How to Choose the Right Trucker Classes near Brook Highland Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a CDL school near Brook Highland AL. Maybe it has always been your fantasy to hit the open highway while driving a huge tractor trailer. Or possibly you have conducted some analysis and have discovered that a career as a truck driver offers good pay and flexible work prospects. Regardless of what your reason is, it's imperative to obtain the proper training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are a number of variables that you'll want to examine before making your ultimate choice. Location will no doubt be an issue, especially if you have to commute from your Brook Highland home. The expense will also be important, but picking a school based only on price is not the optimal means to ensure you'll receive the right education. Just remember, 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 goal 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 discuss a little bit about which CDL license you will eventually need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Require?
To operate commercial vehicles lawfully within Brook Highland AL and throughout the USA, a driver needs to get a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The three license classes that one can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the subject of this article is how to select a truck driving school, we will address Class A and Class B licenses. What differentiates each class of CDL is the kind of vehicle that the driver can operate together with the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Below are short explanations for the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is required to drive 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 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 required to drive 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. 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 specific types of vehicles, including school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate required endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to drive.
How to Assess a Truck Driving School
After you have determined which CDL you would like to pursue, you can start the undertaking of evaluating the Brook Highland AL trucking schools that you are considering. As earlier discussed, location and cost will undoubtedly be your initial considerations. But it can't be stressed enough that they should not be your only considerations. Other issues, including the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly if not more important. So below are some additional things that you need to research while performing your due diligence before choosing, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many trucking schools in the Brook Highland AL area are accredited due to the stringent process and expense to the schools. However, certification is more commonplace 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 caliber, and that they will be given plenty of driving time. For example, PTDI requires 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 comply with the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One clue to help evaluate the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in business. A negatively ranked or a fly by night school typically will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the best of Brook Highland AL schools had to start from their opening day of training, so use it as one of several qualifiers. You can also find out what the school's track record is concerning successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won't provide those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should also have associations with regional and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only affirms an excellent reputation within the industry, but also bolsters their job placement program for students. It also wouldn't hurt to get in touch with the Alabama licensing department to verify that the CDL trucker schools you are considering are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Alabama and hire instructors that are experienced and trained. We will cover more about the instructors in the following section. Also, the student to instructor proportion should be no higher than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, then students will not be receiving the personal attention they will need. This is especially true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And be critical of 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 professionally takes time. Most Brook Highland AL schools offer 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 Instructors? As previously mentioned, it's imperative that the teachers are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time requirements to be certified as an instructor, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It's also vital that the instructors keep current with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating instructors may be a little more subjective than other criteria, and perhaps the ideal method is to check out the school and talk to the teachers face to face. You can also talk to some of the students going through the training and find out if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.
Enough Driving Time? Above all else, a good trucking school will provide ample 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. While the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are necessary training methods, 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. And even though driving time differs between schools, a reasonable benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide no less than 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Brook Highland AL schools you are looking at and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It's possible to receive discounted or even free training from some truck driver schools if you make a commitment to be a driver for a specific carrier for a defined period of time. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of having affiliations with many different trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only refer to one company. The tradeoff is receiving free or less expensive training by surrendering the flexibility to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Clearly contract training has the potential to limit your income prospects when starting out. But for many it may be the only way to obtain affordable training. Just be sure to find out if the Brook Highland AL schools you are contemplating are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there Onsite CDL Testing? There are some states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its grads. If onsite testing is permitted in Alabama, find out if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than competing with graduates from other schools for test times at Alabama testing locations. It is also an indication that the DMV deems the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Accessible? As formerly mentioned, truck driver training is only about one to two months in length. With such a short duration, it's important that the Brook Highland 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 instructor should be prepared to devote more time with you until you are proficient. And if you're still employed while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Assistance Offered? The moment you have received your commercial driver's license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be keen to start your new career. Verify that the schools you are reviewing have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking firms their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a lower job placement rate or not many Brook Highland AL employers hiring their grads, it may be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Truck driving schools are much like colleges and other Brook Highland AL area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being offered. Find out if the schools you are assessing have a financial assistance department, or at least someone who can help you understand the options and forms that need to be submitted.
Choose the Right Brook Highland CDL Training
Choosing the right truck driver school is an essential first step to launching your new vocation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skill sets that you will learn at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options available and understanding them is critical to a new driver's success. But first and foremost, you must get the appropriate training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are lacking money or financing, you might need to look into a captive school. You will pay a lower or in some cases no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can select an independent truck driving school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choosing, or one of several associated with the school. It's your decision. But no matter how you obtain your training, you will in the near future be joining an industry that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Brook Highland Alabama.