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How to Evaluate a Truck Driver School
After you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you wish to obtain, you can begin the process of researching the Ozark AL truck driving schools that you are looking at. As earlier mentioned, location and cost will certainly be your initial considerations. But it can't be stressed enough that they must not be your sole concerns. Other variables, such as the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly or even more important. So below are some additional factors that you should 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 truck driving schools in the Ozark AL area are accredited because of the rigorous process and cost to the schools. However, certification is more common and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are several advantages. Potential students recognize that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will get lots of driving time. As an example, PTDI mandates 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 measure the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively ranked or a fly by night school normally will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the best of Ozark AL schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifiers. You can also ask what the school's history is relating to successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won't provide those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should also maintain associations with regional and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only confirms a superior reputation within the industry, but also boosts their job placement program for students. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to get in touch with the Alabama licensing department to confirm that the CDL trucking schools you are reviewing are in compliance.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in Alabama and hire instructors that are trained and experienced. We will talk more about the instructors in the following section. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should not be 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 regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And look out for any school that claims it can train you to drive trucks in a relatively short period of time. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. Most Ozark AL schools offer training courses that run from three weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Instructors? As previously mentioned, it's important that the instructors are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though several states have minimum driving time requirements to qualify as a teacher, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It's also vital that the teachers stay current with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing teachers may be a bit more subjective than other standards, and perhaps the ideal approach is to check out the school and talk to the instructors in person. You can also speak with a few of the students completing the training and ask if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.
Enough Driving Time? Most importantly, a good truck driver school will furnish plenty of driving time to its students. Besides, isn't that what it's all about? Driving time is the real time spent behind the wheel driving a truck. While the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are important training methods, they are no alternative for real driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will become. And even though driving time can vary among schools, a reasonable benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Ozark AL schools you are researching and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can obtain free or discounted training from certain trucking schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a specified carrier for a defined period of time. This is called contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So instead of having affiliations with numerous trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only work with one company. The tradeoff is receiving free or less expensive training by giving up the flexibility to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Naturally 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 be sure to find out if the Ozark AL schools you are considering are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there CDL Testing Onsite? There are some states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is permitted in Alabama, find out if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than competing with graduates from other schools for test times at Alabama testing centers. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV believes the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Accessible? As earlier noted, truck driving training is only about 1 to 2 months in length. With such a brief term, it's important that the Ozark AL school you enroll in offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. For example, if you're having a hard time learning a particular driving maneuver, then the teacher should be prepared to spend more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you're still holding a job while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to fit in 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 impatient to begin your new career. Verify that the schools you are contemplating have job assistance programs. Ask 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 referred to for hiring. If a school has a low job placement rate or few Ozark AL employers recruiting their grads, it might be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? Truck driver schools are similar to colleges and other Ozark AL area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you understand the options and forms that need to be submitted.