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How to Research a Truck Driving School

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Once you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you wish to obtain, you can begin the process of evaluating the Alexander City AL trucking schools that you are looking at. As earlier mentioned, location and cost will undoubtedly be your primary concerns. But it can't be stressed enough that they should not be your only concerns. Other issues, such as the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly or even more important. So following are some more things that you should research while conducting your due diligence prior to enrolling in, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.

Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few truck driver schools in the Alexander City AL area are accredited because of the stringent process and expense to the schools. However, certification is more commonplace and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Prospective students recognize that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will be given plenty of driving time. For example, PTDI mandates 44 hours of actual driving time, not ride-alongs or simulations. So if a school's program is certified (the program, not the school is certified), students know that the training and curriculum will satisfy the very high standards set by PTDI.

How Long in Operation? One indicator to help determine the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively rated or a fly by night school normally will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the best of Alexander City AL schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so use it as one of several qualifications. You can also find out what the school's track record is concerning successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won't share those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should also maintain relationships with regional and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only confirms a quality reputation within the trade, but also bolsters their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn't hurt to check with the Alabama licensing department to confirm that the CDL trucking schools you are researching are in good standing.

How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in Alabama and employ instructors that are experienced and trained. We will cover more about the teachers in the next section. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should not be greater than 4 to 1. If it's any higher, then students will not be getting the personal instruction they will need. This is especially true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And look out for any school that insists it can train you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short time frame. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. The majority of Alexander City AL schools offer training courses that range from three weeks to as long as two months, based on the license class or kind of vehicle.

How Experienced are the Teachers? As previously mentioned, it's important that the teachers are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though several states have minimum driving time requirements to be certified as an instructor, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also vital that the teachers keep up to date with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating instructors might be a bit more subjective than other standards, and possibly the ideal approach is to pay a visit to the school and talk to the instructors in person. You can also talk to a few of the students completing the training and ask if they are happy with the quality of instruction and the teacher's qualification to train them.

Adequate Driving Time? Above all else, a good truck driver school will furnish plenty of driving time to its students. After all, isn't that what it's all about? Driving time is the real time spent behind the wheel driving a truck. Even though the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are essential training methods, they are no replacement for actual driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. And even though driving time differs between schools, a good benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Alexander City AL schools you are researching and find out how much driving time they provide.

Are they Captive or Independent ? It's possible to obtain discounted or even free training from a number of trucking schools if you make a commitment to drive for a particular carrier for a defined period of time. This is what's known as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So rather than maintaining relationships with numerous trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only refer to one company. The benefit is receiving free or less expensive training by surrendering the freedom to initially work wherever you choose. Naturally contract training has the potential to restrict your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the ideal way to get affordable training. Just make sure to find out if the Alexander City AL schools you are contemplating are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.

Provide Onsite CDL Testing? There are several states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its grads. If onsite testing is available in Alabama, find out if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than battling with graduates of other schools for test times at Alabama testing locations. It is also an indicator that the DMV views the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.

Are the Class Times Accessible? As earlier mentioned, truck driver training is only about one to two months in length. With such a short duration, it's important that the Alexander City AL school you select provides flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. For example, if you're having difficulty learning a particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be prepared to devote more time with you until you are proficient. And if you're still working while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other commitments.

Is Job Placement Offered? Once you have attained your commercial driver's license after graduating from trucking school, you will be anxious to begin your new career. Verify that the schools you are contemplating have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking companies their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a poor job placement rate or not many Alexander City AL employers recruiting their graduates, it may be a clue to look elsewhere.

Is Financial Aid Offered? Trucking schools are similar to colleges and other Alexander City AL area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being available. Ask if the schools you are evaluating have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that need to be completed.

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