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How to Research a Truck Driving School

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Once you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you wish to obtain, you can start the undertaking of evaluating the Prattville AL truck driver schools that you are considering. As already mentioned, location and cost will certainly be your primary concerns. But it can't be emphasized enough that they must not be your only concerns. Other factors, for instance the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly or even more important. So below are a few more factors that you need to research while conducting your due diligence before enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.

Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many truck driver schools in the Prattville AL area are accredited because of the demanding process and expense to the schools. On the other hand, 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 a number of advantages. Potential students recognize that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will receive plenty of driving time. As an example, PTDI mandates 44 hours of actual driving time, not ride-alongs or simulations. So if a school's program is certified (the program, 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 clue to help assess the quality of a truck driver 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. However, even the top Prattville AL schools had to begin from their first day of training, so use it as one of several qualifications. You can also learn what the school's history is regarding successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won't supply those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should also maintain relationships with local and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only points to an excellent reputation within the trade, 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 authority to verify that the CDL trucking schools you are reviewing are in compliance.

How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Alabama and hire instructors that are trained and experienced. We will discuss more about the teachers in the next segment. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it's any higher, then students will not be obtaining the personal attention they will need. This is especially true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And be critical of any school that claims 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. Most Prattville AL schools provide training courses that range from 3 weeks to as long as two months, depending on the class of license or type of vehicle.

How Experienced are the Trainers? As already stated, it's essential 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 criteria to be certified as a teacher, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also important that the teachers stay up to date with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing teachers might be a little more intuitive than other criteria, and possibly the best method is to check out the school and talk to the teachers face to face. You can also speak with a few of the students going through the training and find out if they are happy with the quality of instruction and the teacher's qualification to train them.

Sufficient Driving Time? Above all else, a good trucking school will furnish ample 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. Even though the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are necessary training tools, they are no alternative for real driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. Although driving time fluctuates between schools, a reasonable benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Prattville AL schools you are looking at and find out how much driving time they furnish.

Are they Independent or Captive ? You can obtain discounted or even free training from certain truck driving schools if you make a commitment to drive for a specified 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 maintaining relationships with many different 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 surrendering the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Naturally contract training has the potential to limit your income opportunities when starting out. But for some it may be the only way to get affordable training. Just be sure to find out if the Prattville AL schools you are looking at are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.

Is there CDL Testing Onsite? There are some states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is allowed in Alabama, ask if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than contending with graduates from other schools for test times at Alabama testing centers. It is moreover an indication that the DMV regards the approved schools to be of a higher quality.

Are the Classes Flexible? As formerly noted, CDL training is only about one to two months in length. With such a short term, it's essential that the Prattville AL school you choose provides flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. As an example, if you're having a hard time learning a certain driving maneuver, then the teacher should be willing to dedicate more time with you until you are proficient. And if you're still working while going to training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other responsibilities.

Is Job Assistance Provided? As soon as you have acquired your commercial driver's license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be keen to start your new profession. Verify that the schools you are contemplating have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement rate is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking companies their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a low job placement rate or not many Prattville AL employers recruiting their grads, it may be a clue to search elsewhere.

Is Financial Assistance Given? Trucking schools are similar to colleges and other Prattville AL area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Find out if the schools you are assessing have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you understand the options and forms that must be completed.

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