Picking a CDL Truck Driving School is a big decision. It is normal to feel overwhelmed by the amount of information on your journey to become a professional Class A Truck Driver. Do not be discouraged. There is an abundance of resources available to help point you in the right direction.
Questions to ask when deciding on a CDL truck driving school:
1. Will you earn your Commercial Driver’s License at the end of the program?
If you’re only achieving Commercial Driver’s Permit, this is will not qualify you for most carriers. You need the Commercial Driver’s License.
2. What are the fees associated with the program?
There can be hidden fees – such as drug screening, insurance, etc. If the school offers a flat fee, ask for a breakdown in the expenses associated with the school to be sure there are no surprise expenses.
3. Is the program tied to an employment contract?
There are many programs that lock you in for a period (such as 6 months to 1 year or more) to subsidize the cost of the school, training, etc. Thoroughly vet what employment opportunities are available once you’ve achieved your CDL and verify those opportunities match your expectations (e.g., pay expectations and home time).
4. Is it accredited/certified?
If not, pass. (Learn more about the difference in Part I: What to look for in a CDL School of this series.)
5. How many hours are you spending behind the wheel?
While the federal government will no longer mandate the number of hours behind the wheel training after February 2022, many states do require minimum hours spent and the school will need to document it. Most companies are looking for 44+ hours of behind-the-wheel training (check if the company you want to work for offers a Finishing Program to get you fully comfortable and trained prior to hitting the road as a solo driver.
6. What is the behind-the-wheel training format?
Are you co-piloting or are you team driving? There are training schools that will place the trainee with an experienced driver in a team-driving configuration that places the “trainer” in the sleeper berth while the trainee is behind the wheel. This is not sufficient coaching/mentoring to ensure the trainee is gaining the skills and coaching they need to be successful.
7. How long is the program?
Target schools offering 2+ weeks of training. Anything shorter than that is setting you up to fail.
8. What is the school’s placement rate?
If the school has a job placement of over 95% of their graduates are employed with a reputable carrier, it’s a good sign the school is solidly training excellent professional Class A drivers.
This completes this installment of the Commercial Driver’s License Training Tips series. In Part III, we’ll dive into what to look for in a post-graduate CDL Training or Finishing program.
Have a question? Give our recruiting team a call at 855-784-5627 and we’d be happy to assist you.