How to Select the Right Trucking Classes near Arab Alabama
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a trucking school near Arab AL. Perhaps it has always been your dream to hit the open road while driving a huge tractor trailer. Or maybe you have done some analysis and have found that an occupation as a truck driver offers good pay and flexible work prospects. Whatever your reason is, it's imperative to obtain the proper training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are several factors that you'll need to consider before making your final selection. Location will no doubt be an issue, particularly if you need to commute from your Arab residence. The expense will also be of importance, but selecting a school based only on price is not the optimal method to guarantee you'll get the right training. Just remember, your goal is to learn the skills and knowledge that will allow you to pass the CDL exams and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that purpose in mind, just how do you decide on a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to cover in the balance of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which CDL license you will ultimately need.
Which CDL Will You Require?
In order to operate commercial vehicles legally within Arab AL and throughout the USA, an operator needs to attain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The three license classes that one can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the subject of this article is how to pick a truck driving school, we will highlight Class A and B licenses. What differentiates each class of CDL is the kind of vehicle that the driver can operate in addition to the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Below are short descriptions for the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is needed to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of greater than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of more than 10,000 lbs. A few 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 CDL is required to drive single vehicles having a GVWR of more than 26,000 lbs., or a GCWR of greater 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 Commercial Drivers Licenses might also need endorsements to drive certain kinds of vehicles, such as school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate required endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to drive.
How to Assess a Truck Driving School
After you have determined which CDL you want to pursue, you can start the undertaking of assessing the Arab AL truck driver schools that you are considering. As earlier mentioned, cost and location will certainly be your primary considerations. But it can't be stressed enough that they should not be your only considerations. Other issues, for instance the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally or even more important. So below are a few additional points that you should research while carrying out your due diligence prior to enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many truck driving schools in the Arab AL area are accredited due to the demanding 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 required to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Interested students know that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will be given plenty of driving time. For example, PTDI calls for 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 curriculum and training will measure up to the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One indicator to help measure the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively ranked or a fly by night school normally will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the top Arab AL schools had to start from their opening day of training, so use it as one of several qualifications. You can also find out what the school's track record is regarding successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won't provide those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should also maintain relationships with regional and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only affirms a superior reputation within the industry, but also bolsters their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to get in touch with the Alabama licensing authority to make sure that the CDL trucker schools you are considering are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Alabama and employ teachers that are trained and experienced. We will talk more about the teachers in the next section. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should be no higher than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, then students will not be getting the personalized instruction they will need. This is especially true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And look out for any school that insists it can teach you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short period of time. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. The majority of Arab AL schools offer training courses that run from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Instructors? As earlier stated, it's imperative that the instructors are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. 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 important that the teachers stay current with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing instructors might be a bit more intuitive than other criteria, and possibly the ideal method is to visit the school and talk to the instructors in person. You can also speak with 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? Above all else, an excellent truck driving school will furnish plenty 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. While the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are necessary training tools, they are no alternative for real driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will become. Although driving time can vary between schools, a good standard 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 Arab AL schools you are considering and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can get free or discounted training from some truck driver schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a specific carrier for a defined time period. This is what's known as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So instead of maintaining associations with many different trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only work with one company. The tradeoff is receiving free or less expensive training by surrendering the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Obviously contract training has the potential to reduce your income prospects when starting out. But for many it may be the best way to receive affordable training. Just be sure to find out if the Arab AL schools you are considering are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there CDL Testing Onsite? There are a number of states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of trucking 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 advantage is that it is more convenient than battling with graduates of other schools for test times at Alabama testing centers. It is also an indication that the DMV considers the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Flexible? As previously noted, truck driver training is only about 1 to 2 months long. With such a brief duration, it's essential that the Arab AL school you select offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. For example, if you're having a hard time learning a certain driving maneuver, then the instructor should be prepared to spend 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 obligations.
Is Job Assistance Provided? The moment you have attained your CDL license after graduating from trucking school, you will be impatient to begin your new career. Confirm that the schools you are contemplating have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement rate is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking companies their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a low job placement rate or few Arab AL employers recruiting their graduates, it may be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Given? Trucking schools are much like colleges and other Arab AL area technical or vocational 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 a minimum someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that need to be completed.
Enroll in the Right Arab CDL Training
Picking the appropriate trucking school is an essential first step to starting your new vocation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skills that you will learn at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are several options offered and understanding them is crucial to a new driver's success. But first and foremost, you must get the proper training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are short on funds or financing, you might want to look into a captive school. You will pay a reduced or even no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can select an independent CDL school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking company of your choosing, or one of several associated with the school. It's your choice. But no matter how you obtain your training, you will soon be joining a profession that helps America move as a professional trucker in Arab Alabama.