It can be a daunting task to try to figure out exactly where you should go for school. If you follow a step-by-step process, however, which includes thoroughly researching different types of programs and inquiring about help with tuition, you may find yourself done and ready to start school sooner than you thought possible!
- Research Programs
Although practically all trucking programs offer certificate diplomas, and you won’t have to decide between other types of tracks (such as associate or bachelor degree tracks), you still have multiple options. Some curricula only last three months, while others take six. Although you technically don’t need to have a certificate from a trucking school in order to become a truck driver, you will have better job prospects if you do. You might find such programs at private trucking schools or as part of community college offerings. You might want to look for programs that have received special certifications or accreditations. For example, the Professional Truck Driver Institute has certified a small number of programs that meet the standards of both the industry and the Department of Transportation. You may be better off in applying to one of these programs, as such a certification ensures that you will be adequately prepared to handle all of the issues and regulations you will face as a truck driver.
- Consider Your Preferences
Figuring out what length and type of program you want to go to is just one step in the process. There are a lot of other factors to think about when deciding what institution to attend. Ask yourself questions such as: Where do I want to go to school? What kind of commute am I willing to adopt? Do I want to go to a school offered by a private trucking company or at a community college? What size school do I want to attend? Are there any specific classes I want to take? If you can answer these questions, chances are you will find yourself with a short list of schools that fit your preferences. You might also want to find out information about the relationship different schools have with nearby trucking companies. If you can find a school that partners with companies that recruit drivers straight from school, you may be better off going there. It never hurts to try to secure yourself a job early on in the process!
- Look into Tuition Rates
As much as it would be nice if you didn’t have to worry about money when it comes to school, chances are you have a budget for your trucking education. The good news is that many programs are affordable because they are so short. The other good news is that tuition rates vary by program, so you are bound to find something within your price range. The third piece of good news is that even if you can’t afford very much, financial aid opportunities abound. If you have your heart set on a school but can’t afford their rates, you can always apply for loans, grants, and scholarships. Some of these are acquired by filling out the FAFSA, a federal form that may qualify you for help from the government, and others may be obtained by applying to specific scholarships offered by your school. When in doubt, call your future institution’s financial aid office.