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How to Assess a Trucking School

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As soon as you have decided which CDL you want to pursue, you can begin the process of assessing the Bessemer AL truck driving schools that you are considering. As earlier discussed, cost and location will no doubt be your primary concerns. But it can't be stressed enough that they should not be your only considerations. Other issues, including the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally or even more important. So below are some more factors that you should research while carrying out your due diligence before enrolling in, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.

Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few truck driving schools in the Bessemer AL area are accredited due to the rigorous process and expense to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more common and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Prospective students know that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will be given lots of driving time. For example, PTDI requires 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 business. A poorly ranked or a fly by night school typically will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the top Bessemer AL schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also ask what the school's track record is concerning successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won't share those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally have associations with regional and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only points to a quality reputation within the trade, but also bolsters their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to contact the Alabama licensing department to verify that the CDL trucking schools you are considering are in good standing.

How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Alabama and hire teachers that are trained and experienced. We will discuss more about the teachers in the next segment. Also, the student to instructor proportion should be no higher than 4 to 1. If it's any higher, then students will not be getting the personalized instruction they will need. This is particularly true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And be critical of any school that claims it can train you to drive trucks in a comparatively short time period. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. The majority of Bessemer AL schools provide training programs that range from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the class of license or type of vehicle.

How Good are the Trainers? As already stated, it's important that the teachers are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time prerequisites to be certified as an instructor, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It's also important that the instructors stay up to date with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating instructors might be a bit more intuitive than other criteria, and possibly the ideal method is to check out the school and speak with the teachers face to face. You can also speak with some of the students completing the training and find out if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher's qualification to train them.

Adequate Driving Time? Most importantly, a good trucking school will furnish sufficient 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 simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are necessary training tools, they are no replacement for real driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. Although driving time varies among schools, a good standard is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish at least 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Bessemer AL schools you are researching and ask how much driving time they provide.

Are they Captive or Independent ? You can get free or discounted training from a number of trucking schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a specific carrier for a defined amount of time. This is what's known as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of maintaining affiliations with numerous trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only work with one company. The tradeoff is receiving less expensive or even free training by giving up the flexibility to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Clearly contract training has the potential to restrict your income prospects when starting out. But for some it may be the ideal way to receive affordable training. Just remember to find out if the Bessemer AL schools you are looking at are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.

Provide Onsite CDL Testing? There are a number of states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its students. If onsite testing is available in Alabama, find out if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than competing with graduates of competing schools for test times at Alabama testing locations. It is also an indication that the DMV views the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.

Are the Class Times Accessible? As previously noted, truck driving training is only about one to two months long. With such a short duration, it's imperative that the Bessemer AL school you enroll in provides flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. For example, if you're having difficulty learning a certain 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 fit in working hours or other obligations.

Is Job Placement Offered? The moment you have attained your CDL license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be eager to start your new profession. Verify that the schools you are contemplating have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking firms their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a lower job placement rate or few Bessemer AL employers recruiting their graduates, it might be a sign to look elsewhere.

Is Financial Assistance Offered? Truck driver schools are similar to colleges and other Bessemer AL area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being offered. Find out if the schools you are assessing have a financial assistance department, or at least someone who can help you get through the options and forms that need to be submitted.

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