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How to Research a Trucking School
After you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you wish to obtain, you can begin the process of assessing the Steele Creek AK truck driving schools that you are looking at. As earlier discussed, cost and location will certainly be your initial considerations. But it can't be emphasized enough that they should not be your sole considerations. Other factors, for instance the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally or even more important. So following are some additional factors that you need to research while conducting your due diligence prior to selecting, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many truck driver schools in the Steele Creek AK area are accredited because of the rigorous process and expense to the schools. However, certification is more prevalent and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Interested students recognize that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will receive an ample amount of driving time. For example, PTDI mandates 44 hours of actual driving time, not ride-alongs or simulations. So if a school's program is certified (the program, not the school is certified), students know that the training and curriculum will satisfy the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One clue to help measure the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively rated or a fly by night school normally will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the top Steele Creek AK schools had to start from their opening day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also learn what the school's history is regarding successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won't provide those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should also have relationships with local and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only points to a quality reputation within the trade, but also boosts their job placement program for students. It also wouldn't hurt 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? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Alaska and employ instructors that are trained and experienced. We will cover more about the teachers in the following segment. Also, the student to instructor ratio should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it's any higher, then students will not be receiving the personal instruction they will need. This is especially true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And watch out for any school that professes it can train you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short time period. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. Most Steele Creek AK schools offer training programs that run from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Teachers? As earlier stated, it's imperative 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 a teacher has the better. It's also crucial that the instructors stay current with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing instructors may be a little more intuitive than other standards, and possibly the best approach is to pay a visit to the school and talk to the instructors in person. 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 ability to train them.
Enough Driving Time? Most importantly, an excellent truck driving school will provide ample driving time to its students. Besides, isn't that what it's all about? Driving time is the actual time spent behind the wheel driving a truck. Although the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are important training tools, they are no substitute for actual driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. And even though driving time can vary between schools, a good standard is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Steele Creek AK schools you are looking at and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It's possible to get free or discounted training from some truck driving schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a specific carrier for a defined amount of time. This is called contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of maintaining affiliations with numerous 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 flexibility to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Clearly contract training has the potential to limit your income opportunities when starting out. But for many it may be the best way to get affordable training. Just make sure to find out if the Steele Creek AK schools you are contemplating are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer Onsite CDL Testing? There are some states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its students. If onsite testing is available in Alaska, ask if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than competing with graduates of other schools for test times at Alaska testing centers. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV deems the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Convenient? As earlier mentioned, CDL training is just one to two months long. With such a brief term, it's imperative that the Steele Creek AK school you enroll in 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 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 acquired your commercial driver's license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be anxious to begin your new career. Verify that the schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking firms their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a low job placement rate or few Steele Creek AK employers hiring their grads, it might be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Given? Truck driving schools are comparable to colleges and other Steele Creek AK area vocational or trade 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 a minimum someone who can help you understand the options and forms that must be submitted.