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How to Evaluate a Truck Driver School
When you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you want to obtain, you can start the process of evaluating the Guntersville AL truck driver schools that you are looking at. As already discussed, cost and location will undoubtedly be your initial considerations. But it can't be emphasized 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 if not more important. So following are a few more factors that you should research while conducting your due diligence before selecting, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few truck driving schools in the Guntersville AL area are accredited due to the demanding 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 recognize that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will receive plenty of driving time. As an example, PTDI calls for 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 curriculum and training will measure up to 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 poorly rated or a fly by night school normally will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the best of Guntersville AL schools had to start from their first day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also learn what the school's track record is pertaining to successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won't supply those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally have relationships with regional and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only affirms a quality reputation within the trade, but also bolsters their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to check with the Alabama licensing authority to verify that the CDL trucker schools you are considering are in good standing.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Alabama and hire teachers that are trained and experienced. We will talk more about the teachers in the next segment. 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 attention they will need. This is especially true regarding 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 comparatively short time period. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. Most Guntersville AL schools offer training courses that range from three weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Instructors? As already stated, it's imperative that the teachers are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. 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 vital that the instructors keep up to date with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating teachers may be a bit more subjective than other criteria, and possibly the best approach is to visit the school and talk to the teachers in person. You can also talk to a few of the students going through the training and find out if they are satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.
How Much Driving Time? Above all else, a great truck driver school will provide 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 driving a truck. While the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are important training methods, they are no substitute for real driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. Although driving time differs among schools, a good benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Guntersville AL schools you are looking at and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can get free or discounted training from a number of truck driver schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a particular carrier for a defined time period. This is what's known as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of maintaining affiliations with a wide range of trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only work with one company. The tradeoff is receiving less expensive or even free training by surrendering the flexibility to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Clearly contract training has the potential to reduce your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the ideal way to receive affordable training. Just be sure to ask if the Guntersville AL schools you are looking at are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there Onsite CDL Testing? There are some states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its grads. If onsite testing is allowed in Alabama, find out if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than competing with graduates from other schools for test times at Alabama testing centers. It is moreover an indication that the DMV regards the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Convenient? As previously noted, truck driver training is only about 1 to 2 months in length. With such a short duration, it's essential that the Guntersville AL school you select offers flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. As an example, if you're having a hard time learning a particular driving maneuver, then the teacher should be prepared to commit 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 commitments.
Is Job Assistance Offered? The moment you have obtained your commercial driver's license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be keen to begin your new career. Verify that the schools you are considering have job placement programs. Ask 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 hiring. If a school has a poor job placement rate or not many Guntersville AL employers recruiting their grads, it might be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Trucking schools are similar to colleges and other Guntersville AL area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being offered. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have a financial assistance department, or at least someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that need to be completed.