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How to Assess a Truck Driving School

Jasper Alabama cement mixer truck with flag paint job

Once you have determined which CDL you wish to obtain, you can start the undertaking of evaluating the Jasper AL truck driving schools that you are looking at. As already mentioned, location and cost will no doubt be your initial concerns. But it can't be emphasized enough that they should not be your sole concerns. Other factors, including the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly if not more important. So following are a few more points that you need to research while conducting your due diligence prior to enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.

Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few truck driving schools in the Jasper AL area are accredited because of the stringent process and cost 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 certain advantages. Interested students recognize that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will receive an ample amount of driving time. For example, PTDI mandates 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 meet the very high standards set by PTDI.

How Long in Operation? One indicator to help assess the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in business. A negatively ranked or a fly by night school typically will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the top Jasper AL schools had to begin from their first day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifications. You can also find out what the school's history is concerning 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 a large number of contacts not only confirms a superior reputation within the profession, but also bolsters their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn't hurt to get in touch with the Alabama licensing authority to confirm that the CDL trucker schools you are researching are in compliance.

How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Alabama and hire teachers that are trained and experienced. We will cover more about the instructors in the following section. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should not be greater than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, then students will not be getting the personal attention 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 drive trucks in a relatively short time period. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. The majority of Jasper AL schools offer training programs that range from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the license class or type of vehicle.

How Experienced are the Instructors? As previously mentioned, it's important that the instructors are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time requirements to be certified as an instructor, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It's also crucial that the teachers stay up to date with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing instructors might be a bit more subjective than other criteria, and possibly the best method is to pay a visit to the school and speak with the instructors face to face. You can also talk to a few of the students going through the training and ask if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher's qualification to train them.

Adequate Driving Time? Above all else, a good truck driver school will furnish plenty of driving time to its students. After all, isn't that what it's all about? Driving time is the real time spent behind the wheel driving a truck. Although the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are necessary training methods, they are no alternative for real driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. Although driving time fluctuates between schools, a good benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish no less than 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Jasper AL schools you are considering and find out how much driving time they provide.

Are they Independent or Captive ? You can get discounted or even free training from some truck driver schools if you make a commitment to drive for a specific carrier for a defined time period. This is what's known as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So instead of having affiliations with numerous 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 be a driver wherever you choose. Obviously 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 make sure to inquire if the Jasper 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 several states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its grads. If onsite testing is allowed in Alabama, ask if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than battling with graduates of competing schools for test times at Alabama testing facilities. It is also an indication that the DMV considers the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.

Are the Classes Convenient? As formerly noted, CDL training is just 1 to 2 months long. With such a brief term, it's important that the Jasper AL school you enroll in provides flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. For example, if you're having difficulty learning a certain driving maneuver, then the teacher should be willing 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 commitments.

Is Job Assistance Provided? Once you have received your commercial driver's license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be anxious to start your new profession. Confirm that the schools you are looking at have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking firms their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a lower job placement rate or few Jasper AL employers recruiting their grads, it may be a sign to look elsewhere.

Is Financial Assistance Available? Truck driver schools are comparable to colleges and other Jasper AL area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being offered. Find out if the schools you are assessing have a financial assistance department, or at least someone who can help you understand the options and forms that must be submitted.

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