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How to Assess a Truck Driving School
After you have decided which CDL you wish to pursue, you can start the undertaking of assessing the Meadow Lakes AK truck driver schools that you are considering. As earlier mentioned, location and cost will no doubt be your primary considerations. But it can't be stressed enough that they should not be your sole considerations. Other factors, for example the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly if not more important. So below are some additional factors that you should research while performing your due diligence before selecting, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many trucking schools in the Meadow Lakes AK area are accredited because of the demanding process and expense to the schools. However, certification is more typical and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are a number of advantages. Potential students know that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will be given an ample amount of driving time. For example, PTDI mandates 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 fulfill the very high benchmarks 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 operation. A poorly ranked or a fly by night school usually will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the best of Meadow Lakes AK schools had to begin from their first day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also ask what the school's history is pertaining to successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won't share those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally have relationships with local and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only confirms an excellent reputation within the trade, but also bolsters their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to check with the Alaska licensing department to confirm that the CDL trucker schools you are considering are in compliance.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in Alaska and hire teachers that are experienced and trained. We will discuss more about the teachers in the next section. Also, the student to instructor ratio should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, then students will not be receiving the individual attention 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 claims it can teach you to be a truck driver in a relatively short period of time. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. Most Meadow Lakes AK schools provide training programs that range from three weeks to as long as two months, based on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Instructors? As previously mentioned, it's imperative that the teachers are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although several 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 vital that the teachers stay up to date with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing instructors might be a little more subjective than other standards, and possibly the ideal method is to visit the school and speak with the teachers in person. You can also talk to some of the students completing the training and ask if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher's qualification to train them.
Sufficient Driving Time? Above all else, a good truck driving school will provide plenty 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 operating a truck. While the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are important training methods, they are no substitute for actual driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will become. And even though driving time varies among schools, a reasonable benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Meadow Lakes AK schools you are researching and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can get discounted or even free training from a number of truck driving schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a specific carrier for a defined period of time. This is called contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So rather than having 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 free or less expensive training by giving up the freedom to initially work wherever you choose. Clearly contract training has the potential to reduce your income prospects when starting out. But for many it may be the only way to obtain affordable training. Just be sure to ask if the Meadow Lakes AK schools you are looking at are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there CDL Testing Onsite? There are several states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its students. If onsite testing is available in Alaska, find out if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to offer it. One benefit is that it is more convenient than battling with graduates of other schools for test times at Alaska testing locations. It is moreover an indication that the DMV deems the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Accessible? As formerly noted, truck driving training is just 1 to 2 months long. With such a brief duration, it's important that the Meadow Lakes AK school you choose 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 commit more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you're still holding a job while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Placement Provided? As soon as you have received your CDL license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be keen to start your new profession. Make sure that the schools you are reviewing have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking companies their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a lower job placement rate or not many Meadow Lakes AK employers hiring their grads, it might be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Truck driving schools are much like colleges and other Meadow Lakes AK area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Find out 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 completed.