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How to Select the Best Truck Driver Classes near Anniston Alabama

Anniston Alabama tractor trailer hauling cargoCongratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a trucking school near Anniston AL. Perhaps it has always been your fantasy to hit the open road while operating a monster tractor trailer. Or maybe you have done some analysis and have discovered that a career as a truck driver provides excellent wages and flexible work prospects. No matter what your reason is, it's essential to get the proper training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are several factors that you'll need to consider before making your final choice. Location will undoubtedly be important, particularly if you need to commute from your Anniston home. The expense will also be of importance, but choosing a school based entirely on price is not the ideal method to make certain you'll obtain the right education. Don't forget, your goal is to learn the knowledge and skills that will allow you to pass the CDL examinations and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that goal in mind, just how do you choose a truck driving school? That is what we are going to address in the remainder 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 Need?

Anniston Alabama tractor trailer traveling down highway

In order to operate commercial vehicles lawfully within Anniston AL and throughout the USA, an operator must obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The three classes of licenses 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 descriptions for the two 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 greater than 10,000 lbs. A few of the vehicles that drivers may be able to operate 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 CDL is required to drive single vehicles having a GVWR of greater than 26,000 lbs., or a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs. including a towed vehicle weighing up to 10,000 lbs. Several 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 may also need endorsements to drive certain kinds of vehicles, such as school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate needed endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to operate.

How to Assess a CDL School

Anniston Alabama concrete truck with flag paint job

Once you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you want to obtain, you can start the undertaking of researching the Anniston AL trucking schools that you are considering. As earlier discussed, location and cost will certainly be your initial considerations. But it can't be stressed enough that they should not be your sole concerns. Other factors, for instance the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly or even more important. So following are several additional points that you should research while conducting your due diligence before selecting, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.

Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many truck driving schools in the Anniston AL area are accredited due to the stringent process and expense to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more commonplace and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are a number of advantages. Potential students recognize that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will be given plenty of driving time. As an example, PTDI mandates 44 hours of real driving time, not ride-alongs or simulations. So if a school's course is certified (the course, not the school is certified), students know that the training and curriculum will measure up to 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 business. A poorly 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 best of Anniston AL schools had to start from their first day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also ask what the school's history is regarding successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won't supply those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should also have relationships with local and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only affirms a superior reputation within the industry, but also bolsters their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn't hurt to get in touch with the Alabama licensing department to confirm that the CDL trucking schools you are considering are in good standing.

How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Alabama and employ instructors that are experienced and trained. 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 personal attention they will need. This is especially true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And be critical of any school that insists it can teach you to drive trucks in a comparatively short time frame. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. The majority of Anniston AL schools offer training programs that run from three weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the license class or type of vehicle.

How Good are the Teachers? As previously mentioned, it's imperative that the instructors are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although a number of states have minimum driving time requirements to be certified as a teacher, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It's also vital that the instructors stay current with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating instructors may be a bit more subjective than other criteria, and possibly the ideal 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 completing the training and ask if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.

Sufficient Driving Time? Most importantly, a great trucking school will provide ample 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 operating a truck. Although the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are important training methods, they are no alternative for real driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. And even though driving time fluctuates among schools, a reasonable standard is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish no less than 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Anniston AL schools you are looking at and find out how much driving time they furnish.

Are they Captive or Independent ? You can obtain free or discounted training from certain trucking schools if you make a commitment to be a driver for a specified carrier for a defined amount of time. This is what's known as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of having 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 less expensive or even free training by giving up the freedom to initially work wherever you choose. Naturally contract training has the potential to limit your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the best way to receive affordable training. Just be sure to inquire if the Anniston AL schools you are contemplating are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.

Provide Onsite CDL Testing? There are a number of states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its students. If onsite testing is allowed in Alabama, find out if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than battling with graduates from other schools for test times at Alabama testing centers. It is also an indicator that the DMV believes the approved schools to be of a superior quality.

Are the Classes Accessible? As previously noted, truck driving training is only about 1 to 2 months long. With such a short term, it's essential that the Anniston AL school you choose provides flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. As an example, if you're having difficulty learning a certain driving maneuver, then the instructor should be prepared to dedicate 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 fit in working hours or other commitments.

Is Job Assistance Provided? Once you have received your CDL license after graduating from trucking school, you will be eager to begin your new career. Verify that the schools you are considering have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking firms their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a poor job placement rate or few Anniston AL employers hiring their graduates, it might be a sign to look elsewhere.

Is Financial Assistance Provided? Trucking schools are comparable to colleges and other Anniston AL area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Ask if the schools you are assessing have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that need to be completed.

Learn More About Anniston Trucker Classes

Choose the Best Anniston CDL Training

Choosing the ideal truck driver school is an important first step to beginning your new vocation 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 many options available and understanding them is critical if you are going to succeed as an operator. But first and foremost, you must receive the necessary training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are lacking cash or financing, you might need to think about a captive school. You will pay a reduced or even no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can select an independent trucking school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choosing, or one of many associated with the school. It's your decision. But regardless of how you receive your training, you will in the near future be entering a profession that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Anniston Alabama.

 

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