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How to Research a CDL School
Once you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you wish to obtain, you can begin the process of assessing the Sterling AK truck driving schools that you are looking at. As already discussed, location and cost will certainly be your primary considerations. But it can't be emphasized enough that they must not be your sole concerns. Other variables, such as the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly if not more important. So following are several additional points that you should research while performing your due diligence prior to choosing, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few truck driver schools in the Sterling AK area are accredited due to the demanding process and cost to the schools. However, certification is more common and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are a number of advantages. Interested students know that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will be given plenty of driving time. As an example, PTDI calls for 44 hours of real 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 meet the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One indicator to help determine the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in business. A negatively reviewed or a fly by night school typically will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the top Sterling AK schools had to begin from their first day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also find out what the school's track record is concerning successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won't provide those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain associations with local and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only points to a quality reputation within the industry, but also bolsters their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn't hurt to check with the Alaska licensing authority to confirm that the CDL trucking schools you are considering are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Alaska and employ teachers that are experienced and trained. We will cover more about the instructors in the following segment. In addition, 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 particularly true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And be critical of 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 requires time. The majority of Sterling AK schools offer training programs that range from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Trainers? As previously mentioned, it's imperative that the teachers are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time criteria to qualify as a teacher, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It's also crucial that the teachers keep current with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating teachers might be a bit more subjective than other standards, and perhaps the ideal approach is to pay a visit to the school and speak with the teachers face to face. You can also speak with some of the students going through the training and ask if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher's qualification to train them.
Adequate Driving Time? Most importantly, an excellent truck driver school will furnish sufficient driving time to its students. Besides, isn't that what it's all about? Driving time is the actual 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 real driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. Although driving time differs among schools, a good benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Sterling AK schools you are considering and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It's possible to obtain free or discounted training from certain trucking schools if you make a commitment to drive for a particular carrier for a defined amount of time. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So rather than maintaining relationships with a wide range of trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only refer to one company. The benefit is receiving free or less expensive training by surrendering the flexibility to initially work wherever you choose. Obviously contract training has the potential to reduce 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 Sterling AK schools you are looking at are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer CDL Testing Onsite? There are some states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its students. If onsite testing is permitted in Alaska, find out if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than battling with graduates from competing schools for test times at Alaska testing facilities. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV considers the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Convenient? As formerly noted, CDL training is just one to two months in length. With such a short term, it's important that the Sterling AK school you choose offers flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. For example, if you're having difficulty learning a certain driving maneuver, then the instructor should be willing to spend more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you're still working while going to training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Placement Offered? Once you have obtained your CDL license after graduating from trucking school, you will be keen to start your new career. Verify that the schools you are looking at have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement rate is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking companies their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a low job placement rate or few Sterling AK employers hiring their graduates, it might be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Given? Truck driver schools are comparable to colleges and other Sterling 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 assessing have a financial assistance department, or at least someone who can help you get through the options and forms that must be completed.