As with most big life decisions, it’s not always the best move to go with the first opportunity that crosses your path. Although you may be anxious to take the next step in your career as a commercial driver, weighing your options and thinking through the pros and cons will only help — especially when it comes to choosing one of the many driving schools out there. Sure it’s a bit overwhelming to consider how much time and money formal education is bound to require, but like any investment, you’ll need to plan beyond your immediate enrollment.
Driving Schools: What Matters?
When it comes to education, you don’t want to be swayed by making unimportant factors a priority – the bottom line is getting the best quality education for your money, and ultimately a good truck driving job. But what things do you need to think about before reaching your goals?
Price and Value
So first thing’s first — how much is your CDL training going to cost? Something that always seems to stop students in their tracks is the price of their education. Really, it’s going to be a matter of understanding what you’re getting for the price and whether or not your decision is going to pay you back in the future. If you’ll get a better education for a matter of $500-$1,000, then consider what matters to your own happiness and success.
If your ideal school seems a little pricier than expected, don’t stop there — you’ll just need to ask about what grants and financing options are available. If possible, get a feel for how others are paying for their classes and see if there is one method that’s more popular than another. Remember, it’s ultimately about the value of your experience, not necessarily the just price.
Receiving your training and license by any number of company sponsored driving schools is another option. Here your education can be nearly free, it all just depends on whether that company decides to hire you once it’s all said and done.
Location, Location, Location
Of course, once you get your CDL it’s possible you’ll be in different states on a daily basis. But for now, you’ll need to consider which location will best suit your education. Sure, a lengthy commute to a better school won’t be ideal when you’ve got studying and your current employment going on, but think of this as part of your education.
Too many people won’t consider finding the best option for their education just because it’s ‘out of the way.’ If you’re in this camp, a different career path may be your best bet. Finding a school based on its merit means you’ll have pride when you make those trips several days a week — just remember it’s all part of the process.
Quality: Don’t Sell Yourself Short!
Now, there are only so many ways you can drive a truck — safely and efficiently, or completely back-asswards. Your education is going to be a learning experience, but that doesn’t mean you should get away with scraping by with the bare minimum. The quality of your learning is what really matters here, things like time spent behind the wheel, one-on-one attention, and the ability to make mistakes (believe it or not.)
Although you’re not expected to know it all, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make an honest attempt to do so! The more time you spend honing your skills in driving school, the more valuable of an employee you’ll eventually become. Again, don’t settle for a school just because it’s convenient — settle for what you deserve and don’t underestimate your worth!
Getting those First Jobs
In the end, this education is all going to lead to one thing — your future career as a commercial driver. That’s all well and good, but you may want to consider what network many driving schools have and how they are trying to help their graduates. It’s not enough to get a good education if a school isn’t providing the support and resources students need to succeed. Many driving schools and technical colleges will have online resources available for their students past and present, so if you’re at a loss for where to start your job search these can make for great, quick references.
Instructors: Learn From the Best
Although it can be fairly subjective, the experience of your instructors is what can make the difference when it comes to getting your commercial driving license. You’ll want to learn from the best, so that means people who have spent many years on the road. When it comes to knowledge, you’ll want to learn from those who are continually learning themselves — not just stopping with what they’re comfortable with. This industry is changing and growing more specialized all the time, so if you’re not continually learning, you might as well just stop driving.
Although the pursuit of education will vary, it’s important to remember that you’re doing this for YOU. Consider what factors are driving your decisions and how you can maximize your learning experience without wasting too much time or money. It may not be perfect, but taking this one step at a time will allow you to start your commercial driving career in the right gear!