How to Select the Right Trucker Classes near Forestdale Alabama
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a trucking school near Forestdale AL. Perhaps it has always been your dream to hit the open road while driving a huge tractor trailer. Or possibly you have conducted some analysis and have discovered that a career as a truck driver offers good income and flexible job opportunities. Regardless of what your reason is, it's imperative to get the proper training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are various variables that you'll want to think about before making your final choice. Location will undoubtedly be important, particularly if you have to commute from your Forestdale residence. The cost will also be of importance, but picking a school based only on price is not the best means to make sure you'll receive the proper education. Just remember, your goal is to master the skills and knowledge that will allow you to pass the CDL examinations and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that purpose 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 rest 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 operate commercial vehicles lawfully within Forestdale AL and throughout the United States, an operator needs to get a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The three classes of licenses that one can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the subject of this article is how to select a truck driver school, we will focus on Class A and Class B licenses. What differentiates 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 explanations for the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is required to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of greater 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 CDL 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. Several 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 may also require endorsements to operate certain types of vehicles, such as passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper required endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to drive.
How to Research a Truck Driver School
After you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you want to obtain, you can begin the undertaking of researching the Forestdale AL truck driving schools that you are considering. As already discussed, cost and location will undoubtedly be your initial considerations. But it can't be stressed enough that they must not be your sole considerations. Other issues, such as the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly if not more important. So following are a few additional things that you should research while carrying out your due diligence prior to enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many truck driver schools in the Forestdale AL area are accredited because of the stringent process and expense to the schools. However, 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. Prospective students know that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will get lots of driving time. For example, PTDI calls for 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 training and curriculum will fulfill the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One indicator to help determine the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in business. A negatively rated or a fly by night school typically will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the best of Forestdale AL schools had to start from their first day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifiers. You can also find out what the school's history is pertaining to successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won't share those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should also maintain associations with local and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only confirms a superior reputation within the trade, but also bolsters their job placement program for students. It also wouldn't hurt to check with the Alabama licensing department to make sure that the CDL trucker schools you are researching are in good standing.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Alabama and employ instructors that are experienced and trained. We will cover more about the teachers in the following segment. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should not be greater than 4 to 1. If it's any higher, then students will not be receiving the personalized 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 teach you to be a truck driver in a relatively short time period. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. Most Forestdale AL schools provide training programs that run from three weeks to as long as two months, depending on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Trainers? As earlier stated, it's imperative that the teachers are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though several states have minimum driving time prerequisites to be certified as an instructor, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It's also important that the instructors keep current with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating teachers may be a little more intuitive than other standards, and perhaps the best approach is to check out the school and speak with the instructors in person. You can also talk to 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.
Sufficient Driving Time? Above all else, a great truck driver school will furnish 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 operating a truck. While the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are essential 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 become. Although driving time fluctuates among schools, a good benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Forestdale AL schools you are considering and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can receive discounted or even free training from certain trucking schools if you make a commitment to drive for a specified 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 instead of maintaining affiliations with many different trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only refer to 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. Obviously contract training has the potential to limit your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the ideal way to receive affordable training. Just be sure to find out if the Forestdale AL schools you are contemplating are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there CDL Testing Onsite? There are several states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is available in Alabama, find out if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to offer it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than contending with graduates from competing schools for test times at Alabama testing locations. It is moreover an indication that the DMV considers the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Flexible? As formerly mentioned, truck driving training is only about 1 to 2 months long. With such a brief term, it's imperative that the Forestdale AL school you enroll in 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 dedicate more time with you until you are proficient. And if you're still employed while going to training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Assistance Offered? As soon as you have acquired your CDL license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be anxious to begin your new career. Confirm that the schools you are contemplating have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking companies their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a low job placement rate or not many Forestdale AL employers hiring their graduates, it may be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Trucking schools are much like colleges and other Forestdale AL area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being offered. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you understand the options and forms that must be submitted.
Choose the Best Forestdale Truck Driver Training
Selecting the ideal truck driving school is an important first step to starting your new occupation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skill sets that you will learn at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are several options offered and understanding them is crucial to a new driver's success. But first and foremost, you must obtain the necessary training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are lacking cash 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 enroll in an independent trucker school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking company of your choosing, or one of many affiliated with the school. It's your choice. But regardless of how you obtain your training, you will in the near future be joining an industry that helps America move as a professional trucker in Forestdale Alabama.