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How to Assess a Trucking School
When you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you wish to obtain, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating the Orange Beach AL truck driving schools that you are looking at. As previously mentioned, cost and location will undoubtedly be your initial concerns. But it can't be emphasized enough that they must not be your sole considerations. Other issues, such as the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally or even more important. So below are some additional factors that you need to research while conducting your due diligence prior to choosing, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many trucking schools in the Orange Beach AL area are accredited due to the demanding process and expense to the schools. However, certification is more prevalent and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are several advantages. Interested students know that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will be given plenty of driving time. For example, PTDI calls for 44 hours of actual 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 determine the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively rated or a fly by night school normally will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the best of Orange Beach 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 relating to successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won't supply those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should also have relationships with regional and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only affirms an excellent reputation within the industry, but also boosts their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to contact the Alabama licensing authority to make sure that the CDL trucking schools you are researching are in compliance.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in Alabama and employ instructors that are experienced and trained. We will talk more about the teachers in the next segment. Also, the student to instructor proportion should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it's any higher, then students will not be getting the personal instruction they will need. This is particularly true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And look out for any school that insists it can train you to drive trucks in a relatively short time frame. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. The majority of Orange Beach AL schools provide training programs that range from 3 weeks to as long as two months, depending on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Trainers? As already mentioned, 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 prerequisites to qualify as an instructor, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also vital that the instructors keep current with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing instructors might be a little more intuitive than other standards, and perhaps the best method is to check out the school and speak with the teachers face to face. You can also speak with some of the students going through the training and find out if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher's qualification to train them.
Adequate Driving Time? Most importantly, a great trucking school will furnish 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 operating a truck. Even though the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are essential training tools, they are no substitute for real driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. Although driving time differs between schools, a reasonable benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide no less than 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Orange Beach AL schools you are researching and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can obtain discounted or even free training from certain truck driver schools if you make a commitment to be a driver for a specific carrier for a defined period of time. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of having affiliations with a wide range of trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only refer to one company. The benefit is receiving free or less expensive training by surrendering the flexibility to initially work wherever you choose. Naturally contract training has the potential to limit your income prospects when starting out. But for many it may be the best way to get affordable training. Just make sure to ask if the Orange Beach AL schools you are considering are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer Onsite CDL Testing? There are several states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its grads. If onsite testing is permitted in Alabama, ask if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than battling with graduates from competing schools for test times at Alabama testing centers. It is also an indicator that the DMV deems the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Accessible? As previously noted, truck driving training is only about one to two months long. With such a brief term, it's important that the Orange Beach AL school you choose offers 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 prepared to spend 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 fit in working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Assistance Offered? As soon as you have obtained your commercial driver's license after graduating from trucking school, you will be keen to start your new profession. Confirm that the schools you are contemplating have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking firms their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a poor job placement rate or few Orange Beach AL employers hiring their grads, it might be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Truck driving schools are comparable to colleges and other Orange Beach AL area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Ask if the schools you are evaluating have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you get through the options and forms that must be completed.