How to Pick the Right Truck Driver Classes near Cullman Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a truck driving school near Cullman AL. Maybe it has always been your fantasy to hit the open road while driving a huge tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have conducted some research and have found that an occupation as a truck driver provides excellent wages and flexible job prospects. Whatever your reason is, it's imperative to obtain the appropriate training by enrolling in 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 ultimate selection. Location will undoubtedly be important, especially if you need to commute from your Cullman home. The cost will also be of importance, but choosing a school based entirely on price is not the optimal method to guarantee you'll get the proper training. Just remember, your objective is to learn the skills and knowledge that will enable you to pass the CDL exams and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that purpose in mind, just how do you choose a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to discuss in the rest of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which commercial driver's license you will ultimately need.
Which CDL Should You Get?
In order to drive commercial vehicles legally within Cullman AL and throughout the USA, an operator needs to attain 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 subject of this article is how to select a truck driving school, we will highlight Class A and Class B licenses. What differentiates 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 of the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is needed to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of more 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 Commercial Drivers License is required to operate single vehicles having a GVWR of greater than 26,000 lbs., or a GCWR of more 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 drive specific types of vehicles, such as school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper needed endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to drive.
How to Assess a Truck Driver School
Once you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you wish to obtain, you can start the undertaking of researching the Cullman AL trucking schools that you are looking at. As earlier discussed, location and cost will certainly be your primary considerations. But it can't be stressed enough that they should not be your sole concerns. Other variables, such as the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally or even more important. So following are a few more things that you should research while conducting your due diligence prior to selecting, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many truck driving schools in the Cullman AL area are accredited because of the demanding process and expense to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more typical and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are several advantages. Interested students know that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will get plenty of driving time. For example, PTDI calls for 44 hours of actual 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 benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One indicator 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 stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the best of Cullman AL schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifications. You can also ask what the school's history is regarding successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won't provide those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should also maintain relationships with local and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only affirms a superior reputation within the industry, but also boosts their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn't hurt to check with the Alabama licensing authority to confirm that the CDL trucker schools you are researching are in good standing.
How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in Alabama and hire instructors that are experienced and trained. We will discuss more about the instructors in the following segment. Also, the student to instructor ratio should not be greater than 4 to 1. If it's any higher, then students will not be obtaining the personalized attention they will need. This is especially true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And look out for any school that claims it can train you to drive trucks in a comparatively short time period. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. The majority of Cullman AL schools offer training courses that run from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Trainers? As previously stated, it's important that the teachers are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though several states have minimum driving time prerequisites to qualify as an instructor, the more successful 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. Assessing instructors might be a little more subjective than other criteria, and perhaps the best method is to pay a visit to the school and talk to the instructors face to face. You can also talk to 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.
How Much Driving Time? Most importantly, a good truck driver school will provide sufficient driving time to its students. Besides, isn't that what it's all about? Driving time is the actual time spent behind the wheel operating 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 instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. And even though driving time varies between schools, a good benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Cullman AL schools you are considering and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It's possible to obtain discounted or even free training from some trucking 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 associations with many different trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only refer to one company. The benefit is receiving free or less expensive training by giving up the flexibility to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Clearly contract training has the potential to reduce your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the ideal way to get affordable training. Just be sure to ask if the Cullman AL schools you are contemplating are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer CDL Testing Onsite? There are some states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is permitted in Alabama, ask if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to offer it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than contending with graduates of competing schools for test times at Alabama testing locations. It is moreover an indication that the DMV believes the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Accessible? As previously mentioned, truck driver training is only about 1 to 2 months in length. With such a short term, it's essential that the Cullman 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 teacher should be prepared to devote more time with you until you are proficient. And if you're still working while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Assistance Provided? Once you have obtained your commercial driver's license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be impatient to start your new profession. Verify that the schools you are contemplating have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking companies their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a low job placement rate or few Cullman AL employers hiring their grads, it may be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Given? Truck driving schools are comparable to colleges and other Cullman AL area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being available. Ask 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.
Enroll in the Right Cullman CDL Training
Picking the appropriate truck driving school is a critical first step to launching your new profession 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 critical if you are going to succeed as an operator. But first and foremost, you must receive the appropriate training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are lacking funds or financing, you may want to think about 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 trucker school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choice, or one of many affiliated with the school. It's your decision. But regardless of how you receive your training, you will soon be joining a profession that helps America move as a professional trucker in Cullman Alabama.