How to Decide on the Right CDL Driving Classes near Daleville Alabama
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a trucking school near Daleville AL. Maybe it has always been your dream to hit the open highway while driving a huge tractor trailer. Or possibly you have conducted some analysis and have found that a career as a truck driver provides excellent pay and flexible work prospects. Regardless of what your reason is, it's essential to get the proper training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are a number of factors that you'll need to examine before making your final selection. Location will no doubt be an issue, particularly if you have to commute from your Daleville residence. The cost will also be important, but selecting a school based exclusively on price is not the best way to make certain you'll obtain the appropriate training. Just remember, your objective is to learn the knowledge and skills that will enable you to pass the CDL examinations and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that objective in mind, just how do you pick a truck driving school? That is what we are going to address in the balance of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which CDL license you will ultimately need.
Which CDL Will You Require?
To drive commercial vehicles lawfully within Daleville AL and throughout the USA, a driver must get a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The 3 license classes that a driver can apply 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 highlight Class A and Class B licenses. What differentiates each class of CDL is the kind of vehicle that the driver can operate in addition to the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Following are brief summaries of the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is required to operate any vehicle that has a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of more than 10,000 lbs. A few 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 needed to operate 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 drivers may be qualified to operate 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 certain types of vehicles, for example school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper needed endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to operate.
How to Assess a Truck Driver School
As soon as you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you would like to obtain, you can begin the process of assessing the Daleville AL truck driving schools that you are considering. As already mentioned, location and cost will no doubt be your initial considerations. But it can't be stressed enough that they should not be your sole concerns. Other issues, for instance the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly if not more important. So below are some more points that you need to research while carrying out your due diligence prior to 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 due to the stringent process and cost to the schools. However, certification is more common and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are several advantages. Potential students recognize that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will be given an ample amount of driving time. As an 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 training and curriculum will measure up to the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One indicator to help assess the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in business. A poorly ranked 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 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 concerning successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won't share those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should also have associations with regional and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only confirms a quality reputation within the trade, but also boosts their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to get in touch with the Alabama licensing department to make sure that the CDL trucker schools you are considering are in compliance.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in Alabama and employ teachers that are trained and experienced. We will discuss more about the teachers in the following section. Also, the student to instructor proportion should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, then students will not be getting the individual attention they will need. This is especially true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And watch out for any school that professes it can teach you to drive trucks in a relatively short time period. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. The majority of Daleville AL schools provide 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 Instructors? As previously stated, it's essential that the instructors are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though several states have minimum driving time requirements to be certified as a teacher, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also important that the instructors keep up to date with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing instructors may be a bit more intuitive than other standards, and possibly the best approach is to pay a visit to the school and talk to the instructors in person. You can also speak with a few of the students going through the training and find out if they are happy with the quality of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.
Adequate Driving Time? Above all else, a good trucking school will provide plenty of driving time to its students. Besides, isn't that what it's all about? Driving time is the real time spent behind the wheel operating a truck. While the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are important training tools, they are no substitute for real driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. Although driving time differs 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. Get in touch with the Daleville AL schools you are considering and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can obtain free or discounted training from a number of truck driving schools if you make a commitment to be a driver for a specified carrier for a defined time period. 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 less expensive or even free training by giving up the flexibility to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Naturally contract training has the potential to reduce your income opportunities when starting out. But for some it may be the only way to get affordable training. Just be sure to ask if the Daleville AL schools you are considering are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide CDL Testing Onsite? There are several states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its students. If onsite testing is allowed in Alabama, find out if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than battling with graduates from other schools for test times at Alabama testing locations. It is also an indication that the DMV views the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Convenient? As formerly noted, CDL training is just 1 to 2 months in length. With such a short term, it's important that the Daleville AL school you choose 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 teacher should be prepared to dedicate more time with you until you have it mastered. 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 obligations.
Is Job Assistance Provided? The moment you have received your commercial driver's license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be eager to start your new profession. Make sure that the schools you are contemplating have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement rate is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking companies their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a lower job placement rate or few Daleville AL employers recruiting their grads, it might be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Available? Truck driver schools are much like colleges and other Daleville AL area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. Ask if the schools you are evaluating have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you understand the options and forms that must be submitted.
Choose the Best Daleville CDL Training
Choosing the right truck driver school is an important first step to launching your new vocation 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 crucial if you are going to succeed as an operator. However, you must obtain the proper training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are short on money or financing, you may need to think about a captive school. You will pay a lower or even no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can select an independent trucker school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking company of your choice, or one of many associated with the school. It's your choice. 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 trucker in Daleville Alabama.