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How to Evaluate a Truck Driving School

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Once you have decided which CDL you would like to pursue, you can begin the process of evaluating the Palmer AK 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 stressed enough that they must 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 below are several more things that you should research while carrying out your due diligence before selecting, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.

Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many truck driver schools in the Palmer AK area are accredited because of the demanding process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more prevalent and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are several advantages. Interested students recognize that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will receive an ample amount of driving time. For example, PTDI calls for 44 hours of actual 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 training and curriculum will fulfill the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.

How Long in Operation? One clue to help measure the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in business. A negatively rated or a fly by night school typically will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the best of Palmer AK schools had to begin from their first day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also ask what the school's history is regarding successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won't provide those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain associations with regional and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only points to a superior reputation within the trade, but also boosts their job placement program for students. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to check with the Alaska licensing department to verify that the CDL trucker schools you are researching are in good standing.

How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in Alaska and hire teachers that are trained and experienced. We will talk more about the teachers in the following section. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it's any higher, then students will not be receiving the personalized instruction they will need. This is particularly true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And be critical of any school that claims it can train you to drive trucks in a relatively short time frame. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. Most Palmer AK schools offer training courses that range from 3 weeks to as long as two months, based on the class of license or type of vehicle.

How Good are the Instructors? As previously stated, it's important 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 an instructor, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It's also important that the teachers stay up to date with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing teachers may be a little more intuitive than other criteria, and possibly the ideal approach is to check out the school and speak with the instructors in person. You can also speak with 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.

Sufficient Driving Time? Above all else, a good trucking school will provide lots of 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 simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are essential training tools, they are no substitute for actual driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. And even though driving time can vary among schools, a good standard 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 Palmer AK schools you are looking at and find out how much driving time they provide.

Are they Captive or Independent ? You can receive discounted or even free training from a number of 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 offer it are called captives. So instead of maintaining affiliations with many different trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only refer to one company. The benefit is receiving free or less expensive training by giving up the freedom to initially work wherever you choose. Obviously contract training has the potential to restrict your income prospects when starting out. But for many it may be the ideal way to obtain affordable training. Just be sure to inquire if the Palmer AK schools you are contemplating are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.

Offer CDL Testing Onsite? There are a number of states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is permitted in Alaska, find out if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more convenient than contending with graduates from competing schools for test times at Alaska testing facilities. It is also an indication that the DMV views the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.

Are the Class Times Flexible? As earlier mentioned, truck driving training is just 1 to 2 months in length. With such a short duration, it's essential that the Palmer AK school you select offers flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. For example, if you're having difficulty learning a particular driving maneuver, then the teacher should be prepared to spend more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you're still employed while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other responsibilities.

Is Job Assistance Offered? Once you have attained your commercial driver's license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be impatient to start your new profession. Make sure that the schools you are contemplating have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking firms their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a low job placement rate or few Palmer AK employers hiring their graduates, it may be a clue to look elsewhere.

Is Financial Assistance Provided? Truck driver schools are comparable to colleges and other Palmer AK area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being offered. Ask if the schools you are evaluating have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you understand the options and forms that need to be submitted.

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