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How to Evaluate a Trucking School
Once you have decided which CDL you would like to pursue, you can start the undertaking of researching the Troy AL truck driver schools that you are looking at. As already discussed, 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, including the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly or even more important. So following are several more factors that you should research while conducting your due diligence before enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many trucking schools in the Troy AL area are accredited because of the stringent 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 obligated to become certified, but there are a number of advantages. Potential students recognize that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will be given lots of driving time. For example, PTDI requires 44 hours of actual 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 curriculum and training will measure up to the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One indicator to help determine the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in business. A poorly reviewed or a fly by night school normally will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the best of Troy AL schools had to start from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifiers. You can also find out what the school's history is concerning successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won't supply those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally have relationships with regional and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only points to a quality reputation within the profession, but also boosts their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to check with the Alabama licensing authority to confirm that the CDL trucking schools you are considering are in good standing.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Alabama and employ teachers that are experienced and trained. We will discuss more about the instructors in the following segment. Also, 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 personalized attention they will need. This is particularly true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And watch out for any school that professes it can teach you to be a truck driver in a relatively short period of time. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. The majority of Troy AL schools offer training programs that range from three weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Teachers? As earlier stated, it's essential that the instructors are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time requirements to qualify as a teacher, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also vital that the teachers keep up to date with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing teachers might be a bit more subjective than other criteria, and perhaps the best approach is to pay a visit to the school and speak with the teachers in person. You can also speak with some of the students going through the training and ask if they are satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher's qualification to train them.
Sufficient Driving Time? Most importantly, a good truck driving school will provide lots of 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 driving a truck. While the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are important training methods, they are no substitute for real driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she 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 provide no less than 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Troy AL schools you are considering and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It's possible to obtain free or discounted training from a number of truck driving schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a particular carrier for a defined time period. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than maintaining associations with a wide range of trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only work with one company. The benefit is receiving free or less expensive training by giving up the freedom to initially work wherever you choose. Clearly 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 get affordable training. Just make sure to find out if the Troy AL schools you are considering are independent or captive 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 available in Alabama, ask if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to offer it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than battling with graduates from other schools for test times at Alabama testing centers. It is also an indicator that the DMV believes the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Accessible? As previously mentioned, truck driving training is just 1 to 2 months in length. With such a brief term, it's important that the Troy AL school you choose offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. For example, if you're having a hard time learning a particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be willing to spend more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you're still employed while going to training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Assistance Provided? The moment you have acquired your commercial driver's license after graduating from trucking school, you will be eager to begin your new career. Make sure that the schools you are looking at have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement rate is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking companies their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a lower job placement rate or few Troy AL employers recruiting their graduates, it might be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Trucking schools are much like colleges and other Troy AL area technical or vocational 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 least someone who can help you get through the options and forms that need to be submitted.