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Choosing the Right Truck Driver School for You
Not All Commercial Truck Schools Are the Same
Truck driving is an attractive career choice for many people seeking a flexible lifestyle with a constant change of scenery. After deciding to pursue a career in the trucking industry, choosing a truck driving school is among the most important things to consider.
If you’ve been driving a car for years, you might assume that the transition to driving an 18-wheeler truck isn’t that hard—it is. Driving a big rig requires an entirely new skill set.
It’s imperative that potential truck drivers receive adequate training from a qualified truck driving school. The most common options include paid commercial driving license (CDL) training programs and private driving schools. Potential students should know that not all trucker schools offer the same level of training.
Paid CDL Training Programs or Private Truck Driving Schools?
Before you can get behind the wheel of an 18-wheeler, a commercial driving license is required. The two common avenues for pursuing a CDL include employer-sponsored training programs and private truck driving schools.
In the case of paid CDL training programs, a large commercial trucking company will employ prospective truck drivers and pay for their certification. Paid CDL training programs are conducted by a trucking company. These programs are an attractive option for a couple of reasons. First, they’re paid by the company. That means that there is no payment required to complete the course on your end, and you’ll receive a small wage for training hours.
Additionally, many paid CDL training programs come with the benefit of a job once training has been completed. However, because the company has paid for your training, these programs typically come with contractual obligations that may feel limiting to prospective truckers.
Paid CDL training programs are not the only option. Private CDL schools are expensive upfront when compared to company-sponsored programs, but offer a wider network of options, additional information, and no obligations upon completion of the program.
Because private CDL schools do not limit their participants to work within the company, they are usually the preferred option for prospective truckers able to afford the high upfront costs. No matter what, it is imperative to shop around for truck driving schools and pick one that has a longstanding stellar reputation.
Necessary Prerequisites to Participate in CDL Training Program
Before you can apply to a CDL training program, you'll need to meet the standards for employment in the trucking industry:
- Age – Typically, commercial drivers must be at least 21 years of age.
- DOT drug test – Prospective truck drivers must pass a Department of Transportation (DOT) drug test to be admitted to a CDL training program.
- Background Check – A background check with a clean criminal history is also required. However, some companies may make allowances depending on the nature of the crimes/convictions.
- S. Citizenship – Prospective truck drivers must be American citizens to qualify for a CDL.
- Clean Driving History – Many CDL training programs will ask for past employer references, require a clean driving record, and will not accept anyone with a DWI/DUI with five years of application.
Choosing the Best Truck Driving Training Program for You – What Does the Program Offer?
Choosing the right truck driving training program sets the tone for the rest of your career. Before deciding if a CDL training program is right for you, it’s important to consider the following and gather as much information as possible:
- Manual and automatic transmissions – Does the training program include familiarity with both manual and automatic transmissions? Some programs have done away with teaching manual transmission as automatic has become more and more popular. If you're only familiar with one or the other, your career options are more limited. As such, it's crucial to choose a program that offers training on both manual and automatic transmissions.
- Class size and instructor ratio – To get the most out of your program, it's vital to build a strong relationship with your instructor. If the class size is too large, or there aren't enough instructors, you will be limited in your ability to ask questions and truly get the most of your program. It's best to look for a truck driving school that offers a maximum ratio of one instructor for every four students.
- Length of program – Many training programs will boast that their programs are short to entice prospective truck drivers into beginning their truck driving careers as quickly as possible. It’s impossible to learn everything there is to know about truck driving in as little as two weeks. Rushed programs will limit your ability to commit your knowledge to memory. Some employers may also look down on your limited formal CDL training. When choosing a program, be sure to ask about the format of the class and how many hours will be spent behind the wheel.
- Qualifications of the trainer – A training program will only be as effective as the trainer. Choose a training program that is instructed by a driver with years of on-the-job experience.
- Financial assistance – CDL training school is an investment of time and money, no matter what program you choose. Investigate financial aid and which programs accept/offer aid to students before making your choice.
- Licensing test – At the end of your program, you will be required to take a licensing test to receive your CDL. Be sure to find out the cost of the exam and whether the test can be repeated in the event of failure.
There are a variety of factors to consider when choosing the right school for you. Thankfully, there are options available to help you no matter what your situation may be. Now knowing these factors, take some time to figure out what is important to you in a truck driver program so you apply to the correct schools. With this knowledge, you are on your way to your new career path.
What Happens if You're Hurt in a Commercial Truck Wreck?
Truck accidents can occur due to many reasons such as mechanical errors, careless drivers, negligent actions, or bad weather. If you're involved in a wreck or other trucking accident you'll need to hire a personal injury attorney that has experience handling and winning truck related lawsuits. Truck accident attorney Joe Stephens is ready to put his 30+ years of experience and legal expertise to work advocating for Texas truck drivers' rights in all accident situations.
Types of Trucking Accidents We Handle in Houston and Across Texas:
Truck Driver DWI
Wide Turn Accidents
Blind Spot Accidents
Read End Accidents
Lost Load Accidents
Hire an Attorney With Experience Winning Truck Accidents
Cases involving big truck collisions can be very complex and present difficulty proving negligence of the truck driver, the trucking company, or both. Joe's experience with these cases allows him to get right to the heart of the matter, his clients rights and owed compensation. At Stephens Law Accident Firm, we make ourselves available to our clients 24/7—call our hotline at 281-682-1701 or request a free consultation.