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How to Assess a Trucking School
After you have determined which CDL you wish to obtain, you can start the undertaking of researching the Saks AL truck driver schools that you are looking at. As already mentioned, location and cost will undoubtedly be your primary considerations. But it can't be stressed enough that they must not be your only concerns. Other variables, including the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally or even more important. So following are some additional factors that you should research while conducting your due diligence before enrolling in, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few truck driver schools in the Saks AL area are accredited due to the stringent process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more typical and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are several advantages. Prospective students know that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will get plenty of driving time. As an example, PTDI mandates 44 hours of real 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 meet the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One indicator to help evaluate the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in business. A poorly reviewed or a fly by night school typically will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the best of Saks AL schools had to start from their opening day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also find out what the school's track record is concerning successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won't provide those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain associations with regional and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only confirms an excellent reputation within the industry, but also boosts their job placement program for students. It also wouldn't hurt to contact the Alabama licensing authority to make sure that the CDL trucker schools you are researching are in good standing.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Alabama and employ instructors that are trained and experienced. We will talk more about the instructors in the following segment. Also, the student to instructor proportion should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, then students will not be receiving the individual 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 claims it can train you to be a truck driver in a relatively short time frame. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. Most Saks AL schools provide training programs that range from three weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Trainers? As previously mentioned, it's imperative that the teachers are qualified 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 professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also important that the teachers keep up to date with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating instructors might be a little more subjective than other standards, and possibly the ideal approach is to check out the school and speak with the instructors in person. You can also talk to a few of the students completing the training and find out if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.
Plenty of Driving Time? Most importantly, a good truck driver school will furnish sufficient driving time to its students. After all, isn't that what it's all about? Driving time is the actual time spent behind the wheel operating a truck. Although the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are essential training tools, they are no alternative for actual driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. And even though driving time fluctuates between schools, a good benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide at least 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Saks AL schools you are researching and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can get discounted or even free training from certain truck driving schools if you make a commitment to be a driver for a specific carrier for a defined time period. This is what's known as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So rather than having relationships with many different trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only work with one company. The tradeoff is receiving less expensive or even free training by giving up the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Obviously contract training has the potential to restrict your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the only way to obtain affordable training. Just make sure to find out if the Saks 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 allow third party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its grads. If onsite testing is available in Alabama, find out if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than contending with graduates of other schools for test times at Alabama testing facilities. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV deems the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Flexible? As previously mentioned, CDL training is only about 1 to 2 months long. With such a brief duration, it's essential that the Saks AL school you enroll in offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. As an example, if you're having difficulty learning a particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be willing to dedicate more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you're still holding a job while going to training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Placement Offered? As soon as you have received your commercial driver's license after graduating from trucking school, you will be eager to start your new career. Verify that the schools you are looking at have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking companies their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a low job placement rate or not many Saks AL employers hiring their grads, it may be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Truck driver schools are similar to colleges and other Saks AL area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Ask if the schools you are assessing have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that must be submitted.