How to Choose the Best CDL Training School near Boaz Alabama
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a trucking school near Boaz AL. Maybe it has always been your dream to hit the open road while driving a huge tractor trailer. Or maybe you have conducted some research and have found that an occupation as a truck driver provides excellent wages and flexible work opportunities. No matter what your reason is, it's essential to obtain the appropriate training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are certain variables that you'll need to think about prior to making your final selection. Location will certainly be an issue, particularly if you need to commute from your Boaz residence. The expense will also be important, but choosing a school based solely on price is not the optimal way to ensure you'll receive the appropriate training. Don't forget, your objective is to learn the skills and knowledge that will allow you to pass the CDL examinations and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that goal 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 review a little bit about which CDL license you will ultimately need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Should You Get?
To drive commercial vehicles legally within Boaz AL and throughout the USA, an operator needs to get a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The 3 classes of licenses that one can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the topic of this article is how to choose a truck driving school, we will focus on 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). 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 greater 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 Commercial Drivers License is required to drive single vehicles having a GVWR of more than 26,000 lbs., or a GCWR of more 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 CDLs may also need endorsements to operate specific kinds of vehicles, including passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper needed endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to operate.
How to Assess a Truck Driver School
After you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you would like to obtain, you can begin the process of assessing the Boaz AL truck driver schools that you are looking at. As earlier discussed, cost and location will undoubtedly be your primary considerations. But it can't be stressed enough that they must not be your sole concerns. Other factors, including the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly or even more important. So following are a few additional points that you need to research while carrying out your due diligence before enrolling in, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many truck driver schools in the Boaz AL area are accredited due to the rigorous process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more common and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are several advantages. Potential students recognize that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will be given plenty 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 meet the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help evaluate the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in business. A poorly ranked or a fly by night school normally will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the best of Boaz AL schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so use it as one of several qualifications. You can also learn what the school's history is relating to successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won't share those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should also maintain associations with regional and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only affirms an excellent reputation within the trade, but also bolsters their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to check with the Alabama licensing authority to make sure that the CDL trucking schools you are considering are in good standing.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Alabama and employ teachers that are trained and experienced. We will cover more about the teachers in the following segment. 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 obtaining the personal instruction they will need. This is especially true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And be critical of any school that claims it can teach you to drive trucks in a comparatively short time frame. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. Most Boaz AL schools provide training programs that run from three weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Instructors? As previously mentioned, it's imperative that the instructors are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although several states have minimum driving time requirements to be certified as a teacher, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also crucial that the teachers stay up to date with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating teachers might be a little more subjective than other criteria, 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 going through the training and find out if they are happy with the quality of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.
How Much Driving Time? Most importantly, a great trucking school will provide plenty of 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 simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are essential training tools, they are no alternative for actual driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. Although driving time can vary among schools, a reasonable benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide at least 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Boaz AL schools you are considering and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It's possible to get discounted or even free training from some truck driving schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a specific carrier for a defined amount of time. This is called contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So instead of having associations with many different trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only work with one company. The tradeoff is receiving less expensive or even free training by giving up the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. 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 receive affordable training. Just be sure to ask if the Boaz AL schools you are contemplating are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide Onsite CDL Testing? There are a number of states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is available in Alabama, ask if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than competing with graduates from other schools for test times at Alabama testing facilities. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV deems the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Convenient? As formerly mentioned, CDL training is only about one to two months in length. With such a short duration, it's important that the Boaz AL school you select 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 instructor should be prepared to commit more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you're still working while attending training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Placement Provided? Once you have acquired your commercial driver's license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be anxious to start your new career. Confirm that the schools you are looking at have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement rate is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking companies their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a poor job placement rate or not many Boaz AL employers recruiting their graduates, it may be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Trucking schools are similar to colleges and other Boaz 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 reviewing have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you understand the options and forms that need to be completed.
Choose the Right Boaz Truck Driver Training
Choosing the appropriate truck driver school is an important first step to starting your new profession as a long distance or local truck driver. The skill sets that you will learn at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options offered and understanding them is crucial to a new driver's success. However, you must receive the necessary training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are short on cash or financing, you might want to look into a captive school. You will pay a lower or even no tuition by agreeing to drive 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 several associated with the school. It's your choice. But no matter how you receive your training, you will soon be joining an industry that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Boaz Alabama.