How to Pick the Best CDL Training School near Glencoe Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a CDL school near Glencoe AL. Perhaps it has always been your dream to hit the open highway while operating a huge tractor trailer. Or maybe you have done some research and have found that an occupation as a truck driver offers good wages and flexible job prospects. No matter what your reason is, it's essential to get the proper training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are several factors that you'll need to think about prior to making your final choice. Location will no doubt be an issue, especially if you have to commute from your Glencoe home. The expense will also be of importance, but selecting a school based exclusively on price is not the ideal method to make certain you'll get the proper training. Just remember, your objective is to master the skills and knowledge 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 decide on a truck driving school? That is what we are going to discuss in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which CDL license you will eventually need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Require?
In order to drive commercial vehicles lawfully within Glencoe AL and throughout the USA, an operator must attain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The three 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 pick a truck driving school, we will highlight Class A and Class B licenses. What distinguishes each class of CDL is the type 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 of the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is needed to operate any vehicle that has a GCWR of greater than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of greater 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 required to operate single vehicles having a GVWR of greater than 26,000 lbs., or a GCWR of greater than 26,000 lbs. including a towed vehicle weighing up to 10,000 lbs. Several 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 may also need endorsements to operate specific kinds of vehicles, including passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper needed endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to drive.
How to Research a Truck Driving School
Once you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you wish to obtain, you can start the process of evaluating the Glencoe AL truck driving schools that you are considering. 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, for example the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly or even more important. So below are a few additional points that you need to research while performing your due diligence before choosing, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many trucking schools in the Glencoe AL area are accredited because of the rigorous process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more typical and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Interested students recognize that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will be given plenty of driving time. As an example, PTDI requires 44 hours of real driving time, not simulations or ride-alongs. So if a school's course is certified (the course, not the school is certified), students know that the curriculum and training will comply with the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One indicator to help measure the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively ranked or a fly by night school normally will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the top Glencoe AL schools had to start from their first day of training, so use it as one of several qualifications. You can also ask what the school's track record is pertaining to successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won't supply those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain associations with local and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only points to a superior reputation within the industry, but also boosts their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to contact the Alabama licensing department to confirm that the CDL trucker schools you are considering are in good standing.
How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, 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. Also, the student to instructor proportion should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, then students will not be receiving the personalized attention 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 teach you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short period of time. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. The majority of Glencoe AL schools provide training programs that range from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Trainers? As earlier mentioned, it's essential that the instructors are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time criteria to be certified as a teacher, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It's also vital that the instructors keep current with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating teachers may be a little more subjective than other criteria, and perhaps the ideal approach is to check out the school and talk to the instructors in person. You can also speak with some of the students completing the training and find out if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher's qualification to train them.
Adequate Driving Time? Above all else, a good truck driving school will furnish sufficient driving time to its students. Besides, 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 important training methods, they are no substitute for actual driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. And even though driving time varies between schools, a good benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide at least 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Glencoe AL schools you are looking at and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It's possible to get discounted or even free training from certain truck driving schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a specified carrier for a defined time period. This is called contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of having associations with numerous trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only refer to one company. The tradeoff is receiving less expensive or even free training by surrendering the flexibility to initially work wherever you choose. Obviously contract training has the potential to restrict your income prospects when starting out. But for some it may be the ideal way to receive affordable training. Just make sure to inquire if the Glencoe AL schools you are contemplating are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer Onsite CDL Testing? There are some states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is allowed in Alabama, ask if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to offer it. One benefit is that it is more convenient than competing with graduates of competing schools for test times at Alabama testing centers. It is also an indication that the DMV considers the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Flexible? As earlier mentioned, truck driver training is only about one to two months in length. With such a short term, it's important that the Glencoe 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 instructor should be prepared to spend 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 commitments.
Is Job Placement Provided? Once you have received your commercial driver's license after graduating from trucking school, you will be keen to begin your new career. Make sure that the schools you are contemplating have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement rate is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking companies their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a lower job placement rate or not many Glencoe AL employers hiring their grads, it might be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? Truck driving schools are comparable to colleges and other Glencoe AL area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. Find out if the schools you are evaluating have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that must be completed.
Enroll in the Right Glencoe CDL Training
Picking the appropriate trucking school is an important first step to starting your new vocation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skill sets taught at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are several options available and understanding them is critical to a new driver's success. But first and foremost, you must obtain the proper training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are short on cash or financing, you might need to think about 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 CDL school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking firm of your choosing, or one of several associated with the school. It's your decision. But no matter how you get your training, you will soon be entering a profession that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Glencoe Alabama.