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How to Pick the Right CDL Driving Classes near Dixiana Alabama

Dixiana Alabama tractor trailer carrying payloadCongrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a CDL school near Dixiana AL. Maybe it has always been your dream to hit the open road while operating a huge tractor trailer. Or possibly you have conducted some analysis and have found that an occupation as a truck driver provides good income and flexible work opportunities. Regardless of what your reason is, it's essential to obtain the proper training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are a number of variables that you'll need to examine prior to making your ultimate choice. Location will no doubt be an issue, especially if you have to commute from your Dixiana residence. The cost will also be important, but picking a school based solely on price is not the best way to guarantee you'll receive the proper training. Just remember, your goal is to learn the knowledge and skills that will enable you to pass the CDL exams and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that objective in mind, just how do you choose a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to address in the rest of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which CDL license you will ultimately need.

Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Need?

Dixiana Alabama truck driving down highway

To drive commercial vehicles legally within Dixiana AL and throughout the USA, an operator needs to obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The 3 classes of licenses that a person can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the topic of this article is how to select a truck driver school, we will discuss 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). Following are brief descriptions of the 2 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 greater 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 CDL is needed 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. 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 CDLs may also need endorsements to operate specific types of vehicles, such as school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate required endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to drive.

How to Research a Truck Driving School

Dixiana Alabama cement mixer truck with patriotic paint job

Once you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you wish to pursue, you can start the process of evaluating the Dixiana AL trucking schools that you are considering. As already mentioned, cost and location will undoubtedly be your primary concerns. But it can't be emphasized enough that they should not be your only concerns. Other issues, for instance the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally or even more important. So below are several more things that you should research while carrying out your due diligence before choosing, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.

Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few trucking schools in the Dixiana AL area are accredited because of the demanding process and expense to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more common 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 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 real driving time, not simulations or ride-alongs. So if a school's program is certified (the program, not the school is certified), students know that the curriculum and training will satisfy the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.

How Long in Operation? One clue to help evaluate the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in operation. 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 Dixiana AL schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so use it as one of several qualifications. You can also ask what the school's history is regarding successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won't provide those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should also have associations with local and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only affirms a superior reputation within the industry, 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 authority to confirm that the CDL trucking 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 experienced and trained. We will cover more about the teachers in the next segment. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should not be greater than 4 to 1. If it's any higher, then students will not be getting the individual instruction 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 insists it can train you to be a truck driver in a relatively short time period. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. The majority of Dixiana AL schools offer training programs that range from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the license class or type of vehicle.

How Experienced are the Trainers? As previously mentioned, it's imperative that the teachers are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. 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 vital that the teachers keep up to date with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating instructors may be a little more intuitive than other standards, and perhaps the ideal method is to visit the school and talk to the teachers in person. You can also speak with some of the students completing the training and ask if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.

How Much Driving Time? Most importantly, a good truck driver school will provide ample 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. Even though the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are necessary training tools, they are no replacement for real driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. Although driving time fluctuates between schools, a reasonable standard is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Dixiana AL schools you are considering and ask how much driving time they furnish.

Are they Independent or Captive ? You can obtain free or discounted 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 associations with many different 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 giving up the flexibility to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Clearly contract training has the potential to reduce your income opportunities when starting out. But for many it may be the best way to obtain affordable training. Just remember to find out if the Dixiana AL schools you are contemplating are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.

Provide Onsite CDL Testing? There are a number of states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its grads. If onsite testing is permitted in Alabama, ask if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more convenient than contending with graduates of 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 higher quality.

Are the Class Times Flexible? As formerly mentioned, truck driver training is just one to two months in length. With such a brief term, it's imperative that the Dixiana AL school you select offers flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. For example, if you're having difficulty learning a particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be willing to spend more time with you until you are proficient. And if you're still employed while going to training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other obligations.

Is Job Placement Provided? Once you have attained your CDL license after graduating from trucking school, you will be eager to start your new career. Verify that the schools you are looking at have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking firms their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a low job placement rate or not many Dixiana AL employers recruiting their grads, it may be a clue to look elsewhere.

Is Financial Aid Provided? Truck driving schools are much like colleges and other Dixiana AL area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. Find out if the schools you are assessing have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you understand the options and forms that must be completed.

Find Out More About Dixiana Trucking Classes

Enroll in the Best Dixiana Truck Driver Training

Selecting the ideal truck driving school is a critical first step to starting your new vocation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skill sets taught at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options offered and understanding them is crucial if you are going to succeed as an operator. However, you must receive the proper training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are lacking funds or financing, you might need to consider a captive school. You will pay a reduced or even no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can enroll in an independent trucker school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choice, or one of several affiliated with the school. It's your decision. But no matter how you get your training, you will soon be joining an industry that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Dixiana Alabama.

 

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