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How to Assess a CDL School
As soon as you have decided which CDL you wish to pursue, you can start the process of researching the Pinson AL truck driving schools that you are looking at. As earlier mentioned, location and cost will no doubt be your primary concerns. But it can't be stressed enough that they should not be your sole concerns. Other variables, such as the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly if not more important. So below are some more factors that you need to research while carrying out your due diligence before choosing, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few trucking schools in the Pinson AL area are accredited because of the demanding process and cost 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. Interested students recognize that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will get plenty of driving time. For example, PTDI requires 44 hours of real driving time, not simulations or ride-alongs. So if a school's program is certified (the program, 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 assess the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in business. A poorly reviewed or a fly by night school normally will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the best of Pinson AL schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifiers. You can also learn what the school's history is pertaining to successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won't supply those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally have relationships with local and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only confirms a superior reputation within the profession, but also boosts their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to get in touch with the Alabama licensing authority to confirm that the CDL trucker 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 proportion should not be greater than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, then students will not be obtaining the personalized 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 claims it can train you to drive trucks in a comparatively short time frame. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. Most Pinson AL schools provide training courses that run from 3 weeks to as long as two months, depending on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Trainers? As earlier mentioned, it's imperative that the instructors are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. 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 vital that the instructors keep up to date with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating teachers might be a bit more subjective than other standards, and perhaps the ideal method is to visit the school and speak with the instructors in person. You can also talk to some of the students going through the training and find out if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher's qualification to train them.
How Much Driving Time? Above all else, a great truck driver school will furnish sufficient driving time to its students. Besides, 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 simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are necessary training methods, they are no substitute for actual driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. And even though driving time can vary between schools, a reasonable benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide at least 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Pinson AL schools you are looking at and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It's possible to get discounted or even free training from a number of trucking schools if you make a commitment to drive for a specified carrier for a defined time period. This is called contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of having relationships with many different trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only work with one company. The tradeoff is receiving free or less expensive training by giving up the freedom to initially work wherever you choose. Naturally contract training has the potential to restrict your income prospects when starting out. But for many it may be the best way to obtain affordable training. Just be sure to ask if the Pinson AL schools you are looking at are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer CDL Testing Onsite? There are several states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is permitted in Alabama, find out if the schools you are considering 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 locations. It is also an indication that the DMV regards the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Flexible? As formerly mentioned, truck driver training is only about one to two months long. With such a brief duration, it's important that the Pinson AL school you select provides flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. As an example, if you're having difficulty learning a certain driving maneuver, then the teacher should be prepared to commit more time with you until you are proficient. 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 Provided? As soon as you have attained your CDL license after graduating from trucking school, you will be eager to start your new profession. Make sure that the schools you are looking at have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement rate is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking companies their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a poor job placement rate or few Pinson AL employers hiring their grads, it may be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Truck driver schools are comparable to colleges and other Pinson AL area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being available. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that must be completed.