How to Select a CDL Driving School Thomasville Alabama
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a trucking school near Thomasville AL. Maybe it has always been your fantasy to hit the open road while driving a huge tractor trailer. Or maybe you have conducted some research and have discovered that a career as a truck driver offers excellent income and flexible work opportunities. No matter what your reason is, it’s essential to obtain the appropriate training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are various variables that you’ll want to examine before making your ultimate choice. Location will undoubtedly be an issue, particularly if you need to commute from your Thomasville home. The cost will also be important, but selecting a school based entirely on price is not the best method to guarantee you’ll receive the proper education. Don’t forget, your goal 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 purpose in mind, just how do you decide on a truck driving school? That is what we are going to cover in the rest of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which CDL license you will eventually need.
Which CDL Should You Get?
To drive commercial vehicles legally within the USA and Thomasville AL, a driver must attain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 license classes that a driver can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the subject 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 type of vehicle that the driver can operate together with the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Following are brief descriptions for the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is needed to operate 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 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 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. Some 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 drive specific types of vehicles, for instance school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper needed endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to drive.
How to Evaluate a Trucking School
When you have determined which CDL you want to pursue, you can begin the process of evaluating the Thomasville AL truck driving schools that you are looking at. As previously mentioned, cost and location will no doubt be your initial concerns. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they must not be your sole concerns. Other factors, for example the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally if not more important. So below are several more factors that you should research while conducting your due diligence before enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few truck driver schools in the Thomasville AL area are accredited because of the rigorous process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more prevalent and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are a number of advantages. Prospective students recognize that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will get lots of driving time. For example, PTDI calls for 44 hours of real driving time, not simulations or ride-alongs. So if a school’s course is certified (the course, not the school is certified), students know that the curriculum and training will measure up to 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 rated or a fly by night school usually will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the top Thomasville AL schools had to start from their first day of training, so use it as one of several qualifications. You can also learn what the school’s history is concerning successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won’t supply those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should also have relationships 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 department to verify that the CDL trucking schools you are researching are in compliance.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Alabama and employ instructors that are trained and experienced. We will cover more about the teachers in the next section. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should be no greater 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 train you to drive trucks in a relatively short time frame. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. Most Thomasville AL schools offer training programs that run from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Teachers? As previously stated, it’s imperative that the instructors are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although a number of states have minimum driving time criteria to be certified as an instructor, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also vital that the teachers keep up to date with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating instructors might be a little more intuitive than other criteria, and perhaps the ideal approach is to check out the school and speak with the teachers in person. You can also speak with a few of the students completing the training and find out if they are satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
Sufficient Driving Time? Above all else, an excellent truck driver school will furnish lots of 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. Even though the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are essential 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 become. Although driving time differs among 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. Contact the Thomasville AL schools you are looking at and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can receive free or discounted training from some truck driver schools if you make a commitment to drive for a specified carrier for a defined period of time. This is called contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So instead of having relationships with a wide range of trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only work with one company. The tradeoff is receiving free or less expensive training by surrendering the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you choose. 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 remember to inquire if the Thomasville AL schools you are considering are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide CDL Testing Onsite? There are a number of states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its grads. If onsite testing is permitted in Alabama, ask if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to offer it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than battling with graduates from competing schools for test times at Alabama testing facilities. It is also an indicator that the DMV deems the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Accessible? As formerly mentioned, truck driver training is just one to two months long. With such a brief duration, it’s important that the Thomasville AL school you select provides flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. For example, if you’re having difficulty learning a particular driving maneuver, then the teacher should be willing to spend more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you’re still employed while going to training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Placement Provided? Once you have attained your commercial driver’s license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be impatient to begin your new profession. Verify that the schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement rate is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking companies their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a low job placement rate or not many Thomasville AL employers recruiting their grads, it may be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? Trucking schools are similar to colleges and other Thomasville AL area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. Find out if the schools you are examining have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you get through the options and forms that need to be completed.
Attending Truck Driving School near Thomasville AL?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Thomasville Alabama area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Thomasville is a city in Clarke County, Alabama, United States. At the 2010 census the population was 4,209. Founded as a late 19th-century railroad town, it has transitioned over the course of more than a century into a 21st-century commercial hub. It is the childhood hometown of author and storyteller Kathryn Tucker Windham.
Thomasville was founded in 1888 and incorporated on November 24 of that year. The former community of Choctaw Corner, dating back to the antebellum period, was a settlement west of what would become Thomasville, but when the merchants there learned that a railroad was going to bypass their town to the east, they decided to move their stores to be near the railroad. The former community is now inside the city limits. The tracks between Mobile and Selma were completed the same year that Thomasville began. First referred to as "Choctaw", the town was named after railroad financier and former Union Civil War general, Samuel Thomas, after he donated $500 for the construction of Thomasville's first school. The town had expanded by the end of the 19th century with numerous stores, several hotels and boarding houses, and a depot station. In 1899, what is now downtown was destroyed by a fire that burned several blocks of the wood frame buildings. Thomasville quickly rebuilt, this time in brick, and was once again flourishing by the start of World War I.
Over the next century, Thomasville continued to grow and expand. Over the years, many businesses came and others left. These included garment factories, sawmills, and cotton gins. The railroad discontinued its use of the town's depot by the 1950s, but that time also saw the opening of Thomasville's FPS-35 radar base, part of the Air Defense Command's Semi Automatic Ground Environment (SAGE) system, bringing in servicemen and their families. The prototype for the FPS-35 radar was developed at the Thomasville Aircraft Control and Warning Station. The 1950s also saw the planting of roses along Highway 43, the main highway through Thomasville, earning it the nickname of The City of Roses. The 1960s and 1970s saw the opening of numerous paper mills in the area, an industry that continues to be important to the economy of Thomasville today. This time also saw businesses begin to relocate from downtown to the main highway. The Thomasville Historic District was designated in 1999 by the National Register of Historic Places.
Pick the Right Trucking School Thomasville AL
Choosing the ideal truck driver school is a critical first step to starting your new profession as a long distance or local truck driver. The skills that you will learn at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are several options offered and understanding them is vital if you are going to succeed as an operator. Most importantly, you must get the appropriate training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are short on cash or financing, you might need to consider a captive school. You will pay a lower or in some cases no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can choose an independent school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choice, or one of several associated with the school. It’s your choice. But no matter how you get your training, you will soon be part of an industry that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Thomasville AL.
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