Everything You Need to Succeed at Truck Training School

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There has probably never been a better time to attend a truck training school. The shipping industry is desperate for drivers, as are many other industries – such as bus driving – which also require workers have a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL). If you attend a good truck driving school and do well, you’ll have an open door to a new career that could last for years, or even decades.

So, in this guide, we wanted to talk about what to look for in a truck driving school, and how to best succeed once you’ve chosen a school. Let’s dig in!

I. Choosing A Truck Training School

The single most important thing for you to do when choosing a truck driving school is research. This is not something you should sign up for on a whim! You should investigate every school in your area before deciding and, if possible, look for testimonials from former students who can attest to the school’s quality.

In particular, here are some things you should investigate:

1 – Private schools vs paid training

Many shipping companies and similar businesses are now offering free or heavily discounted, training for new hires. This can be an excellent way of getting your CDL, especially if you lack the resources to pay for your own education.

However, there is one significant issue to consider: you’ll be under contract with that company for several years, at the least, as they pay off their investment in you. If you simply want a new job, this might not be a problem, or might even be a plus. But if you want the freedom to be an independent operator – or dream of owning your own truck – being locked into a long-term contract could cause problems down the line.

2 – Cost

If you live in Ottawa and you choose to attend a private truck driving school, look closely at the costs associated. This is a ‘you get what you pay for’ situation. A trucking school that offers cut rates, or claims their program is “free” (it’s not), is not going to provide the same quality of education. It really is worth paying extra for a high-quality program.

Remember, this isn’t an abstract subject like learning calculus in school. Once you’re on the road, you’ll be sitting on top of thousands of tons of cargo, moving at extremely high speeds. If you aren’t properly trained, you could be in a lot of trouble.

3 – Location

Truck driving schools are a rare situation where choosing the nearest school isn’t always the right choice. If you live in Ottawa, the best trucking academies are going to be located outside of the city. This allows them to build up extensive facilities for giving you hands-on training, such as simulated construction job sites. Not to mention simply giving you a lot of room to practice, without having to worry about city traffic.

If you choose a truck driving school that’s in the middle of the city, you probably aren’t going to get the same level of hands-on training. That could hold you back, once you’re working in the real world.

4 – Trained instructors

How does the school recruit its instructors, and what sort of background do those instructors have? Ideally, they should be mostly – or entirely – made up of people with extensive experience within the truck driving industry. The best schools will actively seek out the best and most experienced instructors, and that will greatly increase the value of your training. No textbook can compete with the accumulated knowledge of someone who’s been driving for decades.

II. Succeeding at Truck Training School

Once you’ve picked a great school, you may be past the hardest choice – but the hard work has only begun. Success or failure will be entirely up to you.  Here are some tips to help ensure that success!

1 – Never lie on your application

For many people, truck driving is a second chance at a new life. They may have elements of their past they’d prefer not to disclose or medical issues they’d be tempted to hide. Do not do this. Both the truck driving school and potential employers, can and will run background checks.

If you’re honest on your application, the school and employers will work with you. Again, the industry is desperate for drivers, and they’ll do whatever they can to secure motivated workers, even those with a checkered past. But if you lie, you’ll be rejected – and possibly blacklisted.

2 – Get all your affairs in order ahead of time

You don’t want to split your attention when attending a truck training school. Most courses only run for a few weeks, or a few months at most, so you’re not looking at a massive time commitment – but you will need to be fully committed while you’re there. Many schools even have residential housing and will strongly encourage you to remain on-site the entire time.

Truck driving school should be your new full-time lifestyle until you graduate. Treating it like a part-time gig will set you up for failure.

3 – Learn what you can before school starts

Be an overachiever! Once you’ve been accepted to a school, start doing your own independent study. All the laws and regulations are on the public record, and you can learn even more from sites like the Ministry of Transportation site. This will give you a leg up and make the classroom portions of training much easier.

In particular, remember to study up on both Canadian and United States laws. You may be crossing the border frequently, especially on high-paying long-haul jobs.

4 – It’s OK to feel overwhelmed

Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Everyone who attends truck driving school may feel overwhelmed at times during training. Find stress outlets or talk to your instructors to work through any fears you may have. Do what you need to keep your mind clear and calm so that you can focus on completing your training.

5 – Keep your sense of humor

Here’s a little tip: people with bad attitudes rarely make it through truck driving training, and don’t last long in the industry if they do. Having a good sense of humor will do so much to help you keep your calm and shrug off minor problems that arise.

5th Wheel Training Institute is one of the oldest and most respected truck training schools in Canada. We have extensive industry contacts and are one of the top choices for recruiters looking for new drivers. If you’re from Ottawa and ready to launch an exciting and lucrative new career in commercial driving, click here to learn more about our programs!




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