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How to Assess a Truck Driver School
Once you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you would like to obtain, you can start the process of assessing the Daphne AL truck driving schools that you are looking at. As previously mentioned, location and cost will undoubtedly be your initial concerns. But it can't be emphasized enough that they should not be your sole concerns. Other issues, for instance the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly or even more important. So below are a few more points that you need to research while conducting your due diligence before selecting, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many trucking schools in the Daphne AL area are accredited because of the stringent process and cost to the schools. However, 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 certain advantages. Prospective students recognize that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will get lots of driving time. As an example, PTDI calls for 44 hours of real driving time, not simulations or ride-alongs. So if a school's program is certified (the program, not the school is certified), students know that the curriculum and training will comply with the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One indicator to help evaluate the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in business. A negatively ranked 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 Daphne AL schools had to begin from their first day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifiers. You can also find out what the school's track record is concerning successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won't share those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally have relationships with regional and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only affirms an excellent reputation within the trade, but also boosts their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn't hurt to contact the Alabama licensing department to confirm that the CDL trucking schools you are reviewing are in good standing.
How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in Alabama and employ teachers that are experienced and trained. We will discuss more about the instructors in the next segment. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should not be greater than 4 to 1. If it's any higher, then students will not be receiving the personal attention 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 relatively short time frame. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. The majority of Daphne AL schools provide training courses that run from three weeks to as long as two months, based on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Instructors? As previously mentioned, it's essential that the teachers are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although a number of states have minimum driving time criteria to be certified as an instructor, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also important that the instructors keep up to date with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating instructors might be a little more subjective than other criteria, and perhaps the best approach is to check out the school and talk to the instructors in person. You can also speak with a few of the students going through the training and find out if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher's qualification to train them.
How Much Driving Time? Most importantly, an excellent trucking school will provide lots 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 driving a truck. Although the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are important training methods, they are no replacement for actual driving. The more instruction 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 a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Daphne AL schools you are considering and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can receive free or discounted training from certain trucking schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver 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 instead of having relationships with many different trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only refer to one company. The tradeoff is receiving free or less expensive training by giving up the flexibility to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Obviously contract training has the potential to reduce your income opportunities when starting out. But for many it may be the best way to receive affordable training. Just be sure to find out if the Daphne AL schools you are contemplating are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide CDL Testing Onsite? There are a number of states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is available in Alabama, ask if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to offer it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than contending with graduates from other schools for test times at Alabama testing centers. It is also an indicator that the DMV views the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Accessible? As formerly noted, truck driver training is only about one to two months long. With such a short duration, it's imperative that the Daphne AL school you select provides flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. For example, if you're having difficulty learning a particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be willing to dedicate 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 fit in working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Placement Provided? Once you have obtained your commercial driver's license after graduating from trucking school, you will be keen to begin your new career. Make sure that the schools you are contemplating have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement rate is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking firms their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a poor job placement rate or few Daphne AL employers recruiting their graduates, it may be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Trucking schools are comparable to colleges and other Daphne AL area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being available. Find out if the schools you are evaluating have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you understand the options and forms that must be submitted.