How to Pick the Right CDL Driving Classes near Boaz Alabama
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a truck driving school near Boaz AL. Maybe it has always been your ambition to hit the open road while operating a big ole tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have conducted some analysis and have discovered that a career as a truck driver provides good income and flexible work opportunities. No matter what your reason is, it's important to receive the proper training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are various variables that you'll need to examine prior to making your ultimate selection. Location will no doubt be important, particularly if you have to commute from your Boaz residence. The cost will also be of importance, but selecting a school based exclusively on price is not the ideal way to make sure you'll obtain the appropriate education. Just remember, 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 decide on a truck driving school? That is what we are going to discuss in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which commercial driver's license you will ultimately need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Need?
To drive commercial vehicles legally within Boaz AL and throughout the USA, a driver must attain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The 3 license classes that one can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the topic of this article is how to select a truck driving school, we will discuss Class A and Class B licenses. What distinguishes 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 explanations for the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is required to operate 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 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 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. Some 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 CDLs may also require endorsements to operate specific types of vehicles, such as school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate required endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to drive.
How to Research a Truck Driver School
After you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you want to pursue, you can start the undertaking of assessing the Boaz AL truck driver schools that you are looking at. As earlier discussed, location and cost will no doubt be your initial considerations. But it can't be emphasized enough that they should not be your sole concerns. Other variables, for example the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally if not more important. So following are some more points that you should research while performing your due diligence prior to choosing, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many trucking schools in the Boaz AL area are accredited because of the stringent 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 required to become certified, but there are several advantages. Prospective students know that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will get lots 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 training and curriculum will satisfy the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One indicator to help measure the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly rated or a fly by night school typically will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the best of Boaz AL schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifications. You can also learn what the school's history is relating to successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won't provide those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain associations with local and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only confirms a superior reputation within the industry, but also boosts their job placement program for students. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to get in touch with the Alabama licensing department to verify that the CDL trucking schools you are researching are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in Alabama and hire instructors that are trained and experienced. We will cover more about the teachers in the next segment. Also, the student to instructor ratio should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, then students will not be obtaining the personalized attention they will need. This is particularly true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And be critical of any school that professes it can teach you to drive trucks in a comparatively short period of time. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. Most Boaz AL schools provide training programs that run from three weeks to as long as two months, depending on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Trainers? As previously stated, it's important that the instructors are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though several states have minimum driving time criteria to be certified as an instructor, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also important that the teachers keep up to date with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing instructors might be a bit more intuitive than other criteria, and perhaps the best method is to pay a visit to the school and speak with the instructors in person. You can also talk to a few of the students going through the training and ask if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher's qualification to train them.
Adequate Driving Time? Most importantly, a good trucking school will furnish ample 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. Although the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are important training tools, they are no replacement for actual driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. Although driving time fluctuates between schools, a reasonable benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish no less than 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Boaz AL schools you are considering and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can obtain discounted or even free training from certain trucking schools if you make a commitment to drive for a particular carrier for a defined period of time. This is what's known as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than having relationships with a wide range of trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only work with one company. The benefit is receiving free or less expensive training by surrendering the flexibility to initially work wherever you choose. Obviously contract training has the potential to limit your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the best way to receive affordable training. Just be sure to inquire if the Boaz AL schools you are contemplating are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there CDL Testing Onsite? There are several states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is allowed in Alabama, ask if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than competing with graduates from competing schools for test times at Alabama testing facilities. It is moreover an indication that the DMV views the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Flexible? As formerly mentioned, truck driving training is only about one to two months long. With such a brief duration, it's important that the Boaz AL school you enroll in provides flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. For example, if you're having difficulty learning a particular driving maneuver, then the teacher should be willing to dedicate more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you're still employed while going to training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Assistance Offered? Once you have attained your commercial driver's license after graduating from trucking school, you will be keen to begin your new career. Confirm that the schools you are looking at have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking firms their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a poor job placement rate or not many Boaz AL employers hiring their graduates, it might be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Given? Trucking schools are similar to colleges and other Boaz AL area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being offered. Ask if the schools you are evaluating have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you get through the options and forms that need to be completed.
Choose the Right Boaz Truck Driver Training
Selecting the right truck driving school is an essential first step to starting your new vocation as a long distance or local 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 critical if you are going to succeed as an operator. However, you must receive the proper training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are lacking funds or financing, you may need to consider a captive school. You will pay a lower or even no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can select an independent trucker school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choice, or one of several affiliated with the school. It's your decision. But no matter how you receive your training, you will soon be joining a profession that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Boaz Alabama.