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How to Assess a Truck Driving School

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When you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you would like to obtain, you can begin the undertaking of researching the Kodiak AK trucking schools that you are considering. As earlier discussed, location and cost will certainly be your primary considerations. But it can't be emphasized enough that they should not be your sole considerations. Other issues, for example the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly or even more important. So following are some additional things that you need to research while carrying out your due diligence before choosing, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.

Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many truck driving schools in the Kodiak AK area are accredited due to the rigorous process and expense to the schools. However, 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 a number of advantages. Prospective students recognize that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will receive plenty of driving time. As an example, PTDI requires 44 hours of real driving time, not ride-alongs or simulations. So if a school's course is certified (the course, not the school is certified), students know that the curriculum and training will satisfy the very high standards set by PTDI.

How Long in Operation? One clue to help determine the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in business. A poorly ranked or a fly by night school typically will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the best of Kodiak AK schools had to start from their first day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also learn what the school's track record is pertaining to successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won't share those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should also have associations with local and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only confirms an excellent reputation within the profession, but also boosts their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to get in touch with the Alaska licensing department to verify that the CDL trucker schools you are reviewing are in good standing.

How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in Alaska and employ teachers that are trained and experienced. We will cover more about the teachers in the next segment. Also, the student to instructor ratio 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 watch out for any school that professes it can teach you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short time frame. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. The majority of Kodiak AK schools offer training programs that run from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the class of license or type of vehicle.

How Experienced are the Trainers? As previously mentioned, it's essential that the teachers are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time criteria to be certified 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 advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating teachers might be a bit more subjective than other standards, and perhaps the best method is to pay a visit to the school and speak with the teachers in person. You can also speak with a few of the students completing the training and ask 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 driving 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 operating a truck. Even though the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are essential training tools, they are no replacement for real driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. Although driving time differs between schools, a good benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide at least 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Kodiak AK schools you are considering and ask how much driving time they furnish.

Are they Captive or Independent ? You can get free or discounted training from certain truck driver schools if you make a commitment to drive for a specific carrier for a defined amount of time. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of maintaining affiliations with a wide range of 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 surrendering the freedom to initially work wherever you choose. Naturally contract training has the potential to limit your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the ideal way to obtain affordable training. Just be sure to ask if the Kodiak AK schools you are looking at are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.

Is there Onsite CDL Testing? There are a number of states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its students. If onsite testing is allowed in Alaska, find out if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than competing with graduates of other schools for test times at Alaska testing centers. It is also an indication that the DMV considers the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.

Are the Classes Convenient? As formerly noted, CDL training is just one to two months in length. With such a short term, it's essential that the Kodiak AK 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 certain driving maneuver, then the teacher should be prepared to dedicate more time with you until you are proficient. And if you're still working while going to training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other commitments.

Is Job Assistance Provided? Once you have received your CDL license after graduating from trucking school, you will be eager to begin your new profession. Verify that the schools you are looking at have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking companies their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a low job placement rate or not many Kodiak AK employers recruiting their graduates, it might be a sign to look elsewhere.

Is Financial Aid Provided? Truck driving schools are comparable to colleges and other Kodiak AK area trade or technical 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 understand the options and forms that need to be submitted.

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