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How to Find the Best Trucker Classes near Arab Alabama

Arab Alabama truck carrying cargoCongratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a CDL school near Arab AL. Maybe it has always been your goal to hit the open road while operating a monster tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have done some research and have discovered that a career as a truck driver offers good wages and flexible job opportunities. Regardless of what your reason is, it's important to obtain the proper training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are a number of variables that you'll need to examine prior to making your final choice. Location will no doubt be important, especially if you have to commute from your Arab home. The expense will also be of importance, but selecting a school based solely on price is not the optimal method to ensure you'll obtain the proper training. Don't forget, your objective is to learn the skills and knowledge that will allow you to pass the CDL examinations and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that objective in mind, just how do you select a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to cover in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which CDL license you will ultimately need.

Which Commercial Drivers License Should You Get?

Arab Alabama tractor trailer traveling down highway

To operate commercial vehicles lawfully within Arab AL and throughout the USA, an operator must attain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The three classes of licenses that a person can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the topic of this article is how to pick a truck driving school, we will discuss Class A and Class B licenses. What distinguishes each class of CDL is the type of vehicle that the driver can operate together with the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Following are brief summaries of the 2 classes.

Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is required to drive 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 Commercial Drivers License is required to drive single vehicles having a GVWR of greater 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 require endorsements to drive specific kinds of vehicles, for instance passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper required endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to drive.

How to Assess a Truck Driving School

Arab Alabama cement truck with flag paint job

When you have determined which CDL you want to pursue, you can begin the undertaking of researching the Arab AL truck driving schools that you are considering. As already discussed, location and cost will certainly be your initial concerns. But it can't be emphasized enough that they should not be your only considerations. Other issues, such as the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly if not more important. So following are a few more points that you need to research while performing your due diligence prior to selecting, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.

Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many truck driving schools in the Arab AL area are accredited due to the rigorous process and expense to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more common 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 receive lots of driving time. For example, PTDI requires 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 Business? One indicator to help assess the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in business. A poorly reviewed or a fly by night school usually will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the best of Arab AL schools had to begin from their first day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also ask what the school's track record is concerning successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won't share those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain relationships with local and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only confirms a superior reputation within the trade, but also bolsters their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn't hurt to get in touch with the Alabama licensing authority to verify that the CDL trucking schools you are researching are in compliance.

How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Alabama and employ instructors that are trained and experienced. We will discuss more about the instructors in the following segment. Also, the student to instructor proportion should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, then students will not be obtaining the individual attention 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 claims it can teach you to be a truck driver in a relatively short period of time. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. The majority of Arab AL schools offer training programs that range from 3 weeks to as long as two months, based on the class of license or kind of vehicle.

How Good are the Trainers? As previously mentioned, it's important that the instructors are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time criteria to be certified as an instructor, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It's also vital that the teachers stay current with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating teachers may be a little more intuitive than other standards, and possibly the best approach is to pay a visit to the school and speak with the teachers in person. You can also talk to some of the students going through 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, a great trucking school will provide plenty of driving time to its students. Besides, 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 important training methods, they are no alternative for real driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. Although driving time fluctuates among schools, a good standard 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 Arab AL schools you are looking at and ask how much driving time they furnish.

Are they Independent or Captive ? You can obtain discounted or even free training from a number of truck driving schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a specified carrier for a defined amount of time. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So instead of maintaining associations with a wide range of trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only refer to one company. The tradeoff is receiving less expensive or even free training by surrendering the flexibility to initially work wherever you choose. Obviously contract training has the potential to limit your income prospects when starting out. But for many it may be the only way to obtain affordable training. Just be sure to inquire 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 some states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its students. If onsite testing is permitted in Alabama, ask if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than contending with graduates from other schools for test times at Alabama testing facilities. It is moreover an indication that the DMV believes the approved schools to be of a higher quality.

Are the Classes Convenient? As formerly mentioned, CDL training is just one to two months long. With such a short term, it's important that the Arab AL school you enroll in provides flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. As an example, if you're having difficulty learning a certain driving maneuver, then the instructor should be willing to commit more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you're still holding a job while attending training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other responsibilities.

Is Job Placement Offered? As soon as you have attained your commercial driver's license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be keen to start 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 national and local trucking firms their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a poor job placement rate or not many Arab AL employers recruiting their grads, it might be a sign to look elsewhere.

Is Financial Aid Provided? Truck driver schools are comparable to colleges and other Arab AL area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. Ask 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 completed.

Find Out More About Arab CDL Schools

Choose the Best Arab Truck Driver Training

Selecting the right truck driving school is an essential first step to launching your new profession as a long distance or local truck driver. The skill sets that you will learn at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options offered and understanding them is crucial if you are going to succeed as an operator. However, you must obtain the necessary training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are short on funds or financing, you may need to consider a captive school. You will pay a reduced or in some cases no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can select an independent trucker school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking company of your choice, or one of several associated with the school. It's your decision. But regardless of how you get your training, you will in the near future be part of an industry that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Arab Alabama.

 

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