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How to Research a CDL School
After you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you would like to pursue, you can start the undertaking of researching the Brook Highland AL truck driving schools that you are considering. As already discussed, cost and location will certainly be your primary concerns. But it can't be stressed enough that they must not be your sole considerations. Other variables, including the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly or even more important. So below are some additional factors that you need to research while performing your due diligence prior to choosing, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few truck driving schools in the Brook Highland AL area are accredited due to the rigorous process and cost to the schools. However, certification is more typical and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are a number of advantages. Potential students recognize that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will receive lots of driving time. As an example, PTDI mandates 44 hours of actual 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 satisfy the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help assess the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively rated or a fly by night school typically will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the top Brook Highland AL schools had to begin from their first day of training, so use it as one of several qualifiers. You can also ask what the school's history is regarding successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won't share those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should also maintain relationships with local and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only points to a quality reputation within the trade, but also bolsters their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to get in touch with the Alabama licensing authority to verify that the CDL trucker schools you are considering are in compliance.
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 talk more about the teachers in the following section. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should not be greater than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, then students will not be obtaining the individual attention they will need. This is particularly true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And be critical of any school that professes it can train you to be a truck driver in a relatively short time frame. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. Most Brook Highland AL schools offer training courses that run from three weeks to as long as two months, based on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Trainers? As previously mentioned, it's essential that the teachers are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although several states have minimum driving time requirements to be certified as an instructor, 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. Evaluating teachers might be a bit more intuitive than other standards, and possibly the best approach is to visit the school and talk to the teachers in person. You can also talk to some of the students completing the training and ask if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher's qualification to train them.
Enough Driving Time? Most importantly, a good trucking school will furnish sufficient 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. While the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are important training tools, they are no substitute for actual driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. And even though driving time can vary among schools, a reasonable standard is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish no less than 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Brook Highland AL schools you are looking at and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can obtain discounted or even free training from certain truck driver schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a specified carrier for a defined period of time. This is what's known as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than maintaining associations with numerous trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only refer to one company. The tradeoff is receiving less expensive or even free training by surrendering the flexibility to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Obviously contract training has the potential to reduce your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the ideal way to receive affordable training. Just be sure to find out if the Brook Highland AL schools you are looking at are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide CDL Testing Onsite? There are a number of states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is allowed in Alabama, ask if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to offer it. One benefit is that it is more convenient than contending with graduates from competing schools for test times at Alabama testing centers. It is moreover an indication that the DMV deems the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Flexible? As earlier noted, CDL training is just 1 to 2 months long. With such a short term, it's essential that the Brook Highland AL school you enroll in offers 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 commit more time with you until you are proficient. And if you're still holding a job while going to training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Assistance Provided? As soon as you have acquired your CDL license after graduating from trucking school, you will be eager to begin your new profession. Confirm that the schools you are considering have job placement programs. Ask 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 placed with for employment. If a school has a poor job placement rate or few Brook Highland AL employers hiring their graduates, it might be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Trucking schools are similar to colleges and other Brook Highland AL area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being offered. Ask if the schools you are examining have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that need to be completed.