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How to Evaluate a Trucking School
When you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you want to pursue, you can begin the process of researching the Auburn AL truck driver schools that you are considering. As already discussed, location and cost will certainly be your initial considerations. But it can't be emphasized enough that they must not be your only considerations. Other factors, such as the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally if not more important. So following are some additional things that you need to research while conducting your due diligence prior to enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few truck driver schools in the Auburn AL area are accredited because of the demanding process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, 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 certain advantages. Interested students recognize that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will be given plenty of driving time. As an example, PTDI calls for 44 hours of real driving time, not simulations or ride-alongs. So if a school's program is certified (the program, not the school is certified), students know that the training and curriculum will measure up to the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One indicator to help measure the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly ranked or a fly by night school typically will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the best of Auburn AL schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so use it as one of several qualifiers. You can also find out what the school's track record is relating to successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won't provide those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally have relationships with regional and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only affirms an excellent reputation within the industry, but also bolsters their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn't hurt to get in touch with the Alabama licensing department to verify that the CDL trucker schools you are reviewing are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Alabama and hire teachers that are experienced and trained. We will talk more about the teachers in the next segment. Also, the student to instructor ratio should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, then students will not be obtaining the personalized instruction they will need. This is especially true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And watch out for any school that claims it can train you to drive trucks in a comparatively short time period. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. The majority of Auburn AL schools provide training programs that range from 3 weeks to as long as two months, depending on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Instructors? As already mentioned, it's important that the instructors are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time requirements to qualify as a teacher, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also crucial that the teachers stay current with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing teachers may be a little more intuitive than other standards, and perhaps the best method is to check out the school and speak with the teachers in person. You can also speak with some of the students going through the training and find out if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.
How Much Driving Time? Above all else, a great truck driver school will provide plenty of driving time to its students. Besides, isn't that what it's all about? Driving time is the real time spent behind the wheel operating a truck. While the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are important training tools, they are no substitute for real driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will become. Although driving time fluctuates between schools, a reasonable standard 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 Auburn AL schools you are looking at and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It's possible to get free or discounted training from a number of trucking schools if you make a commitment to be a driver for a specified carrier for a defined amount of time. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So instead of maintaining associations with a wide range of trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only refer to one company. The benefit is receiving less expensive or even free training by giving up the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Obviously contract training has the potential to restrict your income prospects when starting out. But for many it may be the ideal way to obtain affordable training. Just make sure to find out if the Auburn AL schools you are considering are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there CDL Testing Onsite? There are some states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its students. If onsite testing is available in Alabama, find out if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than competing with graduates of competing schools for test times at Alabama testing facilities. It is also an indication that the DMV regards the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Flexible? As formerly mentioned, CDL training is only about 1 to 2 months long. With such a short duration, it's important that the Auburn AL school you select provides flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. As an 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 have it mastered. And if you're still holding a job while going to training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Placement Provided? As soon as you have received your CDL license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be keen to start your new career. Make sure that the schools you are considering have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement rate is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking companies their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a low job placement rate or not many Auburn AL employers recruiting their grads, it might be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Truck driving schools are comparable to colleges and other Auburn AL area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being offered. Ask if the schools you are evaluating have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that need to be submitted.