How to Enroll in the Best Truck Driver Classes near Auburn Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a CDL school near Auburn AL. Maybe it has always been your dream to hit the open highway while operating a huge tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have done some research and have found that a career as a truck driver offers good income and flexible work prospects. No matter what your reason is, it's imperative to receive the proper training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are various factors that you'll want to examine before making your ultimate choice. Location will undoubtedly be important, especially if you have to commute from your Auburn home. The cost will also be important, but picking a school based entirely on price is not the best method to guarantee you'll receive the right training. Don't forget, your objective is to master the skills and knowledge that will enable you to pass the CDL examinations and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that objective in mind, just how do you decide on a truck driving school? That 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 CDL Should You Get?
To drive commercial vehicles lawfully within Auburn AL and throughout the USA, an operator must attain 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 discuss 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). Following are short descriptions for the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL 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. Several 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 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 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 Commercial Drivers Licenses may also require endorsements to drive specific types of vehicles, for instance passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate required endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to operate.
How to Evaluate a CDL School
As soon as you have determined which CDL you would like to pursue, you can begin the process of assessing the Auburn AL truck driving schools that you are looking at. As earlier mentioned, cost and location will undoubtedly be your initial concerns. But it can't be stressed enough that they must not be your only considerations. Other factors, such as the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly if not more important. So following are several additional factors that you need to research while conducting your due diligence before choosing, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few truck driving schools in the Auburn AL area are accredited because of the rigorous process and cost to the schools. However, 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. Interested students recognize that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will receive an ample amount of driving time. For example, PTDI mandates 44 hours of real driving time, not ride-alongs or simulations. 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 clue to help assess the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively ranked or a fly by night school usually will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the best of Auburn AL schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so consider 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 graduating students. If a school won't supply those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain associations with regional and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only confirms a superior reputation within the trade, but also bolsters their job assistance 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 researching 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 talk more about the instructors in the following section. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should be no higher than 4 to 1. If it's any higher, then students will not be getting the personal attention 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 train you to drive trucks in a relatively short time frame. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. The majority of Auburn AL schools offer training courses that run 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 already mentioned, it's essential that the teachers are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though several states have minimum driving time prerequisites to qualify as an instructor, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It's also crucial that the instructors stay up to date with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing teachers might be a little more subjective than other criteria, and perhaps the ideal method is to visit the school and speak with the teachers face to face. You can also speak with some of the students completing the training and ask if they are satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.
Adequate Driving Time? Most importantly, an excellent trucking school will provide lots of 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 ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are necessary training methods, they are no replacement for actual driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. And even though driving time varies among schools, a good standard is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide no less than 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Auburn AL schools you are looking at and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can obtain discounted or even free training from some trucking schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a specified carrier for a defined period 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 have an opportunity. Naturally contract training has the potential to reduce your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the only way to get affordable training. Just remember to find out if the Auburn AL schools you are looking at are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there CDL Testing Onsite? There are several states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is allowed in Alabama, ask if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more convenient than competing with graduates of other schools for test times at Alabama testing locations. It is moreover an indication that the DMV deems the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Convenient? As formerly noted, truck driving training is just 1 to 2 months in length. With such a brief duration, it's imperative that the Auburn AL school you choose provides flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. As an example, if you're having a hard time learning a certain driving maneuver, then the teacher should be willing to dedicate more time with you until you are proficient. And if you're still employed while going to training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Assistance Offered? The moment you have obtained your CDL license after graduating from trucking school, you will be impatient to begin your new career. Confirm that the schools you are looking at have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking companies their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a lower job placement rate or not many Auburn AL employers hiring their grads, it may be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Truck driving schools are comparable to colleges and other Auburn AL area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being available. 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 must be submitted.
Enroll in the Best Auburn CDL Training
Choosing the right truck driving school is an essential first step to launching your new vocation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skills taught at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options offered and understanding them is vital to a new driver's success. But first and foremost, you must obtain the appropriate training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are short on cash or financing, you may want 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 enroll in an independent truck driver 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 choice. But no matter how you get your training, you will soon be entering an industry that helps America move as a professional trucker in Auburn Alabama.