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How to Evaluate a Truck Driving School
After you have decided which CDL you would like to pursue, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating the Pelham AL truck driver schools that you are considering. As previously discussed, cost and location will no doubt be your initial considerations. But it can't be emphasized enough that they must not be your only concerns. Other issues, including the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly if not more important. So following are a few more things that you need to research while carrying out your due diligence prior to enrolling in, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few trucking schools in the Pelham AL area are accredited due to the stringent process and expense to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more commonplace and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Prospective 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 calls for 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 satisfy the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One indicator to help determine the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively rated or a fly by night school usually will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the best of Pelham AL schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifications. You can also learn what the school's history is relating to successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won't provide those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should also have associations with local and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only confirms an excellent reputation within the profession, but also boosts their job placement program for graduates. 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 researching are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Alabama and hire teachers that are experienced and trained. We will discuss more about the teachers in the following segment. Also, the student to instructor ratio should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, then students will not be receiving the personal instruction they will need. This is especially true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And look out for any school that professes it can teach you to drive trucks in a comparatively short time period. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. Most Pelham AL schools provide training courses that range from three weeks to as long as two months, depending on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Teachers? As earlier mentioned, it's imperative that the teachers are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time requirements to be certified as a teacher, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It's also important that the teachers keep up to date with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing instructors may be a little more subjective than other criteria, and possibly the ideal method is to check out the school and speak with 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? Above all else, a great truck driving school will provide lots of driving time to its students. Besides, isn't that what it's all about? Driving time is the actual time spent behind the wheel driving a truck. Even though the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are necessary training tools, they are no alternative for real driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. Although driving time fluctuates between schools, a reasonable benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish at least 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Pelham AL schools you are researching and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It's possible to obtain discounted or even free training from certain trucking schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a particular carrier for a defined period of time. This is what's known as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So rather than having relationships with numerous trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only work with one company. The benefit is receiving free or less expensive training by giving up the flexibility to initially work wherever you choose. Naturally 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 receive affordable training. Just remember to find out if the Pelham AL schools you are considering are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide CDL Testing Onsite? There are a number of states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its grads. If onsite testing is allowed in Alabama, ask if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more convenient than competing with graduates of competing schools for test times at Alabama testing facilities. It is also an indicator that the DMV believes the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Convenient? As formerly noted, truck driver training is just 1 to 2 months in length. With such a short duration, it's essential that the Pelham AL school you enroll in 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 instructor should be prepared to commit 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 accommodate working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Assistance Provided? Once you have attained your CDL license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be impatient to start your new career. Verify that the schools you are reviewing have job placement 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 placed with for hiring. If a school has a lower job placement rate or few Pelham AL employers hiring their graduates, it may be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Available? Truck driving schools are much like colleges and other Pelham AL area technical or vocational 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 get through the options and forms that must be completed.