How to Enroll in the Best Trucker Classes near Attalla Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a truck driving school near Attalla AL. Maybe it has always been your fantasy to hit the open road while operating a huge tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have conducted some analysis and have discovered that a career as a truck driver provides excellent income and flexible job opportunities. No matter what your reason is, it's imperative to obtain the appropriate training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are a number of factors that you'll need to think about before making your ultimate selection. Location will undoubtedly be important, particularly if you have to commute from your Attalla home. The expense will also be important, but choosing a school based solely on price is not the ideal method to guarantee you'll get the appropriate education. Don't forget, your objective is to master the skills and knowledge that will enable you to pass the CDL exams and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that goal in mind, just how do you decide on a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to address 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 CDL Will You Require?
In order to operate commercial vehicles lawfully within Attalla AL and throughout the USA, a driver must get a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The 3 license classes that a person can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the subject of this article is how to choose a truck driver school, we will focus on Class A and Class B licenses. What distinguishes each class of CDL is the type 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 of the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License 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 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 needed 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 operators may be qualified to drive 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 need endorsements to operate certain types of vehicles, for example school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate required endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to drive.
How to Assess a Trucking School
When you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you wish to obtain, you can begin the undertaking of assessing the Attalla AL truck driving schools that you are considering. As earlier discussed, location and cost will certainly be your primary concerns. But it can't be stressed enough that they should not be your sole concerns. Other variables, such as the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally or even more important. So below are a few more factors that you need to research while performing your due diligence prior to choosing, and especially 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 expense to the schools. However, certification is more prevalent and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Prospective students know that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will receive plenty of driving time. For 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 curriculum and training will fulfill the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help evaluate the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly ranked or a fly by night school typically will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the top Attalla AL schools had to begin from their first day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also find out what the school's history is relating to successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won't share those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should also maintain associations with local and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only affirms a quality reputation within the industry, but also boosts their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn't hurt to check with the Alabama licensing authority to confirm that the CDL trucker schools you are reviewing are in compliance.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Alabama and hire instructors that are trained and experienced. We will discuss more about the instructors in the next segment. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, then students will not be getting the individual instruction 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 claims it can teach you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short time period. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. Most Attalla AL schools provide training programs that range from three weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Trainers? As previously stated, it's essential that the teachers are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although several states have minimum driving time criteria to qualify as an instructor, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It's also vital that the teachers stay current with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating teachers might be a little more intuitive than other criteria, and possibly the ideal method is to pay a visit to the school and speak with the teachers in person. You can also talk to some of the students completing the training and ask if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.
Adequate Driving Time? Above all else, a great truck driver 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 driving a truck. While the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are essential training methods, they are no alternative for actual driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will become. And even though driving time varies among schools, a good standard is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Attalla AL schools you are looking at and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It's possible to get free or discounted training from a number of truck driver schools if you make a commitment to drive for a particular carrier for a defined amount of time. This is called contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So instead of maintaining relationships with many different trucking lines that they can refer their students to, 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 choose. Obviously contract training has the potential to reduce your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the best way to obtain affordable training. Just be sure to ask if the Attalla AL schools you are considering are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide CDL Testing Onsite? There are some states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its grads. If onsite testing is allowed in Alabama, find out if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than contending with graduates from other schools for test times at Alabama testing centers. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV considers the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Accessible? As earlier mentioned, truck driving training is only about one to two months in length. With such a short term, it's imperative that the Attalla 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 willing to spend more time with you until you are proficient. And if you're still holding a job while going to training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Assistance Offered? As soon as you have acquired your commercial driver's license after graduating from trucking school, you will be keen to begin your new career. Make sure that the schools you are contemplating have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement rate is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking firms their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a lower job placement rate or few Attalla AL employers recruiting their graduates, it might be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Given? Trucking schools are much like colleges and other Attalla 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 examining have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that must be completed.
Enroll in the Best Attalla Truck Driver Training
Selecting the ideal truck driver school is a critical first step to beginning your new occupation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skill sets taught at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are several options available and understanding them is critical to a new driver's success. But first and foremost, you must receive the necessary training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are lacking money or financing, you might need 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 choose an independent trucking school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choosing, or one of several affiliated with the school. It's your decision. But regardless of how you obtain your training, you will soon be part of an industry that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Attalla Alabama.