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How to Assess a Truck Driving School
After you have determined which CDL you wish to obtain, you can start the process of assessing the Montevallo AL truck driving schools that you are looking at. As previously mentioned, location and cost will no doubt be your primary concerns. But it can't be emphasized enough that they should not be your only concerns. Other variables, for example the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly or even more important. So following are several more things that you should research while performing your due diligence prior to choosing, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few trucking schools in the Montevallo AL area are accredited because of the rigorous process and expense to the schools. However, certification is more commonplace and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Prospective students recognize that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will receive plenty of driving time. As an example, PTDI mandates 44 hours of real driving time, not simulations or ride-alongs. So if a school's course is certified (the course, not the school is certified), students know that the training and curriculum will satisfy the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One indicator to help determine the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly rated or a fly by night school typically will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the best of Montevallo AL schools had to start from their opening day of training, so use it as one of several qualifiers. You can also ask 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 also maintain relationships with regional and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only confirms an excellent 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 authority to make sure that the CDL trucker schools you are reviewing 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 talk more about the instructors in the following segment. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it's any higher, then students will not be receiving the individual 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 insists it can train you to drive trucks in a relatively short time period. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. The majority of Montevallo AL schools provide training programs that run from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Trainers? As earlier mentioned, it's essential that the teachers are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time prerequisites to qualify as an instructor, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also important that the teachers keep up to date with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating teachers might be a little more intuitive than other criteria, and perhaps the ideal method is to check out the school and talk to the teachers in person. You can also talk to 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.
Sufficient Driving Time? Most importantly, a good truck driver 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 operating a truck. Even though the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are essential training tools, 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. Although driving time fluctuates among schools, a reasonable standard is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Montevallo AL schools you are considering and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It's possible to receive discounted or even free training from some trucking schools if you make a commitment to be a driver for a specified carrier for a defined amount of time. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So instead of maintaining associations with numerous trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only refer to one company. The benefit is receiving less expensive or even free training by giving up the freedom to initially work wherever you choose. Clearly contract training has the potential to reduce your income prospects when starting out. But for many it may be the ideal way to get affordable training. Just remember to ask if the Montevallo AL schools you are considering are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide Onsite CDL Testing? There are a number of states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its students. If onsite testing is available in Alabama, ask if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than contending with graduates from competing schools for test times at Alabama testing centers. It is moreover an indication that the DMV views the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Convenient? As previously noted, truck driving training is just one to two months in length. With such a brief term, it's important that the Montevallo AL school you choose provides flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. For example, if you're having a hard time 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 employed while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Placement Offered? The moment you have received your CDL license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be eager to start your new career. Verify that the schools you are reviewing have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking companies their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a lower job placement rate or not many Montevallo AL employers recruiting their graduates, it may be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? Truck driving schools are comparable to colleges and other Montevallo AL area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being available. Find out if the schools you are evaluating have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that must be completed.