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How to Evaluate a Trucking School
Once you have determined which CDL you want to obtain, you can start the undertaking of researching the Glencoe AL truck driving schools that you are looking at. As previously mentioned, cost and location will certainly be your primary concerns. But it can't be stressed enough that they should not be your sole considerations. Other variables, for example the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly or even more important. So below are some additional things that you need to research while carrying out your due diligence before enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few truck driver schools in the Glencoe AL area are accredited because of the rigorous process and expense 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. Prospective students know that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will get plenty of driving time. For example, PTDI mandates 44 hours of actual 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 measure up to the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One indicator to help determine the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in business. A negatively rated or a fly by night school typically will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the best of Glencoe AL schools had to start from their first day of training, so use it as one of several qualifications. You can also learn what the school's history is concerning successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won't share those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should also maintain relationships with regional and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only affirms an excellent reputation within the industry, but also boosts their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn't hurt to check with the Alabama licensing authority to confirm that the CDL trucking schools you are considering are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in Alabama and hire instructors that are trained and experienced. We will talk more about the teachers in the next segment. Also, the student to instructor ratio should not be greater than 4 to 1. If it's any higher, then students will not be receiving 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 insists it can train you to be a truck driver in a relatively short time period. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. The majority of Glencoe AL schools offer training programs that run from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Trainers? As already stated, it's important that the instructors are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although several states have minimum driving time prerequisites to qualify as a teacher, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It's also vital that the instructors stay current with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing teachers might be a bit more subjective than other standards, and perhaps the best method is to visit the school and speak with the instructors face to face. You can also speak with a few of the students completing the training and find out if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher's qualification to train them.
Adequate Driving Time? Above all else, a great trucking school will provide lots of driving time to its students. After all, 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 methods, they are no substitute for actual driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. Although driving time can vary among schools, a good standard is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Glencoe AL schools you are considering and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It's possible to receive discounted or even free training from certain trucking schools if you make a commitment 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 offer it are called captives. So instead of having associations with many different trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only work with one company. The tradeoff is receiving free or less expensive training by surrendering the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Naturally contract training has the potential to reduce your income prospects when starting out. But for some it may be the only way to receive affordable training. Just remember to ask if the Glencoe AL schools you are considering are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer Onsite CDL Testing? There are a number of states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its students. If onsite testing is allowed in Alabama, ask if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than battling with graduates from competing schools for test times at Alabama testing centers. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV considers the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Convenient? As earlier mentioned, CDL training is just 1 to 2 months long. With such a brief duration, it's imperative that the Glencoe AL school you enroll in provides 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 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 must be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Placement Offered? Once you have obtained your CDL license after graduating from trucking school, you will be impatient to start your new profession. Make sure that the schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement rate is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking firms their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a poor job placement rate or not many Glencoe AL employers recruiting their graduates, it may be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Truck driver schools are similar to colleges and other Glencoe AL area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being available. Find out if the schools you are evaluating have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you understand the options and forms that need to be completed.