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How to Research a Trucking School
Once you have decided which CDL you wish to pursue, you can start the process of researching the Jacksonville AL trucking schools that you are considering. As previously mentioned, location and cost will no doubt be your initial concerns. But it can't be emphasized enough that they should not be your only considerations. Other variables, for instance the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly if not more important. So following are a few more points that you should research while carrying out your due diligence prior to enrolling in, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many truck driving schools in the Jacksonville AL area are accredited due to the rigorous process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more prevalent and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are several advantages. Potential students know that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will be given 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 course is certified (the course, not the school is certified), students know that the training and curriculum will comply with the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One indicator to help measure the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in business. A negatively ranked 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 Jacksonville AL schools had to begin from their first day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifiers. You can also learn what the school's track record is relating to successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won't share those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally have relationships with regional and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only confirms a superior reputation within the trade, but also boosts their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to get in touch with the Alabama licensing department to make sure that the CDL trucker schools you are considering are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Alabama and hire instructors that are experienced and trained. We will discuss more about the teachers in the following segment. Also, the student to instructor proportion should be no higher 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 concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And watch out for any school that professes it can teach you to be a truck driver in a relatively short period of time. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. Most Jacksonville AL schools provide training programs that run from three weeks to as long as two months, depending on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Instructors? As already stated, it's essential that the teachers are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though several states have minimum driving time prerequisites to be certified as an instructor, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also crucial that the instructors keep up to date with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing teachers may be a bit more subjective than other criteria, and perhaps the best approach is to check out the school and talk to the instructors face to face. You can also speak with a few of the students completing the training and ask if they are satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.
How Much Driving Time? Above all else, an excellent trucking school will furnish 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 driving a truck. Although the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are essential training tools, they are no substitute for real driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will become. Although driving time can vary among schools, a good standard is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide at least 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Jacksonville AL schools you are looking at and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It's possible to get free or discounted training from a number of truck driving schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a particular 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 instead of maintaining affiliations with numerous trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only refer to 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 reduce your income prospects when starting out. But for some it may be the best way to receive affordable training. Just make sure to ask if the Jacksonville AL schools you are contemplating are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer Onsite CDL Testing? There are a number of states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its students. If onsite testing is permitted 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 competing with graduates from competing schools for test times at Alabama testing centers. It is also an indication that the DMV believes the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Convenient? As previously noted, truck driver training is only about one to two months in length. With such a short term, it's important that the Jacksonville AL school you enroll in provides flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. As an example, if you're having difficulty learning a particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be willing to spend more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you're still working while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Assistance Offered? Once you have received your CDL license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be keen to begin your new profession. Confirm that the schools you are looking at have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement rate is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking firms their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a lower job placement rate or not many Jacksonville AL employers recruiting their graduates, it might be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Trucking schools are comparable to colleges and other Jacksonville 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 assessing have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you get through the options and forms that must be completed.