7 Things to Look For… and 3 Things to Avoid
The sad reality is that for every legitimate, high-quality CDL truck driving school out there, there are many more fly-by-night scam operators. So we thought we would share some of our 40+ years of experience to give you a heads up on how to choose the truck driving school that is right for you. You need this information whether or not you chose to train at Truck Driver Institute.
7 Things to Look For in Deciding Which Truck Driving School is Right For You
1. HOW LONG HAVE THEY BEEN IN BUSINESS?
How long a truck driving school has been in business speaks volumes about their character. CDL schools pop up all the time in the form of small mom-and-pop operations with two trucks and a trailer for an office. These operations are interested in only one thing, taking your money. They have no track record with the State Licensing Agency. They have no history of graduation rates for you to examine. They have no relationships with the major trucking companies. And most importantly, they can’t offer placement assistance should you lose your first job, because:
- they can’t afford it,
- they don’t have the contacts in the industry and
- they simply won’t still be in existence when you need them.
Truck Driver Institute has been in continuous operation since 1973. That provides TDI with a 40-year long track record of graduation and employment numbers for you to examine, a wealth of industry contacts and resources, and the reassurance that TDI will still be around years later if you should need placement assistance in the future.
2. WHAT IS THEIR TRACK RECORD?
Does the school give you quick and easy access to its graduation and employment numbers and percentages? If it doesn’t, the only reason is either because they are a fly-by-night operation or their numbers aren’t as good as they should be. At TDI, we will share our graduation rates with you. We are proud of our track record and you shouldn’t even consider a school that isn’t.
3. DOES THE TRUCK DRIVING SCHOOL PROVIDE JOB PLACEMENT ASSISTANCE?
Do they have full-time employees whose only job is to find you a job? Many schools offer only training and then throw you to the wolves to find your own job. TDI maintains a full-time Student Services Department dedicated to finding the right job for you.
4. DO THEY HAVE A WEBSITE?
Is the website actually useful to you? Are they transparent? Do they provide you with all the information you need to evaluate them and to make an informed decision? Does their website answer YOUR questions? If not, they are most likely either a small-time operation or a fly-by-night scam. If they do have a website, is it just nice and flashy? Does it actually provide you with their contact information, who they train for, and placement assistance?
5. WHO DO THEY TRAIN FOR?
Does the school train for all major carriers or are they a captive school? You should avoid contract training at all costs, but some truck driving schools don’t advertise themselves as contract trainers. These schools simply steer the vast majority of their students to one carrier who is their lifeblood. Beware of a school that doesn’t offer you job placement options and opportunities with a large number of carriers, it may very well be a captive school.
6. ARE THEY A 3RD PARTY TESTER?
Some states allow a truck driving school to employ their own CDL testers on-site. Other states restrict CDL testing to only state facilities. If 3rd party testing is allowed in your state, does the school offer 3rd party testing on-site? Only the very best truck driving school is allowed by state governments to maintain 3rd party testing due to the large amount of documentation and regulation necessary. If a school isn’t a licensed 3rd party tester, you may find delays waiting in line with the graduates of all the other schools to take the CDL exam at a state facility, and you will end up waiting to start your new job.
7. WHAT IS THE RATIO OF STUDENTS TO INSTRUCTORS?
The number should never be more than four students to every instructor in the truck. Anything higher than a 4-to-1 ratio means you won’t get the hands-on driving time and one-on-one instruction you need to become a skilled and competent driver. If a school won’t discuss its student to teacher ratios, run away as fast as you can!
3 Things to Avoid at All Costs
1. CONTRACT TRAINING
What if you find a truck driving school that offers discounted tuition? … but learn it comes with a catch. You have to sign a contract to drive for a particular carrier for a specified period of time after graduation. This is called contract training. Truck Driver Institute does not engage in contract training. Our students are free to accept employment from any of over 20 carriers who recruit our graduates. While contract training may save you a little money up front, it can cost you tremendous money over the long term and eliminates your freedom to choose an employer. Don’t make this mistake; ask them about your employment options up front.
2. MOM-AND-POP OPERATIONS
Small CDL training schools pop up all the time when an instructor leaves a respectable, established school and starts his own truck driving school with two trucks and a trailer for an office. They usually offer deeply discounted tuition, and (as the old saying goes), you get exactly what you pay for. Equipment is sub-par, the instruction is minimal and most importantly there is no job placement. Truck Driver Institute has offered professional truck driver training since 1973.
3. SCHOOLS WITHOUT MULTIPLE CARRIER RELATIONSHIPS
Your CDL school should offer you job placement options with many different carriers. This will ensure you have the best opportunity to obtain the job that is right for you. If a school offers no placement services at all, run the other way. A school should openly and proudly discuss its relationships with the trucking companies that hire its graduates. Each trucking company has advantages and disadvantages which may be important to you. You should be very wary of any school that attempts to steer you to a single trucking company. That school is not looking out for the best interest of its students.