How to Find the Right CDL Driving Classes near Daleville Alabama
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a CDL school near Daleville AL. Perhaps it has always been your dream to hit the open highway while operating a big ole tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have done some research and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver offers excellent income and flexible work opportunities. Regardless of what your reason is, it's essential to obtain the proper training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are certain factors that you'll need to consider before making your ultimate choice. Location will certainly be an issue, especially if you have to commute from your Daleville home. The expense will also be important, but choosing a school based solely on price is not the optimal means to guarantee you'll get the right education. Just remember, your goal is to learn the knowledge and skills that will allow you to pass the CDL examinations and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that target in mind, just how do you decide on a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to cover in the balance of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which commercial driver's license you will ultimately need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Should You Get?
In order to operate commercial vehicles legally within Daleville AL and throughout the United States, a driver must get a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The 3 license classes that one can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the topic of this article is how to choose a truck driver school, we will discuss Class A and 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 short summaries of the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is needed to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of more 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 CDL is required to drive single vehicles having a GVWR of more than 26,000 lbs., or a GCWR of greater 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 might also require endorsements to drive certain types of vehicles, for example passenger or school 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 Research a Trucking School
When you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you would like to pursue, you can start the process of researching the Daleville AL truck driver schools that you are looking at. As previously discussed, location and cost will certainly be your initial considerations. But it can't be stressed enough that they should not be your sole considerations. Other issues, including the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally if not more important. So following are some more factors that you need to research while performing your due diligence before selecting, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few trucking schools in the Daleville AL area are accredited because of the stringent 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 required to become certified, but there are a number of advantages. Interested students recognize that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will receive lots of driving time. For example, PTDI requires 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 curriculum and training will measure up to the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One indicator to help measure the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in business. A negatively rated or a fly by night school normally will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the top Daleville AL schools had to start from their first day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also learn what the school's history is relating to successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won't share those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain relationships with local and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only affirms a quality reputation within the industry, but also bolsters their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to contact the Alabama licensing authority to confirm that the CDL trucker schools you are considering are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Alabama and hire instructors that are trained and experienced. We will cover more about the instructors in the next section. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it's any higher, then students will not be getting the individual attention they will need. This is particularly true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And look out for any school that insists it can teach you to be a truck driver in a relatively short time frame. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. The majority of Daleville AL schools offer training courses that run from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Trainers? As previously mentioned, it's imperative that the teachers are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although several states have minimum driving time prerequisites to qualify as a teacher, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also important that the teachers keep current with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating instructors might be a little more intuitive than other standards, and perhaps the best approach is to visit the school and talk to the teachers in person. You can also speak with a few of the students completing the training and ask if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher's qualification to train them.
How Much Driving Time? Most importantly, a good truck driving 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. Even though the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are necessary training methods, they are no substitute 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 reasonable standard is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Daleville AL schools you are looking at and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It's possible to obtain discounted or even free training from some truck driver schools if you make a commitment to be a driver for a particular carrier for a defined period of time. This is what's known as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So rather than maintaining associations with a wide range of trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only refer to one company. The benefit is receiving free or less expensive training by surrendering the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Clearly contract training has the potential to reduce your income prospects when starting out. But for many it may be the best way to obtain affordable training. Just make sure to ask if the Daleville AL schools you are considering are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer Onsite CDL Testing? There are a number of states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its grads. If onsite testing is permitted in Alabama, ask if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than battling with graduates of competing schools for test times at Alabama testing facilities. It is also an indication that the DMV regards the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Accessible? As earlier noted, truck driving training is just one to two months long. With such a brief term, it's important that the Daleville AL school you enroll in offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. For example, if you're having a hard time learning a particular driving maneuver, then the teacher should be willing to dedicate more time with you until you are proficient. And if you're still working while going to training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Placement Provided? Once you have obtained your CDL license after graduating from trucking school, you will be impatient to begin your new profession. Verify that the schools you are contemplating have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking firms their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a low job placement rate or not many Daleville AL employers recruiting their graduates, it might be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Truck driving schools are similar to colleges and other Daleville AL area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being available. Find out if the schools you are assessing have a financial assistance department, or at least someone who can help you get through the options and forms that must be completed.
Enroll in the Right Daleville CDL Training
Choosing the appropriate trucking school is an essential first step to beginning your new profession as a local or long distance truck driver. The skills taught 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 operate a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are short on money or financing, you may need to look into 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 trucking school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choosing, or one of many associated with the school. It's your choice. But no matter how you receive your training, you will soon be entering an industry that helps America move as a professional trucker in Daleville Alabama.