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How to Assess a Truck Driving School
Once you have determined which CDL you would like to pursue, you can start the process of assessing the Greenville AL truck driving schools that you are looking at. As previously mentioned, location and cost will undoubtedly be your initial concerns. But it can't be emphasized enough that they should not be your only concerns. Other issues, for example the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly if not more important. So following are some more factors 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 driving schools in the Greenville 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 required to become certified, but there are several advantages. Prospective students know that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will be given plenty of driving time. As an example, PTDI requires 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 curriculum and training will measure up to the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help determine the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in business. A negatively ranked or a fly by night school usually will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the top Greenville AL schools had to start from their opening day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also learn what the school's history is concerning successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won't provide those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally have associations with regional and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only points to a superior reputation within the profession, but also bolsters their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to contact the Alabama licensing authority to verify that the CDL trucker schools you are researching are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in Alabama and employ teachers that are trained and experienced. We will cover more about the instructors in the following segment. In addition, 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 individual instruction they will need. This is especially true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And watch out for any school that professes it can train you to drive trucks in a relatively short time frame. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. The majority of Greenville AL schools provide training courses that run from 3 weeks to as long as two months, based on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Teachers? As earlier mentioned, it's essential that the teachers are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though several states have minimum driving time prerequisites to be certified as a teacher, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also crucial that the teachers keep up to date with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating teachers may be a little more intuitive than other standards, and perhaps the ideal approach is to check out the school and talk to the instructors face to face. You can also talk to a few of the students going through 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? Most importantly, an excellent truck driver school will provide ample driving time to its students. Besides, isn't that what it's all about? Driving time is the actual time spent behind the wheel driving a truck. Even though the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are necessary training methods, they are no replacement for real driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. And even though driving time can vary among schools, a good benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Greenville AL schools you are looking at and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can obtain discounted or even free training from some truck driver schools if you make a commitment to be a driver for a particular 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 rather than having associations with numerous trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only work with one company. The benefit is receiving free or less expensive training by giving up the freedom to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Clearly contract training has the potential to restrict your income opportunities when starting out. But for many it may be the best way to receive affordable training. Just remember to find out if the Greenville AL schools you are looking at are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there CDL Testing Onsite? There are a number of states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is permitted in Alabama, ask if the schools you are reviewing 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 also an indication that the DMV deems the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Flexible? As earlier noted, CDL training is only about 1 to 2 months long. With such a brief term, it's essential that the Greenville AL school you enroll in provides flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. For example, if you're having difficulty learning a certain driving maneuver, then the teacher should be willing to commit more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you're still employed while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Assistance Provided? As soon as you have acquired your commercial driver's license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be anxious to start your new career. Make sure that the schools you are considering have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking companies their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a poor job placement rate or few Greenville AL employers recruiting their graduates, it might be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Truck driver schools are comparable to colleges and other Greenville 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 understand the options and forms that need to be completed.