How to Enroll in the Best Truck Driver School near Eufaula Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a trucking school near Eufaula AL. Maybe it has always been your ambition to hit the open road while operating a monster tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have conducted some analysis and have found that a career as a truck driver offers good pay and flexible job opportunities. Whatever your reason is, it's essential to receive the appropriate training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are various variables that you'll need to consider before making your final selection. Location will certainly be an issue, particularly if you need to commute from your Eufaula home. The cost will also be of importance, but selecting a school based entirely on price is not the ideal method to ensure you'll get the right education. Just remember, your objective is to master the skills and knowledge that will allow you to pass the CDL exams and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that objective in mind, just how do you decide on a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to discuss in the balance of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which commercial driver's license you will eventually need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Require?
To drive commercial vehicles legally within Eufaula AL and throughout the United States, a driver needs to attain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The 3 classes of licenses that one can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the subject 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 kind of vehicle that the driver can operate as well as the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Below are brief descriptions for the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is needed to operate 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 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 may also require endorsements to operate specific kinds of vehicles, for example passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper required endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to drive.
How to Evaluate a Truck Driver School
Once you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you would like to pursue, you can begin the undertaking of assessing the Eufaula AL truck driving schools that you are considering. As previously discussed, cost and location will certainly be your primary concerns. But it can't be stressed enough that they should not be your only concerns. Other variables, including the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly or even more important. So following are a few more factors that you should research while carrying out your due diligence prior to selecting, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few truck driver schools in the Eufaula AL area are accredited because of the demanding process and expense to the schools. However, certification is more prevalent and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Potential students know that the training will be of the highest standard, 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 satisfy the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One indicator to help determine the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively rated or a fly by night school usually will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the top Eufaula AL schools had to start from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifiers. You can also learn what the school's track record is regarding successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won't supply those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should also have relationships with regional and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only confirms a superior reputation within the profession, but also bolsters their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn't hurt to check with the Alabama licensing department to verify that the CDL trucker schools you are reviewing are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in Alabama and employ instructors that are trained and experienced. We will talk more about the teachers in the next segment. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should be no higher than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, then students will not be getting the personal instruction they will need. This is especially true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And look out for any school that professes it can train you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short time frame. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. The majority of Eufaula AL schools provide training courses that run from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Instructors? As already mentioned, it's essential that the teachers are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although a number of states have minimum driving time prerequisites to qualify as an instructor, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also crucial that the teachers stay up to date with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing teachers may be a bit more subjective than other criteria, and possibly the ideal approach is to visit the school and talk to the teachers face to face. You can also talk to some of the students going through the training and ask if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.
Adequate Driving Time? Above all else, an excellent trucking school will furnish sufficient 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. While the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are important training tools, they are no replacement for real driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will become. And even though driving time fluctuates between schools, a good benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide no less than 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Eufaula AL schools you are researching and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It's possible to obtain free or discounted training from a number of truck driving schools if you enter into an agreement 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 rather than having associations 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 surrendering the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Obviously contract training has the potential to restrict your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the ideal way to get affordable training. Just be sure to ask if the Eufaula AL schools you are looking at are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there Onsite CDL Testing? There are several states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its students. If onsite testing is allowed in Alabama, find out if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than competing with graduates from competing schools for test times at Alabama testing centers. It is also an indicator that the DMV deems the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Accessible? As formerly noted, CDL training is only about 1 to 2 months in length. With such a brief duration, it's imperative that the Eufaula AL school you select provides flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. As an example, if you're having difficulty learning a particular driving maneuver, then the teacher should be willing to devote more time with you until you are proficient. And if you're still holding a job while going to training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Assistance Provided? As soon as you have received your commercial driver's license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be eager to begin your new profession. Confirm that the schools you are looking at 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 companies their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a poor job placement rate or few Eufaula AL employers hiring their grads, it may be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Trucking schools are much like colleges and other Eufaula AL area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Ask 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.
Choose the Best Eufaula CDL Training
Choosing the appropriate truck driver school is an essential first step to beginning 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 many options offered and understanding them is crucial to a new driver's success. But first and foremost, you must receive the appropriate training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are short on money or financing, you might 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 CDL school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking company of your choice, or one of many affiliated with the school. It's your decision. But no matter how you get your training, you will in the near future be part of a profession that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Eufaula Alabama.