How to Find the Best CDL Training Classes near Attalla Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a truck driving school near Attalla AL. Maybe it has always been your dream to hit the open highway while driving a monster tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have conducted some analysis and have found that an occupation as a truck driver offers excellent wages and flexible job opportunities. Regardless of what your reason is, it's essential to receive the proper training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are a number of factors that you'll want to think about prior to making your ultimate choice. Location will no doubt be an issue, especially if you need to commute from your Attalla residence. The cost will also be important, but picking a school based entirely on price is not the best method to make certain you'll obtain the proper education. Don't forget, your objective is to learn the knowledge and skills that will enable you to pass the CDL examinations and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that purpose in mind, just how do you pick a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to address in the balance of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which commercial driver's license you will ultimately need.
Which CDL Will You Require?
To operate commercial vehicles lawfully within Attalla AL and throughout the USA, a driver needs to get a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The three classes of licenses that a driver can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the topic of this article is how to select a truck driving school, we will highlight Class A and 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). Below are short explanations of the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is needed to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of greater than 10,000 lbs. Some 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 operate 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. 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 Commercial Drivers Licenses might also need endorsements to drive specific 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 license holder is authorized to operate.
How to Evaluate a Trucking School
When you have decided which CDL you wish to obtain, you can start the undertaking of researching the Attalla AL truck driver schools that you are looking at. As already mentioned, cost and location will no doubt be your initial concerns. But it can't be stressed enough that they must not be your only considerations. Other variables, such as the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly or even more important. So following are several additional points that you need to research while carrying out your due diligence prior to enrolling in, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few truck driver schools in the Attalla AL area are accredited due to the demanding process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more common and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are a number of advantages. Prospective students recognize that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will get plenty of driving time. As an example, PTDI mandates 44 hours of actual 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 fulfill 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 poorly ranked 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 Attalla AL schools had to start from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifiers. You can also learn what the school's track record is regarding successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won't share those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally have associations with local and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only points to a quality reputation within the industry, but also bolsters their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn't hurt to check with the Alabama licensing department to confirm that the CDL trucking schools you are reviewing are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in Alabama and employ instructors that are experienced and trained. We will cover more about the teachers in the next segment. Also, the student to instructor proportion 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 particularly true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And watch out for any school that claims it can train you to drive trucks in a relatively short time period. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. Most Attalla AL schools provide training courses that range from three weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Trainers? As already stated, it's important that the teachers are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although a number of states have minimum driving time prerequisites to be certified as an instructor, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It's also important that the teachers stay up to date with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing instructors may be a little more subjective than other criteria, and perhaps the ideal method is to pay a visit to the school and speak with the instructors face to face. You can also talk to some of the students going through the training and ask if they are happy with the quality of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.
Plenty of Driving Time? Most importantly, a good truck driver school will furnish sufficient driving time to its students. Besides, isn't that what it's all about? Driving time is the actual time spent behind the wheel driving a truck. Although the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are essential training tools, they are no replacement 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 can vary among schools, a good benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide at least 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Attalla AL schools you are researching and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can get discounted or even free training from certain truck driving schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a specific carrier for a defined time period. This is what's known as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So rather than having relationships with many different trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only refer to one company. The tradeoff is receiving free or less expensive training by surrendering the freedom to initially work wherever you choose. Naturally contract training has the potential to limit your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the best way to get affordable training. Just be sure to ask if the Attalla AL schools you are looking at are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer CDL Testing Onsite? There are some states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its grads. If onsite testing is permitted in Alabama, find out if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than competing with graduates of other schools for test times at Alabama testing locations. It is also an indication that the DMV considers the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Convenient? As earlier mentioned, truck driving training is only about one to two months long. With such a short term, it's imperative that the Attalla AL school you choose offers flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. As an example, if you're having difficulty learning a particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be willing to spend more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you're still employed while attending training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Placement Provided? As soon as you have acquired your CDL license after graduating from trucking school, you will be impatient to start your new career. Verify that the schools you are contemplating have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking companies their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a low job placement rate or not many Attalla AL employers hiring their grads, it might be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Given? Truck driving schools are comparable to colleges and other Attalla AL area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Find out if the schools you are evaluating have a financial assistance department, or at least someone who can help you get through the options and forms that must be completed.
Choose the Best Attalla CDL Training
Choosing the right trucking school is an essential first step to launching your new occupation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skill sets taught at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are several options offered and understanding them is crucial if you are going to succeed as an operator. However, you must receive the proper training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are lacking cash or financing, you might want to consider a captive school. You will pay a lower or in some cases no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can choose an independent truck driving school and have the option of driving for the trucking firm of your choice, or one of many associated with the school. It's your decision. But regardless of how you get your training, you will soon be entering an industry that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Attalla Alabama.