How to Pick the Best Truck Driver School near Albertville Alabama
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a CDL school near Albertville AL. Perhaps it has always been your ambition to hit the open road while operating a huge tractor trailer. Or maybe you have conducted some research and have discovered that a career as a truck driver offers good pay and flexible work prospects. Regardless of what your reason is, it's important to receive the appropriate training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are several variables that you'll want to think about before making your final choice. Location will certainly be important, particularly if you have to commute from your Albertville residence. The expense will also be important, but selecting a school based only on price is not the optimal means to ensure you'll obtain the right training. Don't forget, your objective is to learn the knowledge and skills that will allow you to pass the CDL examinations and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that target in mind, just how do you select a truck driving school? That is what we are going to address in the rest of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which CDL license you will eventually need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Require?
To drive commercial vehicles legally within Albertville AL and throughout the United States, a driver needs to attain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The 3 license classes that a person can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the subject of this article is how to select a truck driving school, we will discuss Class A and B licenses. What differentiates each class of CDL is the kind of vehicle that the driver can operate as well as the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Below are short explanations for the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is required to operate any vehicle that has a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of more than 10,000 lbs. Several of the vehicles that operators may be able to drive with Class A licenses are:
- Interstate or Intrastate Tractor Trailers
- Trucks with Double or Triple Trailers
- Tanker Trucks
- Livestock Carriers
- Class B and Class C Vehicles
Class B CDL. A Class B Commercial Drivers License is required to drive single vehicles having a GVWR of more than 26,000 lbs., or a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs. including a towed vehicle weighing up to 10,000 lbs. A few of the vehicles that drivers may be qualified to operate with Class B licenses are:
- Tractor Trailers
- Dump Trucks
- Cement Mixers
- Large Buses
- Class C Vehicles
Both Class A and Class B CDLs might also require endorsements to operate certain kinds of vehicles, for instance school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate required endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to operate.
How to Research a Truck Driving School
As soon as you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you want to obtain, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating the Albertville AL truck driving schools that you are looking at. As previously discussed, location and cost will certainly be your primary considerations. But it can't be emphasized enough that they should not be your only concerns. Other issues, including the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally or even more important. So below are a few more points that you need to research while carrying out your due diligence before choosing, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many truck driving schools in the Albertville AL area are accredited due to the demanding process and expense to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more typical and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are several advantages. Potential students recognize that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will be given plenty 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 training and curriculum will satisfy the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One indicator to help assess the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in business. A poorly ranked or a fly by night school normally will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the top Albertville AL schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so use it as one of several qualifications. You can also learn what the school's history is relating to successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won't supply those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain relationships with regional and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only affirms an excellent reputation within the profession, but also boosts their job placement program for students. It also wouldn't hurt to contact the Alabama licensing authority to confirm that the CDL trucking schools you are considering are in good standing.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Alabama and employ teachers that are trained and experienced. We will cover more about the instructors in the next 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 personalized attention 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 insists it can teach you to drive trucks in a relatively short time frame. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. The majority of Albertville AL schools provide training courses that run from three weeks to as long as two months, depending on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Instructors? As previously mentioned, it's essential that the teachers are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time requirements to qualify as a teacher, the more professional driving experience an instructor 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. Evaluating instructors may be a little more subjective than other standards, and perhaps the best approach is to check out the school and talk to the teachers in person. You can also talk to a few of the students completing the training and find out if they are happy with the quality of instruction and the teacher's qualification to train them.
Enough 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 real time spent behind the wheel driving a truck. Even though the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are essential training tools, they are no replacement for actual driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. Although driving time can vary among schools, a good standard is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Albertville AL schools you are considering and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It's possible to obtain discounted or even free training from a number of trucking schools if you make a commitment to drive for a specified carrier for a defined amount of time. This is what's known as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So instead of having affiliations with many different trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only work with one company. The benefit is receiving less expensive or even free training by surrendering the flexibility to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Naturally contract training has the potential to restrict your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the only way to receive affordable training. Just make sure to ask if the Albertville AL schools you are considering are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there Onsite CDL Testing? There are a number of states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its grads. If onsite testing is allowed in Alabama, find out if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to offer it. One benefit is that it is more convenient than competing with graduates from competing schools for test times at Alabama testing centers. It is also an indicator that the DMV regards the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Accessible? As earlier mentioned, CDL training is only about one to two months long. With such a short duration, it's essential that the Albertville AL school you enroll in 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 teacher should be prepared to devote more time with you until you are proficient. And if you're still employed while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Placement Offered? Once you have obtained your commercial driver's license after graduating from trucking school, you will be keen to start your new profession. Verify that the schools you are considering have job assistance 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 hiring. If a school has a low job placement rate or few Albertville AL employers recruiting their graduates, it may be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Truck driving schools are similar to colleges and other Albertville AL area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being available. Ask if the schools you are assessing have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that need to be submitted.
Choose the Right Albertville CDL Training
Selecting the ideal trucking school is an important first step to starting your new profession as a local or long distance truck driver. The skills that you will learn at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options available and understanding them is vital if you are going to succeed as an operator. But first and foremost, you must get the proper training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are short on money or financing, you may need to look into a captive school. You will pay a lower or even no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can choose an independent trucking school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking firm of your choosing, or one of many affiliated with the school. It's your decision. But no matter how you receive your training, you will in the near future be joining an industry that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Albertville Alabama.