Truck Driver Training Schools
The quality of your CDL training can impact your trucking career opportunities once you have your license. Before you commit to a driving school, take your time checking out the program. The best way to find out about a particular school’s reputation is to pick up the phone. Call the recruiting department of a carrier you would like to work for and ask them which driving schools’ graduates they prefer to hire. Call your state’s department of motor vehicles and ask them for a list of approved driver training schools. Ask schools for a list of graduates you can call to use as references.
The Professional Truck Driver Institute, or PTDI, is not a school, but it does certify truck driving schools. In order for a program to meet PTDI certification, the program has to go through a thorough accreditation process. PTDI maintains a list of its certified schools on the company’s website, but it’s always a good idea to call the organization and verify that your school is still in good standing. The following list of criteria for quality truck driving courses was adapted from PTDI’s standards. It may help you find a reliable truck driving school.
What to look for in a truck driver training school:
- Definition. The course should be clearly defined. You should be able to understand exactly how much the course is going to cost, how long it’s going to take, what equipment you will use, whether financial aid or tuition reimbursement is available, how much hands-on time you will have, and which endorsements the program is designed to provide.
- Goals. The course should have clearly stated goals that match your goals. For example: The goal of Bates’ Technical College’s driver course is to help students prepare for entry-level employment as commercial truck drivers with the goal of a Class A Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) with all endorsements.
- Lesson plans. The teachers should use lesson plans to keep the classes focused and organized.
- Eligibility. You should be able to immediately figure out if you are eligible for the program. The program information should explain if you need to meet specific DOT, driving record, age, health, and federal requirements.
- Instructor experience. The instructors should have a combination of real-life and educational experience that qualifies them for this job. Look for programs with teachers who have at least three years of driving experience, who currently hold a CDL, and who have made a good living as drivers.
- Teaching skills. Just because a person’s a good driver doesn’t make him a good teacher. Ask how the trainers develop their instructional skills.
- Vehicles. Check out the fleet you will be training on. Make sure the trucks are in good condition, well-maintained, and similar size and type to the trucks carriers use. Make sure the school has tankers and trucks with air brakes.
- Curriculum. Make sure the school has a clearly-defined curriculum. There should be a set of course objectives and a schedule showing when you will cover which topics. Course materials should also be up to date and current with changing federal regulations.
- Instructional time. Your course should provide at least 104 hours of classroom time and 44 hours of actual behind-the wheel time. During the behind-the-wheel segment, the school should provide some practice pulling a loaded trailer. You should be able to practice both on the range and on the road.
- Student/Instructor ratio. For the classroom segment of your training, look for schools that have no more than 30 students per instructor. Once the class goes out on the driving range, be sure there will be one instructor in each truck, and a small number of trainees in each truck.
- Job placement. Make sure your selected school will help you find a job once you graduate.
Learn More: Truck Driver School Financial Aid