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How to Assess a Trucking School
When you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you want to obtain, you can start the undertaking of researching the Sylacauga AL truck driver schools that you are looking at. As previously mentioned, location and cost will certainly be your primary concerns. But it can't be emphasized enough that they should not be your only concerns. Other variables, for example the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally or even more important. So below are several more factors that you should research while carrying out your due diligence before enrolling in, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few truck driver schools in the Sylacauga AL area are accredited because of the rigorous process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more common and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are several advantages. Prospective students recognize that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will be given lots of driving time. As an example, PTDI calls for 44 hours of real driving time, not simulations or ride-alongs. So if a school's course is certified (the course, not the school is certified), students know that the training and curriculum will fulfill the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One indicator to help evaluate the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in business. A negatively rated or a fly by night school normally will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the best of Sylacauga AL schools had to start from their opening day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also find out what the school's history is regarding successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won't supply those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally have associations with local and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only points to a superior reputation within the industry, but also bolsters their job placement program for students. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to check with the Alabama licensing department to verify that the CDL trucker schools you are reviewing are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in Alabama and employ teachers that are trained and experienced. We will discuss more about the instructors in the following section. Also, the student to instructor proportion should be no higher than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, then students will not be getting the personal attention they will need. This is especially true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And be critical of any school that professes it can teach you to drive trucks in a comparatively short time period. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. Most Sylacauga AL schools offer training courses that run from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Instructors? As already mentioned, it's imperative that the teachers are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though several states have minimum driving time criteria to qualify as an instructor, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It's also important that the instructors keep current with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating instructors might be a bit more intuitive than other standards, and possibly the best approach is to check out the school and speak with the teachers face to face. You can also speak with a few of the students completing the training and ask if they are satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher's qualification to train them.
Plenty of Driving Time? Above all else, a great trucking school will furnish 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 ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are essential training tools, they are no substitute for real driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. Although driving time varies between schools, a good standard is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide no less than 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Sylacauga AL schools you are considering and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It's possible to get discounted or even free training from some truck driver schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a specific carrier for a defined time period. This is referred to 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 refer to one company. The tradeoff 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 restrict your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the ideal way to obtain affordable training. Just be sure to inquire if the Sylacauga AL schools you are looking at are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer Onsite CDL Testing? There are several states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its grads. If onsite testing is permitted in Alabama, find out if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to offer it. One benefit is that it is more convenient than contending with graduates of competing schools for test times at Alabama testing facilities. It is also an indicator that the DMV views the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Flexible? As formerly noted, CDL training is just 1 to 2 months long. With such a short term, it's essential that the Sylacauga 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 teacher should be prepared to dedicate more time with you until you are proficient. And if you're still holding a job while going to training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Placement Provided? Once you have attained your CDL license after graduating from trucking school, you will be anxious to start your new profession. Confirm 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 placed with for hiring. If a school has a poor job placement rate or not many Sylacauga AL employers hiring their grads, it may be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Given? Truck driving schools are comparable to colleges and other Sylacauga AL area trade or technical 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 understand the options and forms that must be submitted.