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How to Assess a Truck Driver School

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Once you have decided which CDL you would like to pursue, you can begin the process of assessing the Leeds AL truck driving schools that you are considering. As already mentioned, cost and location will undoubtedly be your primary concerns. But it can't be stressed enough that they must not be your sole concerns. Other variables, for example the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly or even more important. So below are a few more factors that you need to research while conducting your due diligence before choosing, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.

Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few truck driving schools in the Leeds AL area are accredited due to the rigorous process and cost to the schools. However, certification is more common and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are several advantages. Potential students recognize that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will receive lots of driving time. As an example, PTDI mandates 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 curriculum and training will fulfill the very high standards set by PTDI.

How Long in Business? One indicator to help determine the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in business. A negatively reviewed or a fly by night school typically will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the top Leeds AL schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also ask what the school's history is pertaining to successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won't provide those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should also have relationships with local and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only points to a quality reputation within the industry, but also boosts their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to check with the Alabama licensing authority to confirm that the CDL trucking schools you are reviewing are in good standing.

How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Alabama and employ teachers that are experienced and trained. We will cover more about the teachers in the next segment. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it's any higher, then students will not be obtaining the personal attention they will need. This is especially 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 drive trucks in a comparatively short time frame. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. Most Leeds AL schools offer training courses that run from three weeks to as long as two months, depending on the class of license or type of vehicle.

How Good are the Teachers? As earlier stated, it's essential that the instructors are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though several states have minimum driving time requirements to be certified as an instructor, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It's also important that the teachers stay current with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating teachers might be a bit more intuitive than other standards, and possibly the best method is to pay a visit to the school and talk to the teachers face to face. You can also speak with some of the students completing the training and find out if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher's qualification to train them.

Plenty of Driving Time? Above all else, a good truck driving school will furnish sufficient 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. Even though the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are necessary training methods, they are no replacement for actual driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will become. And even though driving time fluctuates between schools, a good standard is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish at least 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Leeds AL schools you are considering and find out how much driving time they furnish.

Are they Independent or Captive ? It's possible to get free or discounted training from certain truck driving schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a specified 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 rather than maintaining relationships with many different trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only work with one company. The benefit is receiving free or less expensive training by surrendering the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Obviously contract training has the potential to restrict your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the ideal way to get affordable training. Just be sure to ask if the Leeds AL schools you are contemplating are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.

Is there Onsite CDL Testing? There are a number of states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its grads. If onsite testing is available in Alabama, find out if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to offer it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than contending with graduates of other schools for test times at Alabama testing centers. It is also an indication that the DMV views the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.

Are the Class Times Convenient? As previously mentioned, truck driver training is only about 1 to 2 months in length. With such a brief duration, it's essential that the Leeds AL school you enroll in offers flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. As an example, if you're having a hard time learning a certain driving maneuver, then the instructor should be willing to dedicate more time with you until you are proficient. And if you're still employed while going to training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other obligations.

Is Job Assistance Offered? The moment you have obtained your CDL license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be eager to begin your new career. Make sure that the schools you are reviewing have job placement 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 placed with for hiring. If a school has a poor job placement rate or few Leeds AL employers hiring their grads, it may be a clue to search elsewhere.

Is Financial Assistance Offered? Trucking schools are much like colleges and other Leeds AL area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. Ask 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 need to be submitted.

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