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How to Evaluate a Truck Driver School
As soon as you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you wish to pursue, you can begin the undertaking of assessing the Selma AL trucking schools that you are looking at. As previously discussed, location and cost will undoubtedly be your initial concerns. But it can't be emphasized enough that they must not be your sole considerations. Other variables, such as the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally if not more important. So below are some more factors that you need to research while carrying out your due diligence prior to enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few trucking schools in the Selma AL area are accredited due to the rigorous process and cost to the schools. However, 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 several advantages. Potential students recognize that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will be given an ample amount of driving time. For example, PTDI requires 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 indicator to help evaluate the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in business. A poorly rated or a fly by night school usually will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the best of Selma AL schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also find out what the school's track record is pertaining to successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won't provide those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should also maintain relationships with local and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only affirms a quality reputation within the trade, 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 considering are in compliance.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Alabama and employ teachers that are trained and experienced. We will discuss more about the teachers in the next segment. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should be no higher than 4 to 1. If it's any higher, then students will not be receiving the personalized attention they will need. This is particularly true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And look out for any school that claims it can teach 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. The majority of Selma AL schools offer training courses that range from three weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Instructors? As already mentioned, it's imperative that the instructors are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time requirements to qualify as an instructor, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It's also important that the instructors keep up to date with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating teachers may be a bit more intuitive than other criteria, and perhaps the best 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 quality of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.
Enough Driving Time? Most importantly, a good truck driver school will provide sufficient driving time to its students. After all, isn't that what it's all about? Driving time is the real time spent behind the wheel driving a truck. Although the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are essential training tools, they are no replacement 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 Selma AL schools you are looking at and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can receive discounted or even free training from some truck driving schools if you make a commitment to be a driver for a specific 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 maintaining associations with a wide range of trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only refer to one company. The tradeoff is receiving less expensive or even free training by giving up the flexibility to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Naturally contract training has the potential to reduce your income prospects when starting out. But for many it may be the ideal way to obtain affordable training. Just be sure to ask if the Selma 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 permit third party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its grads. If onsite testing is permitted in Alabama, ask if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to offer it. One benefit is that it is more convenient than contending with graduates of other schools for test times at Alabama testing locations. It is also an indication that the DMV views the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Accessible? As previously mentioned, truck driving training is only about 1 to 2 months long. With such a short term, it's essential that the Selma AL school you choose offers flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. For example, if you're having difficulty learning a certain driving maneuver, then the instructor should be prepared to dedicate more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you're still employed while attending training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Assistance Offered? Once you have attained your CDL license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be eager to start your new profession. Verify that the schools you are contemplating have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement rate is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking firms their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a poor job placement rate or not many Selma AL employers hiring their graduates, it might be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Truck driver schools are comparable to colleges and other Selma AL area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. Find out if the schools you are examining have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that must be completed.