How To Find The Perfect Trucking School For CDL Trainingby Jake Tully - Published: 10/24/2017
Whether you are a driver who is the process of gaining their CDL or someone who has their Class A/B and is still getting their bearings behind the wheel, chances are that you have either enrolled in or looked into a truck driving school in your area.
Many professionals will tell you that the proper training is paramount in finding the ideal trucking job. However, finding this proper training is anything but a simple task for drivers across the country. One must be discerning in the program they choose to ensure that they are receiving the most comprehensive training and that they are leaving a program ready to enter any company – not just a small company or a large company based upon the specific training they received.
With an ever-increasing amount of educational opportunities available to drivers, it may be difficult to navigate through the sheer amount of resources in which a driver can access for their driving training. With that in mind, our team has compiled some of the top concerns regarding trucking schools and how to ultimately find the perfect trucker job to fit your lifestyle.
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Length of Program
One of the first things that a driving student may look for in a truck driving school is the overall length of the program. While a shorter training session might seem to be a more appealing option for many, it is not always the most advantageous route for drivers to take. A shortened CDL training program may lack the correct amount of time in which a driver should be educated behind the wheel and may ultimately cause an undereducated trucker who may be a safety hazard due to lack of knowledge or practice.
Similarly, a driving program that is needlessly elongated can be just as detrimental to the overall education of a trucker. If a student is in a program for too long without getting regular and practical usage of their skills, they may forget certain capabilities within the cab and find that inherent skills such as those associated with the muscle memory of shifting, for example.
It’s important to strike a balance in length of program so that a driver feels confident in their skills without becoming rusty.
Area of Operation/Where Drivers Run
Yet another important facet of where a driver chooses to complete their schooling is both in geographical location and the extension of a program’s geography. In other words, if a program is primarily located in Northern Florida but drivers have the ability to make runs into Georgia from time to time, a driver will see the difference in terrain as well as a potential difference in the roads they may travel upon in a professional career setting.
Another aspect of a school’s locale is when one is enrolling into an express truck driving school are the months in which they take a driving course. Depending on one’s locale, the weather conditions (and therefore the driving conditions) may be drastically different from month to month. Summer roads in Fort Worth and other Eastern Texas towns can be one beast to tackle in July and an entirely different and perilous challenge come December.
Training For Big Companies, Small Companies, or All Companies
Aside from the training that might be offered at a specific trucking company (i.e. those that offer in-house training) some trucking students may find that schools tailor their curriculum towards one of three ways.
Some schools train in a manner in which a large company would be happy to accept a trucker, where the process is less individualistic and more focused on supporting a larger fleet as a whole. Other schools will train in the same format as a small company might, with a greater focus on one’s personal driving style and promoting the virtues of freedom on the road. While both styles of teaching ultimately get a driving student to understand the basic skills required in a truck driving job, both may have a deficit in preparing a student for employment at any size of companies.
To this end, a driver should look at an outline for a class (if possible) and see what topics and skills are going to be covered and whether or not the program offers a more middle of the road approach or something that seems to straddle the lines of “big company” versus “small company” education.
Job Opportunities Post-Schooling
On a similar note to the type of training one might receive and how they might be funneled into a specific company, it is also important to look at the types of post-graduate opportunities one might find through their truck driving school.
Some schools can guarantee job placement, to a degree, so long as a student has the necessary training under their belts and the means to begin a career almost immediately upon graduation. Typically, this type of scenario is found within the context of a large company that feeds graduates into their large fleets.
Other schools may work with nearby companies and have some agreement in which drivers may see easy access to recruiters in which to schedule an interview. Schools may otherwise work with the various staffing companies around the country in order to set up drivers into a network of job openings.
No matter what the post-graduate job policy is, it is important that there is one to begin with, rather than turning students loose without some career guidance.
Cost of Training
The cost of a training program is an important indicator of how effective training might be, and not just simply in terms of how much a driver wants to dole out for schooling.
In some states, the cost of a program will be more due to the overall cost of living within the state. It would not be unlikely for a California-based school to be much more expensive than a Midwest school, falling in the line with the general cost of other goods and services found within the state.
The state in which training takes place may impact price, but what is more important is the price relative to the training itself. Simply because it is an educational program does not make it impervious to an inflated cost by some sources. Drivers should be wary of a truck driving school that has a much higher cost of attendance despite offering the same basic program features as its competitors.
However, the old saying, “you get what you pay for” is also true of a trucking school. An intensive and thorough course should, in theory, cost more than one that seems as though it will get drivers in and out as quickly as possible.
Attitude of Schooling
A truck driving school ought to be realistic about jobs in the industry while still promoting the industry overall. Trainers, speakers, and any driving professional that addresses commercial trucking students should not be overly disparaging about the industry. In order to ensure that the driver shortage does not get out of hand, it’s important to have a conversation with the youth in the country about the potential successes that drivers may have and the rewarding factors of a driving career. It’s also of importance to make sure that a school does not have a reputation for discussing the evils of driving without discussing its merits, as a school may be turning out jaded truckers.
Equally as important is the need to show a practical viewpoint of the trucking industry rather than promoting an unrealistic and unhelpful viewpoint of a glamorized job. Find trucking professionals who teach both sides of the equation and who address the unforgiving nature of the job in a way that also shows the importance of value of trucking jobs.
Finding A School Right For You
When it comes down to it, the perfect driving school for a trucker is the one that works best for them. Drivers should find a school that covers driving both in the classroom and behind the wheel, though one that emphasizes the latter more may be preferable.
Talk to instructors and program organizers to get a feel for what kind of classroom experience is offered. See what the curriculum is like, how many students are generally in a class, and what type of options are available to students after they graduate. Don’t settle on a program due to price or a shortened time in the classroom, give yourself the advantage of a solid and useful training experience.