How to Choose a Truck Driver School Grand Bay Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a CDL school near Grand Bay AL. Perhaps it has always been your goal to hit the open highway while driving a big ole tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have done some analysis and have found that a career as a truck driver offers excellent wages and flexible job opportunities. Regardless of what your reason is, it’s important to obtain the proper training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are various factors that you’ll need to examine prior to making your final selection. Location will undoubtedly be important, especially if you need to commute from your Grand Bay residence. The expense will also be important, but selecting a school based solely on price is not the best means to make sure you’ll receive the proper training. Just remember, your objective is to master the knowledge and skills that will enable you to pass the CDL exams 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 discuss in the balance of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which commercial driver’s license you will eventually need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Require?
To drive commercial vehicles legally within the USA and Grand Bay AL, a driver needs to obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 classes of licenses that a driver can apply 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 highlight Class A and Class 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). Below are brief summaries for the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is required to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of more 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 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. 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 Commercial Drivers Licenses might also require endorsements to operate certain types of vehicles, including school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper needed endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to drive.
How to Evaluate a CDL School
After you have determined which CDL you wish to pursue, you can begin the undertaking of assessing the Grand Bay AL truck driving schools that you are looking at. As previously mentioned, cost and location will certainly be your primary concerns. But it can’t be stressed enough that they must not be your only concerns. Other issues, such as the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally if not more important. So following are several more points that you need to research while carrying out your due diligence before selecting, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many truck driving schools in the Grand Bay AL area are accredited because of the rigorous process and expense to the schools. However, certification is more typical and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are several advantages. Interested students recognize that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will receive plenty of driving time. As an 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 training and curriculum will satisfy the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help evaluate the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively reviewed or a fly by night school usually will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the top Grand Bay AL schools had to begin from their first day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also find out what the school’s track record is relating to successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won’t share those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should also maintain associations with regional and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only confirms a quality reputation within the trade, but also bolsters their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn’t hurt to check with the Alabama licensing authority to confirm that the CDL trucker schools you are researching are in compliance.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in Alabama and employ teachers that are experienced and trained. We will talk more about the instructors in the following section. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should not be greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be obtaining the personalized instruction they will need. This is particularly true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And be critical of any school that professes it can teach you to be a truck driver in a relatively short period of time. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. Most Grand Bay AL schools provide training courses that range from three weeks to as long as two months, based on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Instructors? As already stated, it’s important that the instructors are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although a number of states have minimum driving time criteria to qualify as an instructor, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also important that the teachers stay current with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing teachers might be a bit more subjective than other standards, and perhaps the ideal approach is to check out the school and talk to the teachers face to face. You can also speak with some of the students completing the training and find out if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
Sufficient Driving Time? Above all else, an excellent truck driving school will provide 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 operating a truck. Although the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are necessary training tools, they are no alternative for real driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. And even though driving time can vary among schools, a good standard is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish no less than 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Grand Bay 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 a number of truck driving schools if you make a commitment to drive for a particular carrier for a defined time period. This is what’s known as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than maintaining affiliations with numerous trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only refer to one company. The tradeoff is receiving less expensive or even free training by giving up the flexibility to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Obviously contract training has the potential to restrict your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the ideal way to obtain affordable training. Just make sure to find out if the Grand Bay 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 permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is available in Alabama, find out if the schools you are considering 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 locations. It is moreover an indication that the DMV considers the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Accessible? As earlier mentioned, truck driving training is only about one to two months long. With such a short duration, it’s important that the Grand Bay AL school you enroll in provides flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. As an example, if you’re having a hard time learning a certain driving maneuver, then the instructor should be willing to commit more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you’re still working while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Placement Provided? Once you have received your CDL license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be eager to start your new career. Verify that the schools you are reviewing have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking firms their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a low job placement rate or not many Grand Bay AL employers hiring their graduates, it might be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Trucking schools are comparable to colleges and other Grand Bay AL area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being available. Ask if the schools you are examining 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.
Attending Truck Driving School near Grand Bay AL?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Grand Bay Alabama area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Grand Bay, Alabama
Grand Bay is located at 30°28′27″N 88°20′31″W / 30.47417°N 88.34194°W / 30.47417; -88.34194 (30.474055, -88.341836), along U.S. Route 90 midway between the Alabama/Mississippi state line and the town of St. Elmo, a few miles inland from the Mississippi Sound.
As of the census of 2000, there were 3,918 people, 1,364 households, and 1,078 families residing in the CDP. The population density was 452.3 people per square mile (174.7/km²). There were 1,441 housing units at an average density of 166.4 per square mile (64.2/km²). The racial makeup of the CDP was 89.00% White, 8.88% Black or African American, 0.23% Native American, 0.79% Asian, 0.05% Pacific Islander, 0.13% from other races, and 0.92% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.87% of the population.
There were 1,364 households out of which 37.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 65.5% were married couples living together, 10.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 20.9% were non-families. 18.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 6.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.81 and the average family size was 3.19.
Pick the Ideal Trucking School Grand Bay AL
Choosing the appropriate truck driving school is a critical first step to beginning your new profession as a long distance or local truck driver. The skill sets taught at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are several options available and understanding them is crucial to a new driver’s success. But first and foremost, you must obtain the proper training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are short on money 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 school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking company of your choosing, or one of many associated with the school. It’s your decision. But regardless of how you receive your training, you will soon be part of an industry that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Grand Bay AL.
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