Are you thinking about attending one of the truck driving training programs but want to know more before you enroll? Luckily you’ve stumbled upon the right place as this website will help you get a better basic understanding of what you should expect. This way you can make a better decision on where you want to get your training and which of the truck driving schools is the best one that fits your particular need.
Becoming a truck driver is not only an exciting career choice but also one that is very much in demand right now. As the US economy continues to improve, the need for qualified drivers to help transport merchandise from state to state is of upmost importance. The way you can get started is by completing any of the truck driving training programs found all over the country.
Our newest guide on truck driving schools found right here will give you an overview of what to look for, why you should go, the cost of training and much more. Each topic is laid out as a question such as the ones we answer almost every day. You can read the whole page or just skim to the parts that you want more information about.
If you have any questions or we didn’t cover an area that you need to know about, please contact us via email. We will gladly respond to you as quickly as we can. So are you ready to learn more about truck driving schools? Let’s read on!
Why Should I Go Through Truck Driving Training?
In our opinion, it is pretty darned important to go through truck driving training. Not only will you get a better grasp on the basics to pass the Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) exam, but you will get training on safety and the overall responsibility that a truck driver has to deal with on a daily basis. You will be getting an education on the profession and how to properly drive a big rig in different environments and situations.
By going through truck driving training, you will be gaining the skills and knowledge that can help you get your new career going on the right track. You will become a trained professional that can be seen as an asset on the road and not a liability. But before you even try to decide which of the truck driving schools you should consider picking, you should know how to get there.
Inside Look at Truck Driving Schools
For the most part, truck driving training is all about business. You have a short time to get the necessary training anywhere from 2 to 6 weeks. During this time you will need to not only pass the CDL exam but also to get you ready for a happy and rewarding career.
Even though it is all business, it can be fun too. Let’s face it, we got interested in truck driving so that we could drive the big rigs down the road like a boss. You will get that opportunity while attending one of the truck driving training programs.
Believe it or not, you will most likely gain a certain amount of confidence and raise your self-esteem. This comes naturally as you take on a challenge that seems insurmountable head on and beat it. Learning to back up a loaded tractor trailer in to a tight spot can be incredibly exciting as you realize that you can do almost anything after that.
What Are the Requirements to Enroll in Truck Driver Training?
Like most training programs, you will need to meet certain requirements for enrollment. Most truck driving training programs use the requirements that must be met to be able to earn a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL). You may find that actual enrollment requirements may vary slightly between the different truck driving training programs or states. Some of the common requirements include:
- Must have a high school diploma or have earned their GED
- Must be at least 21 years old (some schools allow 18 year olds)
- Be able to communicate (speak, read and write) proficiently in English
- Possess a valid driver’s license with at least one year of driving experience
- Be able to pass a drug screening including possible random drug tests during the training
- Must be able to pass a criminal background check
- Don’t have any DUI, DWI or BAC convictions on your record
- Be in physical shape to pass the mandated Department of Transportation’s exam
- Should have a clean driving record without recent (3 years) of moving violations, particularly if under the age of 23
- Must have proof that you are a U.S. citizen (birth certificate, social security card) or have a passport for non-citizens
What Will I Learn in Truck Driving Training Programs?
Believe it or not, truck driving schools can be extremely intense and stressful. This is mainly due to the short training period in which you will learn a virtual ton of information. A typical training program looks a lot like this:
- Held in a classroom
- Meet instructors
- Go over safety procedures
- Basic training on mechanical operations and vehicle maintenance
- Learn about why and how to do the log requirements
- Go over federal motor carrier regulations
Remaining Training Time
- Normally held outside in a training area and on the road
- Pre-trip inspection training
- Proper ways of turning a tractor-trailer
- How to back up the trailer
- Ways to drive in real world conditions such as the city or highway
- Best ways to couple and uncouple trailer from the rig
- Driving operations such as upshifting and downshifting
- Testing and use of brake systems
How Long Are Truck Driving Programs?
Typically you will find most reputable truck driving training programs are set up for a total of 148 hours of training. This time is split between the classroom and getting some hands-on experience with actual trucks. This means that most truck driving schools can be completed in 3 to 6 weeks. However, take note that some programs may take you longer depending on some factors. These factors include:
- Type of program or school you have enrolled in
- State training requirements
- Curriculum of the school or program
- Whether or not you are training full-time or part-time
How Much Is Truck Driving School?
The price for truck driving training can vary between schools and programs. Our research has shown training can cost as little as $2000 to as high as $22,000. It seems the average is roughly between $3500 and $6000.
A few factors that can determine the cost of truck driving training can be:
- Type of school
- Area cost of living
The good news is that you may be able to find some forms of financial aid to pay for your training. This can come from grants, scholarships and even student loans. You may also find that some truck driving training programs also have payment plans available. Talk to the admissions representative from any of the schools or programs you want to attend to see if they can accommodate you.
How Can I Find the Best Truck Driving Schools?
There are a few things you need to think about and consider when looking to pick which of the truck driving schools is the right one for you. Not that this should come as a surprise to anyone. You need to have some parameters to be able to pick one of the truck driving training programs that is unless you want to throw caution to the wind and pick one of the truck driving training programs randomly.
Below you will find some of ways of narrowing down the list of truck driving training programs. This can help you zero in on a school or program that will best fit your needs and your goals. You can click on the tabs to read more.
What Types of Truck Driving Schools Are There?
There are four types of truck driving schools you can choose from. Each has their advantages and disadvantages which you can see listed below.
Company-run truck driving training programs are what it sounds like. These programs are owned and operated by trucking companies.
- Possible lower up-front cost
- Quicker training programs
- Job usually ready when you complete training
- Contract to work for the company for one or two years
- Faster training is very much like a boot camp with no time to screw up
- Will have to pay a penalty if you don’t complete your contract
These schools exist strictly as a business and are known as “results-oriented” schools. Usually privately owned and operated. Great for those who want to learn quick and not be stuck in a contract.
- Many private schools are licensed meaning you can receive some financial aid
- Most of these truck driving schools have job placement services
- Can be higher in price
- Must do a little research on the training program to avoid finding a fly by night school
Typically this is a private school that works in conjunction with a trucking company to train new employees. Slightly different than a company-owned school since the training program and the trucking company just have a working agreement.
- Lower or no up-front cost
- Contract training that can mean quality to keep the relationship between company and school
- Student signs a contract with company sponsor to work for a determined amount of time
- If you break the contract, the legal implications can be huge
Many community colleges offer truck driving training programs. Typically you can find community colleges all around the country.
- Generally cheaper than private schools
- Advanced and up-dated facilities
- Most of these schools are accredited, so there is the possibility of financial aid
- Training may take longer than the other training programs
- Getting in to one may be a challenge since classes are more limited
Tips for Choosing the Right Training Program
As mentioned previously, it is recommended that you do some research on any school you are interested in so you know you are going to a real deal. Below you will find a checklist that you can use to compare the truck driving training programs and schools. This can make it a bit easier when trying to decide which one to enroll in.
- Start off by deciding how far you are willing to travel to get training
- Make a list of all of the truck driving schools within the area you want to train in
- Compare the cost of all the school
- Check on financial aid or payment plans to help pay for training
- See if the program has been licensed, you can do this by just asking the school and contacting the state licensing agency
- See how long each training program takes to complete
- Find out if the school or program has had complaints or licensing issues
- Programs certified by the Professional Truck Driving Institute (PTDI) can be helpful since this is one of the best guarantees that the school meets high standards
- Ask if the truck driving training program is accredited, granted accreditation is usually only used by community colleges
- Get a copy of the school catalog or program curriculum to compare with other programs
- Plan a visit to the school and get a feel for the program
- Meet with students and faculty for their take on the training
- Search the internet for reviews – good or bad – on all of the truck driving training programs you have on your list
- Don’t be afraid to ask friends, family or truck drivers their opinions on which programs are the best
- Find out how much drive-time is involved in the program not including observation, pre-trip inspections and simulator time
- Ask the admissions office for their CDL pass/fail rate
- See if the school has a job placement program in place to help you find your first job
Some Priorities to Consider When Comparing Truck Driving Schools
Besides some of the important parts on the checklist we’ve provided, there are some other factors you may want to seriously consider when looking at truck driving training programs. These are what call the priorities. While the specific priorities for you may be slightly different, these are some factors you should think about.
- Location of the school
- Cost of the training
- Class size – or instructor to student ratio
- Quality of instructors including experience behind the wheel and how up to date they are on regulations and trends
- Employment possibilities through job placement
- The type and quality of trucks and facilities to train with
- Length of training on average
- History of the training program including how long the school has been around and if has any infractions by licensing groups
- Whether or not you want to sign a contract with a trucking company to help pay for training
What Are Some Questions to Ask the School?
The following are some questions that we recommend you ask the admissions office of any of the truck driving training programs you want to enroll in. Some of these may sound like repeats from the priorities and tips portion of this page but this may help you remember to ask them.
- How much does training cost?
- Is it possible to get financial aid?
- Can I set up a payment plan?
- Do you work with any of the trucking companies that can may hire me when I finish training?
- How long does training take?
- When are classes normally held?
- How many hours do I spend behind the wheel?
- How many hours are spent in the classroom?
- What topics are taught in the classroom?
- Where do I get to practice driving? (city, highway, on the lot)
- What kind of backing maneuvers are taught?
- How much time is spent learning backing maneuvers versus driving?
- Will I be able to learn on both an automatic and manual transmission?
- What is the experience in years of the instructors?
- Do you have PTDI certified courses?
- In a normal class, what is the student to truck ratio?
- Will I learn to couple and uncouple trailers?
- Do you have recruiters visit your school? If so, which companies and how often?
- Will I get a chance to do some night driving?
- Will I get to practice with loaded trailers? If so, how much weight?
- Will I eligible to earn a full Class A CDL when I complete training?
- What is the student to instructor ratio both in class and behind the wheel?
- What type of equipment is used?
- Will we learn about map reading and trip planning? If so, will I get the opportunity to practice?
- Are you licensed? Certified? Accredited?
- What happens if I fail the CDL exam? Do I have to pay extra?
- What are the requirements I need to meet in order to enroll in your program?
- How long has this truck driving school been in business?
Your Future Is Waiting For You!
So what are you waiting for? If you are interested in learning a new career that can change your life for the better, then there is no time like the present. Truck driving training programs are actively looking for new students!
We hope that this page has given you some better insight on what to expect and what you should look for when it comes to truck driving schools. While you should always go with your gut feeling, we hope that our recommendations will help make the search a bit easier. Use our suggestions and advice as your resource to finding the best truck driving training program and you will not regret it!