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How to Choose a Truck Driving School

A good way to get started on a career in driving is by enrolling in a truck driver training program. Driver training schools can be found in most parts of the country, often in community colleges, vocational- technical schools, and through private, proprietary schools. Many trucking companies also operate their own training facilities. Visit the Commercial Vehicle Training Association, the National Association of Publicly Funded Truck Driving Schools or the Professional Truck Driver Institute websites and learn more about driver training schools. Those organizations represent some of the most reputable schools.

Choosing a good driver training school takes careful research and a lot of comparison shopping. To find the program that is right for you, visit as many schools either in person or on-line as you can and consider the following guidelines:

The school should have adequate facilities for in-class instruction, comparable to the average public school classroom. Classroom instruction should include lectures and training videos, and should adequately prepare you to pass the Commercial Drivers License (CDL) exam. Consider the teacher-student ratio and what courses are offered. Be sure their class curriculum is outlined in detail. Contact your state division of motor vehicles for a copy of the CDL study manual.

The school should provide a variety of well-maintained trucks, tractors and semi-trailers to train you for local, long-haul and city pick-up-and-delivery driving. The school should have an off-street area for initial, behind-the-wheel instruction in vehicle handling and maneuvering.

Instructors should have a solid background in truck driver training, combining education and actual driving experience.

Be wary of schools that claim to be endorsed by the federal government, trucking associations, specific truck fleets, or that claim to train you in less than two weeks. Contact organizations to which such endorsement is noted and verify the claims.

Check with the local board of education or business licensing agency to see which certificates or licenses the school is required to have. Then, check to see that the licenses are displayed and are valid. (Telephone numbers for these agencies usually can be found in the state and local government section of the telephone directory or on the web.)

One of the best ways to verify the reputation of a training school is to ask local trucking companies if they hire graduates from that school. Talk with recent graduates about the content and quality of training received, and ask if they have been successful in finding a truck driving job. Ask the training school how many student graduates receive their CDL.

Once you have decided on the program that is right for you, pay close attention to the following details before signing the contract:

Read and understand the contract, and know exactly what your obligations are. Verify the tuition and other costs and terms governing refund or forfeiture of the down payment, should you fail to complete the program. If necessary, make arrangements (and be sure you clearly understand the terms) for financing the remainder of the tuition.

If the school is far from your home, check into the availability of room and board at the school. Be sure to investigate adequacy and costs of those facilities. If you have dependents, be sure you have made arrangements to support them while you complete training.

Research the availability of truck driving jobs where you live and realize that you may need to relocate in order to find a driving job.