How to Start a Truck Driving School
Truck driving schools are designed to help students obtain their Class A Commercial Driver's License (CDL). Class A licenses are needed to drive tractor trailers. According to Truck School USA, there are three types of truck driving schools: private, public, and motor carrier-run training programs. When opening a truck driving school, you will have to license it with your state and should seriously consider obtaining certification or accreditation. Opening a truck driving school requires significant preparation and investment.
Things You Will Need
Formulate a business plan to put your vision and the logistics of your truck driving school on paper. Your business plan should include your financial plans (your estimated operating costs, your estimated revenue, where the funding will come from), your management plans, and a market analysis explaining why your services are needed in the industry. Secure financial backing (if you do not currently have the finances to open the school) by presenting your business plan to a bank or investors in an attempt to secure a loan. You should also check with your state to see if it has any funding or grants available for such a project. Determine what you will charge participants based on what you need to cover your expenses and ensure a profit. Be sure your fees are competitive. Do your research to guarantee that your fees are not so high that you will have difficulty enrolling students but are high enough to guarantee that you will cover your expenses.
Find a facility to rent or purchase.
Purchase tractor trailers to use for instruction.
Hire staff. You will need office personnel, classroom teachers, and driving instructors.
Plan your curriculum. Consult with staff, study the CDL study guide, and create a curriculum that will help your students pass their CDL exam. Your curriculum should cover each topic in the CDL study guide, such as air brakes, control systems, and combination vehicles. You should also offer training in topics like vehicle inspection and how to drive in adverse weather conditions and on different terrains--everything your students need to learn to make them safe truck drivers. The Professional Truck Driver Institute has a recommended curriculum that requires at least 148 hours of training for each student--104 hours of instructional time and at least 44 hours of driving.
License your truck driving school with your state. The license(s) you need to open your truck driving school varies by state and locality. You can determine the license(s) you need for your specific location by visiting the business.gov website. Fees may be associated with licensing your business, depending on the state you're in and what it requires. When you contact your state agency about state laws concerning licensure, make sure to inquire about fees as well.
Acquire certification or accreditation. According to Truck School USA, only one organization currently certifies truck driving courses--the Professional Truck Driver Institute. Becoming certified is voluntary; however, it provides credibility to your institute. Accreditation adds even more credibility but is less common. Only agencies approved by the U.S. Department of Education--such as the Distance Education and Training Council and the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges--can accredit truck driving schools, and the process is challenging and expensive. Becoming accredited demonstrates that your school meets the very highest standards of quality and safety.
Contact transportation companies to see if you can partner with them to ensure graduates positions with their companies. This kind of relationship is equally beneficial as transportation companies can refer new hires who have not yet obtained their CDL to your school, and you can guarantee your students job placement.
As with any driver training program, a good amount of liability and risk are involved in operating a truck driving school. A comprehensive insurance policy is recommended.