by Pride Transport | Oct 17, 2019
Driving a truck is not an easy job. Doing it well means being well trained and skilled. Just getting your CDL license so that you can drive a truck you’ll need a lot of practical knowledge. To get your CDL and become a professional driver, you’ll need training and that comes from a driving school or a paid driving program. All driving schools are not the same. Just because one has a good reputation doesn’t mean it’s going to be a good fit for you. Take your time, really do your research and find the right school for you. To help, here are ten things to consider when you’re looking at a driving school.
You’ll want to choose a school with a very comprehensive curriculum. A school that has a good and even amounts of classroom, range and on-the-road training. This combination is going to help you to be better prepared when you’re actually behind the wheel and on the highway. Also, a good, comprehensive program is going to make it easier for you to pass your CDL skills test.
CDL Driving School Reputation
What kind of reputation does the school have? How long have they been in operation? These are questions you’ll want to ask. Read their online reviews and see what drivers have said about the training they received there. Find out how many graduates of their program have actually passed their CDL test. If it’s not mentioned on their website, ask someone in admissions. If they refuse to tell you or the number is very low, rethink that school as an option. If you can, contact alumni directly and have them talk to you about their experience.
Is This The CDL Training For You
Be sure the schools you’re looking at offer the CDL training that matches what you want to do. If you’re seeking to operate tractor-trailers over the open road, then you’re looking to get a Class A CDL. But, say you’re looking to drive a bus or a dump truck or even a garbage truck then you’re looking to get Class B CDL training. Make sure, once you’ve decided what you want to do, that the school offers the type of training you need.
Cost to Get your CDL
Remember, just because one driving school is more expensive than the others doesn’t mean it’s better or the right fit for you. Still, you’ll want to be a little wary of “cheap” driving schools, the fly by night places. The truth is equipment, fuel, supplies, instructors and other things that are needed for CDL training schools to run all come with a cost. So, if it’s too cheap, you have to wonder who is paying for the stuff or if they actually have the right equipment and supplies to give you the best education possible.
Read our breakdown on the "Cost of Getting a CDL in 2022".
If the school is too expensive look for schools that offer scholarships or loan options. You can also apply for grants and some carriers will offer tuition reimbursement. If you really want to be a good driver, there are ways to make that happen, you’ve just got to do the research, ask the right questions and take your time and find that right school.
Most of all, be sure you know what you’re paying for and that you’re getting what you’re paying for before you go into a school.
You may be working while you’re going to driving school, if that’s the case, you’ll want a school that offers flexibility in their class schedule. Maybe you can only go on weekends or at night, make sure that the schedule works for you and you’re not trying to jam classes in around your life. If the class schedule is frustrating you’re not going to be able to concentrate fully and you risk getting angry and dropping out. Keep in mind that the more frequently you have classes, the quicker you’ll be able to complete your coursework, get your CDL and get out on the road, which is the ultimate goal.
With that said, be sure you’re not rushing to just get it done. Be sure you’re working at a comfortable pace and that you’re able to fully absorb and understand all the information that’s being given to you. You don't want to find yourself in a situation where you’re on the road and you’re stuck because you don’t know something you should have learned in school but you were not focused and didn’t learn it. Don't rush your training.
Finding the Right CDL Instructor
The level of skill of the instructors is going to be very important in your choice of driving school. Make sure the school has licensed drivers with actual road experience. Good teachers will offer you all the practical information possible and, they will give you tips and insight about life on the road and how to cope with some of the most common problems. Talk to instructors, see if you feel comfortable with them. Again, do your research. Check them out online, ask past graduates what they thought of the instructors. Be sure you feel safe and that the teachers can be trusted and you can learn from them.
If you’re looking at driving schools, it makes sense to put some time aside to visit the schools, especially if they are local. Contact the schools and set up a visit, have someone take you around, show you the facilities and explain the training to you. Ask all your questions and find out if the school has a good feeling for you and if you think it will be a good fit. If the school isn’t local, get all the information you can online and then, maybe you’ll still want to visit. Most often you’ll have to cover that expense, but it may be worth it if the school turns out to be the right place for you.
Does Your CDL School Offer Job Placement?
CDL training schools will often offer help when it comes to your job search. Graduates can get placement help, personal job interview coaching or, some schools partner with transportation companies and help with job placement. Check with the schools you’re interested in and ask them about job placement or what kind of assistance they offer graduates.
Also, find out online or from the schools themselves what their job placement success rate is. Ask which companies their graduates usually place with and then look at those companies. Maybe you don’t want to drive for them. If possible, talk to alumni and find out what their job placement experience was like.
This is not time in a simulator or time observing. This isn’t pre-trip either. When you’re looking at drive time you’re looking at the nitty-gritty, time behind the wheel, you’re in control of the rig, it’s in your hands, you’re making the decisions, that’s drive time.
Drive time is the most important aspect of your training and you want to make sure the schools you’re looking at offer a substantial amount of drive time in their training schedule. Schools will vary on the amount of drive time they offer their students but, to be safe, you shouldn't accept anything less than 32 hours. More is certainly better. Most pro drivers will tell you that a student that gets more instructed drive time will be a better driver on the road. Make sure the school you choose offers a good amount of drive time.
In the end, it’s all about doing a good amount of research and knowing exactly what you want going in. Don't allow a school to make your choices for you. A bad school experience can color your entire truck driving career and make or break you as a driver.
Ask your questions, do your research and keep these ten tips in mind, find the truck driving school that will fully prepare you for your CDL test and get you ready for life on the road.