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How to Research a Truck Driver School
After you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you wish to pursue, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating the Attalla AL truck driving schools that you are looking at. As already mentioned, location and cost will certainly be your primary considerations. But it can't be emphasized enough that they must not be your sole concerns. Other factors, for instance the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly or even more important. So below are some additional points that you need to research while performing your due diligence prior to choosing, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many trucking schools in the Attalla AL area are accredited because of the rigorous process and cost to the schools. However, certification is more typical and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are several advantages. Interested students recognize that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will get plenty of driving time. For example, PTDI calls for 44 hours of real driving time, not simulations or ride-alongs. So if a school's course is certified (the course, not the school is certified), students know that the training and curriculum will measure up to the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One clue to help measure 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 stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the top Attalla AL schools had to begin from their first day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifiers. You can also find out what the school's track record is regarding successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won't share those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should also maintain associations with regional and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only affirms a quality reputation within the industry, but also bolsters their job placement program for students. It also wouldn't hurt to get in touch with the Alabama licensing authority to make sure that the CDL trucking schools you are reviewing are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Alabama and employ instructors that are experienced and trained. We will talk more about the instructors in the following section. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should not be greater than 4 to 1. If it's any higher, then students will not be obtaining 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 teach you to be a truck driver in a relatively short time frame. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. Most Attalla AL schools offer training programs that run from three weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Instructors? As previously stated, it's essential that the teachers are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though several states have minimum driving time requirements to qualify as an instructor, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It's also important that the teachers stay up to date with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing teachers may be a little more intuitive than other criteria, and perhaps the ideal method is to visit the school and speak with the teachers in person. You can also speak with a few of the students going through the training and ask if they are satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.
Adequate Driving Time? Above all else, a good trucking school will furnish plenty of driving time to its students. Besides, isn't that what it's all about? Driving time is the actual time spent behind the wheel driving a truck. Even though the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are essential training tools, they are no alternative for actual driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. Although driving time varies between schools, a reasonable benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish at least 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Attalla AL schools you are looking at and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It's possible to obtain discounted or even free training from certain truck driver schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a specific 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 instead of maintaining relationships with numerous trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only work with one company. The benefit is receiving free or less expensive training by giving up the flexibility to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Obviously contract training has the potential to limit your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the best way to obtain affordable training. Just make sure to ask if the Attalla AL schools you are looking at are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer Onsite CDL Testing? There are several states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its students. If onsite testing is permitted in Alabama, ask if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than battling with graduates from competing schools for test times at Alabama testing locations. It is moreover an indication that the DMV views the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Flexible? As previously mentioned, truck driver training is only about one to two months in length. With such a short term, it's important that the Attalla AL school you enroll in offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. For example, if you're having a hard time learning a certain driving maneuver, then the instructor should be willing to dedicate more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you're still working while attending training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Placement Offered? The moment you have received your commercial driver's license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be anxious to begin your new career. Verify that the schools you are reviewing have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking firms their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a poor job placement rate or few Attalla AL employers hiring their graduates, it might be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? Truck driving schools are much like colleges and other Attalla AL area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Find out if the schools you are assessing have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you understand the options and forms that must be completed.