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How to Assess a Trucking School
As soon as you have determined which CDL you wish to obtain, you can start the process of evaluating the Phenix City AL trucking schools that you are looking at. As already discussed, cost and location will undoubtedly be your primary concerns. But it can't be emphasized enough that they should not be your only concerns. Other variables, including the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly or even more important. So following are some more things that you should research while performing your due diligence prior to enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few trucking schools in the Phenix City AL area are accredited because of the rigorous process and expense to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more commonplace and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are several advantages. Prospective students know that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will get lots of driving time. For example, PTDI mandates 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 curriculum and training will fulfill the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One indicator to help determine the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively reviewed or a fly by night school normally will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the top Phenix City AL schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also learn what the school's track record is pertaining to successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won't share those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should also maintain associations with local and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only points to a quality reputation within the profession, but also bolsters their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to contact the Alabama licensing department to make sure that the CDL trucker schools you are reviewing are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in Alabama and hire instructors that are trained and experienced. We will talk more about the instructors in the next segment. Also, the student to instructor ratio should be no higher than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, then students will not be receiving the individual attention they will need. This is particularly true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And watch out for any school that insists 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 professionally requires time. The majority of Phenix City AL schools offer training courses that run from 3 weeks to as long as two months, depending on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Instructors? As previously mentioned, it's important that the instructors are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although several states have minimum driving time requirements to qualify as a teacher, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also crucial that the instructors keep up to date with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing instructors may be a bit more intuitive than other criteria, and perhaps the best approach is to pay a visit to the school and talk to the instructors in person. You can also speak with some 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.
Adequate Driving Time? Above all else, 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 real time spent behind the wheel driving a truck. Even though the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are necessary training methods, they are no substitute for real driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. And even though driving time varies between schools, a reasonable standard is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide at least 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Phenix City AL schools you are researching and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can obtain discounted or even free training from certain trucking schools if you make a commitment to drive for a specified carrier for a defined period of time. This is what's known 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 tradeoff is receiving free or less expensive training by surrendering the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Clearly contract training has the potential to restrict your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the ideal way to obtain affordable training. Just be sure to find out if the Phenix City AL schools you are contemplating are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there CDL Testing Onsite? There are several states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its students. If onsite testing is available in Alabama, find out if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to offer it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than battling with graduates from competing schools for test times at Alabama testing facilities. It is moreover an indication that the DMV deems the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Accessible? As earlier mentioned, truck driver training is just one to two months in length. With such a short term, it's imperative that the Phenix City AL school you choose offers flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. As an example, if you're having a hard time learning a particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be willing to devote more time with you until you are proficient. And if you're still employed while going to training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Placement Provided? The moment you have obtained your CDL license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be keen to begin your new profession. Verify that the schools you are looking at have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking companies their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a low job placement rate or not many Phenix City AL employers recruiting their grads, it may be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Given? Trucking schools are much like colleges and other Phenix City AL area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. Find out if the schools you are evaluating have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you get through the options and forms that must be completed.