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How to Assess a CDL School
When you have determined which CDL you want to pursue, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating the Anniston AL trucking schools that you are looking at. As already mentioned, location and cost will no doubt be your primary considerations. But it can't be emphasized enough that they should not be your only considerations. Other factors, for example the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally if not more important. So following are several additional points that you should research while carrying out your due diligence before enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few trucking schools in the Anniston AL area are accredited because of the rigorous process and expense to the schools. However, certification is more commonplace and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are several advantages. Potential students recognize that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will be given an ample amount of driving time. For example, PTDI calls for 44 hours of real 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 curriculum and training will meet the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One clue to help assess the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly rated or a fly by night school usually will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the best of Anniston AL schools had to begin from their first day of training, so use it as one of several qualifications. You can also find out what the school's history is relating to successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won't supply those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally have associations with regional and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only affirms a superior reputation within the profession, but also bolsters their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn't hurt to check with the Alabama licensing authority to make sure that the CDL trucking schools you are considering are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Alabama and hire teachers that are trained and experienced. We will talk more about the instructors in the next segment. Also, the student to instructor ratio should not be greater than 4 to 1. If it's any higher, then students will not be receiving the personal attention they will need. This is particularly true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And look out for any school that claims it can train you to drive trucks in a comparatively short time period. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. The majority of Anniston AL schools offer training programs that run from three weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Instructors? As previously mentioned, it's imperative that the teachers are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although a number of states have minimum driving time prerequisites to qualify as a teacher, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also important that the instructors keep up to date with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing teachers may be a little more subjective than other criteria, and possibly the best method is to visit the school and talk to the instructors face to face. You can also speak with a few of the students going through the training and find out if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher's qualification to train them.
How Much Driving Time? Most importantly, an excellent trucking school will provide ample 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 simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are necessary training tools, they are no substitute for real driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. Although driving time fluctuates among schools, a good standard is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide no less than 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Anniston AL schools you are considering and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It's possible to receive free or discounted training from certain truck driver schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a particular carrier for a defined period of time. This is called contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than having affiliations with numerous trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only work with one company. The benefit is receiving free or less expensive training by surrendering the freedom to initially work wherever you choose. Clearly contract training has the potential to restrict your income prospects when starting out. But for some it may be the only way to get affordable training. Just remember to inquire if the Anniston AL schools you are looking at are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there CDL Testing Onsite? There are some states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its students. If onsite testing is permitted in Alabama, find out if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than battling with graduates of competing schools for test times at Alabama testing locations. It is moreover an indication that the DMV deems the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Accessible? As previously noted, CDL training is only about one to two months long. With such a short term, it's imperative that the Anniston AL school you enroll in provides flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. As an example, if you're having difficulty learning a certain driving maneuver, then the teacher should be willing to dedicate more time with you until you are proficient. And if you're still holding a job while going to training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Assistance Offered? Once you have obtained your CDL license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be anxious to start your new career. Make sure that the schools you are contemplating have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking firms their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a poor job placement rate or not many Anniston AL employers recruiting their grads, it might be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? Truck driving schools are comparable to colleges and other Anniston AL area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being available. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you get through the options and forms that must be completed.