How to Select the Right Trucker Classes near Boaz Alabama
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a trucking school near Boaz AL. Perhaps it has always been your ambition to hit the open highway while operating a monster tractor trailer. Or maybe you have conducted some research and have found that an occupation as a truck driver provides good wages and flexible work prospects. No matter what your reason is, it's important to get the proper training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are certain factors that you'll want to consider prior to making your final choice. Location will undoubtedly be important, particularly if you need to commute from your Boaz home. The expense will also be of importance, but selecting a school based entirely on price is not the optimal way to make certain you'll obtain the right 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 professional truck driver. So keeping that target in mind, just how do you pick a truck driving school? That is what we are going to address in the rest of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which commercial driver's license you will ultimately need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Should You Get?
In order to drive commercial vehicles legally within Boaz AL and throughout the USA, an operator must attain 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 topic of this article is how to pick a truck driver school, we will address 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). Following are short descriptions of 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. 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 CDL is needed 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, including school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate required endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to drive.
How to Assess a CDL School
After you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you would like to pursue, you can begin the process of assessing the Boaz AL trucking schools that you are looking at. As previously mentioned, cost and location will certainly be your initial considerations. But it can't be emphasized enough that they should not be your only concerns. Other factors, including the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally if not more important. So below are a few more factors that you should 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 trucking schools in the Boaz AL area are accredited due to the stringent 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 required to become certified, but there are several advantages. Potential students know that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will get lots of driving time. As an example, PTDI calls for 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 meet the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One indicator to help assess the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in business. A negatively reviewed or a fly by night school typically will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the best of Boaz AL schools had to begin from their first day of training, so use it as one of several qualifiers. You can also ask what the school's track record is pertaining to successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won't provide those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should also have relationships with regional and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only points to a quality reputation within the profession, but also boosts their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to contact the Alabama licensing department to confirm that the CDL trucking schools you are considering are in compliance.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Alabama and employ teachers that are trained and experienced. We will cover more about the instructors in the next section. Also, the student to instructor ratio should not be greater than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, then students will not be getting the personal attention they will need. This is particularly true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And look out for any school that insists it can train you to be a truck driver in a relatively short time frame. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. The majority of Boaz AL schools offer training courses that range from 3 weeks to as long as two months, depending on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Instructors? As earlier mentioned, it's important that the teachers are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time criteria to qualify as a teacher, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It's also important that the instructors stay up to date with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing instructors might be a little more subjective than other standards, and possibly the best method is to visit the school and talk to the instructors face to face. You can also speak with some of the students completing the training and find out if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.
Adequate Driving Time? Above all else, a good truck driving school will furnish sufficient 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. Even though the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are necessary training methods, they are no replacement for real driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. Although driving time can vary among schools, a good benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide at least 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Boaz AL schools you are looking at and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It's possible to receive free or discounted training from a number of truck driving schools if you make a commitment to drive for a particular carrier for a defined period of time. This is referred to as 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 benefit is receiving free or less expensive training by surrendering the freedom to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Naturally contract training has the potential to restrict your income prospects when starting out. But for many it may be the only way to get affordable training. Just make sure to find out if the Boaz 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 some states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its students. If onsite testing is permitted in Alabama, ask if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than contending with graduates from competing schools for test times at Alabama testing facilities. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV regards the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Flexible? As previously mentioned, CDL training is only about one to two months in length. With such a short duration, it's imperative that the Boaz 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 particular driving maneuver, then the teacher should be prepared to dedicate 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 responsibilities.
Is Job Assistance Offered? Once you have attained your CDL license after graduating from trucking school, you will be impatient to begin your new career. Make sure that the schools you are considering have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking firms their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a lower job placement rate or few Boaz AL employers recruiting their graduates, it may be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Available? Truck driving schools are comparable to colleges and other Boaz AL area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have a financial assistance department, or at least someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that must be completed.
Enroll in the Best Boaz Truck Driver Training
Picking the right truck driving school is an important first step to starting your new occupation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skills taught at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are several options available and understanding them is vital to a new driver's success. But first and foremost, you must obtain the proper training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are short on funds or financing, you might want to think about a captive school. You will pay a lower or even no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can choose an independent CDL school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking firm of your choice, or one of many affiliated with the school. It's your choice. But regardless of how you obtain your training, you will soon be entering an industry that helps America move as a professional trucker in Boaz Alabama.