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How to Research a CDL School

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When you have determined which CDL you wish to pursue, you can begin the undertaking of assessing the Enterprise AL truck driver schools that you are considering. As already mentioned, cost and location will undoubtedly be your initial considerations. But it can't be stressed enough that they must not be your only concerns. Other variables, for example the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly or even more important. So below are several additional things that you should research while conducting 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 Enterprise AL area are accredited due to the demanding process and expense to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more prevalent and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are a number of advantages. Interested students know that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will get an ample amount of driving time. As an 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 training and curriculum will comply with the very high standards set by PTDI.

How Long in Business? One indicator to help assess the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in business. A negatively reviewed or a fly by night school normally will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the top Enterprise AL schools had to start from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also learn what the school's history is relating to successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won't share those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should also have associations with regional and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only points to a quality reputation within the trade, but also boosts their job placement program for students. It also wouldn't hurt to contact the Alabama licensing department to confirm that the CDL trucking schools you are reviewing are in compliance.

How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Alabama and hire teachers that are experienced and trained. We will cover more about the instructors in the next section. Also, the student to instructor proportion 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 be critical of any school that claims it can train you to be a truck driver in a relatively short time frame. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. The majority of Enterprise AL schools offer training programs that run from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the class of license or type of vehicle.

How Experienced are the Trainers? As earlier mentioned, it's important that the instructors are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although several states have minimum driving time criteria to be certified as a teacher, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It's also important that the teachers keep current with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating teachers might be a little more intuitive than other standards, and possibly the best approach is to check out the school and talk to the teachers face to face. You can also speak with some of the students completing the training and ask if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.

Sufficient Driving Time? Above all else, a good truck driver 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 operating a truck. While the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are necessary training tools, they are no replacement for real driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will become. Although driving time can vary between schools, a reasonable standard is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide no less than 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Enterprise AL schools you are researching and find out how much driving time they furnish.

Are they Captive or Independent ? You can receive discounted or even free training from a number of trucking schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a specific carrier for a defined time period. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than maintaining affiliations with many different 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 surrendering the flexibility to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Clearly contract training has the potential to restrict your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the ideal way to get affordable training. Just remember to inquire if the Enterprise AL schools you are considering are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.

Offer CDL Testing Onsite? There are some states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is available in Alabama, ask if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more convenient than contending with graduates of competing schools for test times at Alabama testing centers. It is moreover an indication that the DMV considers the approved schools to be of a higher quality.

Are the Class Times Convenient? As previously mentioned, CDL training is only about 1 to 2 months in length. With such a short duration, it's important that the Enterprise AL school you select provides flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. As an example, if you're having a hard time learning a certain driving maneuver, then the teacher should be prepared to devote more time with you until you are proficient. And if you're still working while going to training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other responsibilities.

Is Job Assistance Provided? Once you have received your CDL license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be eager to begin your new profession. Verify that the schools you are considering have job placement programs. Find out 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 low job placement rate or not many Enterprise AL employers hiring their grads, it might be a clue to search elsewhere.

Is Financial Assistance Provided? Trucking schools are similar to colleges and other Enterprise AL area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you understand the options and forms that need to be completed.

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