideal. At best, there should be 4 students for every instructor. With fewer students, the instructor can efficiently monitor their progress through the course.
Also, the instructors themselves should possess the right kind of credentials. Not only should an instructor have a valid CDL, but they should have undergone proper training on classroom instruction and student evaluation.
Lastly, the school itself must pass regulations and state standards in its operations. Truck driving schools are regularly being checked by accrediting organizations to see if they follow standards such as using an up to date course outline to having the proper facilities.
Groups like the Professional Truck Driver institute have a list of schools that they have accredited. Check for such in the school of your choice so as not to waste time, money, and effort.
Choosing the right school for truck drivers is something that requires research and careful consideration. After all, becoming a truck driver has its own set of benefits and consequences. As such, it is better that you put in enough time in weighing in all crucial elements before you set yourself for one particular institution.
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