13 Truck Driving Schools in Montana
We Show You Where the Best Truck Driving Schools in Montana are Located
We show you how to choose the best truck driving schools in Montana with our comprehensive list of truck driving schools in Montana. On this page you will also find a list of truck driving schools in Montana that have been rated and reviewed by the students themselves using a 5 star rating system. Feel free to bookmark this page for future reference by pressing Ctrl-D on your keyboard.
Avg Class Size: 15
Avg Tuition: $4,072
Avg Loan: $5,204
Truck Driving Jobs
Yearly Pay: $44,700
Monthly Pay: $3,440
Weekly Pay: $860
Hourly Wage: $21.49
National Pay: $43,590
Montana heavy truck driver jobs information was current as of May 2016 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
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Truck Driving Schools in Montana
Aaniiih Nakoda College
269 Blackfeet Avenue-Agency
Harlem, MT 59523
Blackfeet Community College
504 SE Boundary Street
Browning, MT 58417
Flathead Valley Community College
777 Grandview Drive
Kalispell, MT 59901
Flathead Valley Community College
225 Commerce Way
Libby, MT 59923
Fort Peck Community College
605 Indian Avenue
Poplar, MT 59255
† Truck driving school offers truck driver training programs that are certified to meet the standards of the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI).
** Truck driving school is accredited by the Better Business Bureau (BBB).
How to Choose the Best Truck Driving Schools in Montana
Most truck driving schools in Montana train their students by following the same basic curriculum. In the classroom, students are taught what they need to know to pass the written knowledge test when they go to obtain their Montana commercial drivers license. This includes coursework in:
- The driving laws and safety regulations as they pertain to truck driving in the state of Montana.
- The different mechanical and safety parts of a semi.
- The various driving techniques needed to competently operate a tractor trailer.
In the training yard, students observe and practice operating a tractor trailer using the techniques they were taught in the classroom, so that they will be prepared to pass the pre-trip inspection and the driving test when they go to obtain their Montana commercial drivers license.
That’s basically it. There may be minor differences in how the coursework is handled from school to school but, the end objective is always the same; train students to become safe, knowledgeable, and highly qualified commercial truck drivers who are ready to obtain their Montana CDL and begin their truck driving career.
With that being said, there are a few things you will need to take into careful consideration when choosing a truck driving school in Montana. The decision you make could lead you on the path to a great learning experience or a dead end disaster. Although they teach the same thing, not all truck driving schools are the same.
Of all the factors you need to consider when choosing a truck driving school in Montana, the tuition cost will invariably be near the top of the list. Let’s face it, the final decision you make will determine the quality of training you receive and the amount of money you pay to receive that training. Although price is not necessarily the most important factor when choosing a truck driving school, it is still very important. In the real world, you get what you pay for. The same holds true when it comes to education and vocational training. Now, don’t get me wrong. There may be one or two truck driving schools in Montana that charge an outrageous amount of money for mediocre training. Remember, a truck driving school is a business, and like any other business, it is in business to make a profit so that it can stay open. Like any other business, there are good ones and there are bad ones. On average, CDL training in Montana should cost somewhere between $2,500 and $4,500. There is usually a $500 difference in pricing between competing truck driving schools in the same general location. If the difference in price between schools in the same location is more or less than $500, you may want to do some research and find out why one school charges much more than the others. Here are some questions you may want to find the answers to when doing your research:
- Is their equipment more modern than the other schools?
- Do they only train students in simulators or in tractor trailers?
- How much “behind the wheel” time do they give their students?
- Do they have more instructors on their payroll?
- Do they have larger class sizes and, therefore, more wear and tear on their trucks, and higher fuel expenses?
- Do they have more trucks for the students to train on than the other schools?
- Do they go above and beyond the state minimum “required hours of training”?
- Are they accredited by the Professional Truck Driver Institute?
- Are they accredited by the Better Business Bureau?
- Do they award student scholarships or participate in state and federal grant programs?
- Do they have a more successful job placement program than the other schools?
If the answer to these questions invariably comes up as “no”, then that school is most likely charging students more money for no other reason than to make a higher profit.
Almost all truck driving schools in Montana offer financial aid. Student financial aid can help lower the cost of attending school. Many truck driving schools in Montana actively participate in state and federal grant programs and even give out scholarships for academic excellence. Student loans are also available for those who qualify. Fill out the Federal Application for Student Financial Aid (FAFSA) and check with the financial aid office of the school to see if there are any available student grants, scholarships, or loans you may qualify for if you decide to attend.
When choosing a truck driving school, be wary of any school that promises to get you trained and on the road in two weeks or less. Not only is this unrealistic, it is also unsafe. Commercial driver training should take anywhere from three weeks to three months to complete. There are two main factors that will determine the length of a school’s CDL training program. They are:
- Full-time vs. Part-time training.
- State mandated regulations.
Full-time training programs will usually be much shorter since the students will be going to class and training five days a week. Part-time classes will usually be longer since the students will only be training on nights and weekends. Another factor that will determine the length of a school’s CDL training program is the minimum amount of hours a student is required to train both in the classroom and in the yard. Some states require students to acquire a minimum of 160 hours of CDL training while other states do not. If a truck driving school promises to train you and get you ready to take your CDL tests in a week… RUN!… in the other direction! These type of schools are called “CDL mills” and they are only out to take your money and get you out the door as fast as possible so they can exploit a new batch of unsuspecting students. Trust me, learning how to safely and competently operate a tractor trailer takes longer than seven days. Passing the CDL tests and obtaining your commercial drivers license doesn’t make you a well-trained truck driver anymore than getting a hunting license makes you a great hunter.
Location, location, location. In a perfect world, the best truck driving school would be the school that is closest to where you live. Unfortunately, we don’t live in a perfect world and so, you may have to travel some distance to get the best CDL training in Montana. Think of it as job preparation. If you can’t even handle the daily commute to truck driving school then, maybe you’re pursuing the wrong profession. If the best truck driving school is hours away or in another state, then obviously you’ll have to take living expenses into account. Some truck driving schools provide room and board for an added expense and may put you up in a hotel until your training is complete. One more thing to consider. If you do decide to attend a truck driving school outside the state of Montana, be sure to read up on the rules and regulations for transferring your out of state CDL to the state of Montana. You may have to simply fill out a few forms or you may have to retake the written test, the driving test, or both. Also, make sure that the amount of hours you will receive during your out-of-state CDL training will meet the minimum required hours for obtaining your CDL in the state of Montana.
Behind the Wheel Time
Probably one of the single most important factors to consider when choosing a truck driving school is how much “behind the wheel” drive time they give their students. Not simulator time or passenger seat observation time but, shifting, steering, braking, backing up, and parking time. Remember, most truck driving school students have never even been inside a semi. Driving a tractor trailer competently and confidently takes practice, practice, and more practice. The amount of drive time a school gives their students directly impacts the price of tuition because of the expenses involved. It will also impact how well you can drive a tractor trailer when you graduate.
Ratio of Instructors to Students
First of all, when you attend a truck driving school, you are paying for an education. You can’t get an education unless you are given instruction, and you can’t get instruction without an instructor. Paying hundreds or thousands of dollars to a school to be “self-taught” would be just plain dumb. But, in essence, that’s what you are doing if the truck driving school you attend has too many students and too few instructors. Almost all truck driving schools in Montana are set up the same way. There is a building where students are given classroom instruction and there is a training yard where students are given driving instruction. In order to keep costs down and profits up, some schools will have four or five students sitting in the cab with the instructor instead of one-on-one instruction. They may also have multiple students training behind the wheel of two or three semis at the same time while the instructors walk from truck to truck, educating the students on the right way and wrong way to maneuver the vehicle. While being behind the wheel and getting some drive time is a good thing, not having one-on-one instruction the entire time can be very detrimental to your ability to learn how to maneuver a tractor trailer correctly. In order to learn a skill, you must practice it over and over again until it becomes “second nature”. The problem is, if you are practicing something the wrong way, you will eventually be ingrained with bad habits, and it is a well known fact that it is harder to get rid of bad habits than it is to pick them up in the first place.
The instructors are the cornerstone of any truck driving school. Without instructors, all you have is a building with a bunch of books, and a parking lot full of tractor trailers. It is the instructors that will ultimately make you or break you. A good truck driving school will have good instructors, and good instructors will be knowledgeable, experienced, nurturing, and enthusiastic about what they’re teaching.
If you are paying thousands of dollars for an education, you want to learn from the best, and the best instructors become the best at what they are teaching through years of experience. Would you want to be taught by someone who just graduated from truck driving school a year ago? Of course not. You want to be trained by someone who knows what it’s like to have to maneuver a 53 foot rig through a crowded city, or what it’s like to carry a five ton load over hilly terrain, or what it takes to beat the clock and deliver a time sensitive load on time. You want instructors who will not only lecture but will also listen. Instructors who will listen to your questions and to your concerns. Instructors who will take the time to help you catch up with the rest of the class if you happen to learn at a slower pace. Instructors who are there because they want to be, not because they have to be. They should be up-to-date with all the industry trends and regulations.
Before you shell out thousands of dollars to a truck driving school, set up an appointment to tour the school and meet the instructors. Before you arrive at the school, write down any questions you would like to ask the instructors about the program and about their experience in the field of truck driving. Talk to some of the students and ask them if they’re pleased with the instructors, the program, and the equipment. You may want to schedule a tour towards the end of the school’s semester so the students can give you a good review of their training experience.
Some truck driving schools in Montana may be accredited by the Professional Truck Driver Institute or PTDI. The Professional Truck Driver Institute
is a non-profit organization that advocates truck-driver training standards, driver professionalism, and safety. They introduced a uniform skill performance, curriculum, and certification standard in 1989 in order to raise the bar on the truck driver training process. Although it isn’t necessary to be accredited by the PTDI in order to be a reputable truck driving school, only reputable truck driving schools are accredited by the PTDI, as it is an expensive and stringent process to become PTDI accredited.
Since truck driving schools in Montana are businesses and therefore, should be held accountable for their business practices and ethics, you may want to check to see what kind of rating or reviews a school has received by the Better Business Bureau. Do they have an “A” rating or an “F” rating? Do they have any unresolved complaints that have been brought forth by the students of the school? Is the school accredited by the Better Business Bureau? Truck Driving Schools in Montana that are BBB accredited must commit to a high standard of honesty and fairness in order to receive an “A” rating. BBB accreditation isn’t necessary to make a truck driving school a great school but, it does show that the school takes its business practices very seriously and holds itself accountable to a higher standard.
Let’s face it, the main reason for going to truck driving school is to get a good paying job when you graduate. How successful a school is in getting their graduates good paying jobs with reputable trucking companies is one of the main factors to consider when choosing a truck driving school. If a school’s job placement program has a low success rate, then you may want to consider going to a trucking school with a higher job placement rate. There are many reputable trucking companies in Montana that will hire graduates with little to no truck driving experience if they graduated from a reputable truck driving school.
You want your truck driving school experience to be educational, beneficial, and fun. Choose the right school and it will be. Choose the wrong one, and your truck driving career could stall before it even starts.
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