AIT (American Institute Of Trucking) Phoenix, AZ Vs Other 160 Hr Courses

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Bsrlinmaz's Comment
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Editor's Note: see our fantastic review of AIT Truck Driver Training

Can someone with firsthand knowledge explain to me what the primary differences are between the American Institute of Trucking 3 month course, (in Phoenix AZ) and most of the 160-hour, 1 month courses? AIT's 3 month course costs approx. $7200, while down the road are a cpl of other private CDL schools, which are approx. half the cost, and done in approx. 4 weeks. I spoke face-to-face with the recruiter at Phoenix Institute of Trucking, and their course sounds to be about par with what most of the 160-hour courses are offering:

WK 1 - Classroom, learning to pass the permit tests, and getting the permit/endorsements/physical/drug test, etc.

WK 2 thru 4 - Learning to pass the CDL tests, both written and driving, with combination of classroom work, drive range, and driving on local streets/roads.

The Phoenix Institute of Trucking course (4-week, 160 hrs) is approx. $4000 vs the $7200 (approx.) price at AIT.

So how much more involved is the AIT course, that it is three times longer? Both courses involve going full-time, five days per week. I am hoping to get information from people who have actually taken the AIT course, regardless of whether you passed or failed, so that I may compare what students have to say against what the recruiters have to say?

I've been researching a lot of schools and companies, and it seems that for the majority, when I graduate from a private CDL school the company will then put me in their own orientation program, of an average of a week. Then after passing that, I would then be paired with a driver trainer/mentor, and have to drive with that person as a trainee, for a time which varies from company to company.

If that is the norm...what do I really gain by attending the course which is three times longer, and costs a LOT more? Granted, I would probably have more time behind the wheel, and more time studying PTI, more time spent backing, etc. -- but it looks like no matter how much time I spend doing that in the school, the majority of the trucking companies that will hire a newly graduated CDL holder with no experience are going to require me to go through their orientation, and their on-road training/mentoring program.

I guess what I'm really trying to decide is whether the addition 8 weeks of training are going to make me that much more safe as a new driver, and more desirable as a new-hire to trucking companies...I understand that the failure rate during the first year is extremely high...new driver's make mistakes, due to inexperience, and can get terminated because of those mistakes, and the record follows them. So the additional 8 weeks spent in the school would possibly better prepare me to lessen the odds of that happening to me?

But eight additional weeks, that I am paying for, seems like a lot of money and time. I am going to go to one or the other of these schools...hopefully within the next few weeks, and just need more feedback from others who have experienced them first hand, before I make the final decision and spend a bunch of money. $4000 versus $7200 is a big difference, and I'd read somewhere that when comparing schools in the same area if there is a big difference in prices, one should try to find out why.

Am I overlooking something, or looking at this from the wrong perspective? Any and all feedback, advice, etc., would be GREATLY appreciated. Thank you for your time and assistance.

Stay safe out there. good-luck.gif

CDL:

Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Old School's Comment
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Am I overlooking something, or looking at this from the wrong perspective?

Okay, I think maybe I can help you out on this one. Not knowing all the particulars I might be a little bit off, but here's how this typically breaks down.

Usually when you come across a three month course it will be offered through a Junior College or Technical institute of some sort. The reason for the length is that they need it to take up an entire semester so that they can receive funding and accreditation for their course. When you attend a four week private truck driving school you will attend Monday - Friday all day every day of the work week for four weeks straight. A working person simply cannot do that without losing their job.

Those semester long courses are usually offered at a convenient time of the day for a working person to attend. They will only be a few hours each day. There are pros and cons to each one, but generally the semester long course covers more than the private four week courses. Here's the catch though. Either way a person goes, the main objective of the course is to get the student a commercial drivers license so they can go get a truck driving job. Most of the real training one receives is during their time with a trainer at their first job, and the time they spend during their first year running solo.

So, as long as you get a certificate indicating that you've had 160 hours training you will be good to go and should have no problems finding employment. If you are unemployed the shorter course will put you in the workforce quicker. If you have a job and need to keep it while getting ready for your new career, the longer course may work better for you.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Bsrlinmaz's Comment
member avatar

Can anyone offer advice about this, even if you've not actually attended AIT's school (having a hard time finding anyone who has)? I'm able to get a student loan for the AIT school...but for the other, they are not accredited properly, so I'm not able to get a Federal Student Loan.

But the money is not the primary issue...I'm just trying to make a decision as to whether the additional eight weeks is really worth it...looking for thoughts/opinions in that regard...would the extra eight weeks of training and driving make the transition into real-world driving less stressful, and really help reduce the odds of me messing up during my first 6 months, or is the difference from "school driving/training" to real-world driving going to be hard no matter what? And most carriers are going to put me through their orientation and then driving with their trainer/mentor driver anyway.

On one hand I think I would be into the real world driving quicker, and thus making money sooner, with the 4-week course...but on the other hand I look at the extra time in the longer school as better preparing me, and so in the long run might be better because I would (hopefully) be reducing the odds of my messing up during my first 6-12 months on the road...so I'm sitting here on the fence, stuck, and literally frozen. confused.gif

Thank you for your time and assistance.

Bsrlinmaz's Comment
member avatar
double-quotes-start.png

Am I overlooking something, or looking at this from the wrong perspective?

double-quotes-start.png

Okay, I think maybe I can help you out on this one. Not knowing all the particulars I might be a little bit off, but here's how this typically breaks down.

Usually when you come across a three month course it will be offered through a Junior College or Technical institute of some sort. The reason for the length is that they need it to take up an entire semester so that they can receive funding and accreditation for their course. When you attend a four week private truck driving school you will attend Monday - Friday all day every day of the work week for four weeks straight. A working person simply cannot do that without losing their job.

Those semester long courses are usually offered at a convenient time of the day for a working person to attend. They will only be a few hours each day. There are pros and cons to each one, but generally the semester long course covers more than the private four week courses. Here's the catch though. Either way a person goes, the main objective of the course is to get the student a commercial drivers license so they can go get a truck driving job. Most of the real training one receives is during their time with a trainer at their first job, and the time they spend during their first year running solo.

So, as long as you get a certificate indicating that you've had 160 hours training you will be good to go and should have no problems finding employment. If you are unemployed the shorter course will put you in the work force quicker. If you have a job and need to keep it while getting ready for your new career, the longer course may work better for you.

double-quotes-end.png

double-quotes-end.png

Thank you for your reply/advice...I type extremely slow, and typed my other reply while you were posting yours.

Thank you again for your information.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Bsrlinmaz's Comment
member avatar

As I mentioned in my other reply, the extra time does seem to be due to them wanting to be able to be accredited so students can get Federal Funding.

I'm 56 years old, and think back to first time doing anything -- first time driving as a kid, first time doing a task at a new job, etc. -- there is always that period of being new at it, when I am self-conscious, nervous, etc., and during which the odds are more mistakes are made, I'm slower, etc. So my thinking is the extra time in the 12-week school would take some of that newness and nervousness out of the equation, because I will have been doing it for eight more weeks, and help me stay out of situations where I might get terminated for a rookie mistake.

I am going back to the AIT offices tomorrow, Monday, to speak face-to-face, and want to ask them more questions about the training times, days-per-week, etc. I was under the impression that the 12 weeks at AIT would be full-time, (Monday thru Friday, 40-hours per week), but perhaps I misunderstood. If the 12 week time frame is because I would be going less than full-time everyday, every week, then the four week course does seem the way to go.

Thank you for your time and assistance.

Old School's Comment
member avatar

I don't think the extra length of school really amounts to any benefit. The end goal is all the same - to get you licensed.

We recently had someone asking why they even had to go to trucking school, because as soon as they got a job they had to re-learn everything the way the company wanted them to do it.

There is a lot of truth in that. You are going to learn so much with your trainer at your first job, and you are going to learn even more during your first year of solo driving - that is where the real education is. I would recommend that you go with the four week course if you have the ability to attend school all day every day. Find a school that will help you with job placement and get the ball rolling, you'll be glad you did.

And don't forget to go through the High Road Training Program.

CDL:

Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.
Old School's Comment
member avatar

One more thing. Have you considered Company-Sponsored Training ? That is a great way to get your new career underway without putting out hardly any money yourself. If you are not familiar with this then follow that link to a really great way to save some money and still accomplish your goal. A lot of the drivers here in this forum took that path, it is a great way to get started.

CDL:

Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.

Company-sponsored Training:

A Company-Sponsored Training Program is a school that is owned and operated by a trucking company.

The schooling often requires little or no money up front. Instead of paying up-front tuition you will sign an agreement to work for the company for a specified amount of time after graduation, usually around a year, at a slightly lower rate of pay in order to pay for the training.

If you choose to quit working for the company before your year is up, they will normally require you to pay back a prorated amount of money for the schooling. The amount you pay back will be comparable to what you would have paid if you went to an independently owned school.

Company-sponsored training can be an excellent way to get your career underway if you can't afford the tuition up front for private schooling.

Bsrlinmaz's Comment
member avatar

One more thing. Have you considered Company-Sponsored Training ? That is a great way to get your new career underway without putting out hardly any money yourself. If you are not familiar with this then follow that link to a really great way to save some money and still accomplish your goal. A lot of the drivers here in this forum took that path, it is a great way to get started.

I originally started my research into the schools and carriers on "another forum", and based on what I was seeing posted there, I was sure all the "mega carriers" were out to rip me off, take advantage of me, etc., etc. -- but now I am getting information from other points of view (I just joined this forum yesterday), and now I'm forced to re-think my initial plan (which was to go the private school path so as not to have to work it off for any particular company). If I go to the private school, I will still have an obligation to repay the student loan, and if i go through company-paid training I have to repay them also...so to the point: Yes, I am seriously considering company training, and am currently getting information regarding KNIGHT, as they have training here in Phoenix.

I have not made a decision yet...have waited 56 years to do this, so a few more days, or a week, looking at options, is not a bad thing...as they say "Hind-sight is 20-20", and I don't want to be mumbling, "...coulda, shoulda..." six to twelve months from now, LOL.

CDL:

Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.

Company-sponsored Training:

A Company-Sponsored Training Program is a school that is owned and operated by a trucking company.

The schooling often requires little or no money up front. Instead of paying up-front tuition you will sign an agreement to work for the company for a specified amount of time after graduation, usually around a year, at a slightly lower rate of pay in order to pay for the training.

If you choose to quit working for the company before your year is up, they will normally require you to pay back a prorated amount of money for the schooling. The amount you pay back will be comparable to what you would have paid if you went to an independently owned school.

Company-sponsored training can be an excellent way to get your career underway if you can't afford the tuition up front for private schooling.

Jason E.'s Comment
member avatar

At AIT's Las Vegas location I was offered a 4-Week Course and then 6-Weeks in training with your pre-hire company, or $7,500 if you financed. I couldn't figure out the difference, because they both have 4 weeks of instruction and then 6 weeks working for whichever pre-hire you decide on (I'm aiming for Werner). So I'm thinking the financing option is more because they're tacking on a ridiculous fee or something, or possibly the interest. More likely they're trying to get their money back on people they don't collect from. Who knows.

Best Regards, Jason E.

Pre-hire:

What Exactly Is A Pre-Hire Letter?

Pre-hire letters are acceptance letters from trucking companies to students, or even potential students, to verify placement. The trucking companies are saying in writing that the student, or potential student, appears to meet the company's minimum hiring requirements and is welcome to attend their orientation at the company’s expense once he or she graduates from truck driving school and has their CDL in hand.

We have an excellent article that will help you Understand The Pre-Hire Process.

A Pre-Hire Letter Is Not A Guarantee Of Employment

The people that receive a pre-hire letter are people who meet the company's minimum hiring requirements, but it is not an employment contract. It is an invitation to orientation, and the orientation itself is a prerequisite to employment.

During the orientation you will get a physical, drug screen, and background check done. These and other qualifications must be met before someone in orientation is officially hired.

Wild M.'s Comment
member avatar

Well, I am an AIT student. Once upon a time I would have endorsed this school, but now I am like this school needs to beef up their supply chain of companies willing to provide the externship requirements needed to officially graduate. This school claims to show on DAC reports, while not all trucking schools do. This school also claims a A+ score with BBB.org. Well, that's all fine and dandy hype, but what about job placement assistance, or having regular job fairs to help these students find a company that they can do their externship with? Well, that's where no matter if you're in AIT's Commercial Truck Driver program or in their Professional Truck Driver program the price you pay is higher. The amount of safety training hours are higher, and the requirements to graduate are harder. You do not come out of that school with a graduation certificate in your hand. You come out of that school with a CDL A with all endorsements in your hand. That school tries to sell itself on reputation and longevity in business. However, here I am finally got my CDL A with all endorsements, and over 400 hours of training by the school. I went through their Professional Truck Driver course, which is six months long, and not three months. I am still required to complete 240 hours over the road training and have a company driver trainer sign off on six weeks worth of evaluation sheets in order to be officially graduated. Guess what folks, that's where you hit the brick walls and discover that AIT is picking your pockets, but not marketing their own school to a lot of these trucking companies. That's why in the six months at AIT I never once seen a single job fair take place, and seriously having a Werner recruiter come to campus once does not constitute as sufficient opportunities for career placement. Any company that is willing to take their chance with an AIT student their road test operators get pretty ****ed off because here a community college teaches 45 degree, 90 degree, serpentine, straight line, offset backing skill, plus parallel parking a semi with trailer. AIT teaches state of Arizona min. requirements (straight line backing, off set backing, and parallel parking.) So, they expect these trucking companies to pick up their slack is what it boils down to at a greater tuition expense. I'm actually to the point of just giving up on the trucking industry, because trying to get in is too expensive for me. There's too many trucking companies out there that discriminate against AIT, and AIT graduation requirements. There's not enough staff support for job placement. AIT needs to compile a list of all of the companies they frequently work with to try and get their students the externship hours required for graduation. They give up on you if they can't get Werner, Covenant, or Watkins & Shepard to take you. I don't want to team, so Covenant is out of the question.

CDL:

Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.

Over The Road:

Over The Road

OTR driving normally means you'll be hauling freight to various customers throughout your company's hauling region. It often entails being gone from home for two to three weeks at a time.

DAC:

Drive-A-Check Report

A truck drivers DAC report will contain detailed information about their job history of the last 10 years as a CDL driver (as required by the DOT).

It may also contain your criminal history, drug test results, DOT infractions and accident history. The program is strictly voluntary from a company standpoint, but most of the medium-to-large carriers will participate.

Most trucking companies use DAC reports as part of their hiring and background check process. It is extremely important that drivers verify that the information contained in it is correct, and have it fixed if it's not.

EPU:

Electric Auxiliary Power Units

Electric APUs have started gaining acceptance. These electric APUs use battery packs instead of the diesel engine on traditional APUs as a source of power. The APU's battery pack is charged when the truck is in motion. When the truck is idle, the stored energy in the battery pack is then used to power an air conditioner, heater, and other devices

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