How to Select the Best Truck Driver Classes near Glencoe Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a trucking school near Glencoe AL. Maybe it has always been your goal to hit the open road while driving a big ole tractor trailer. Or maybe you have conducted some research and have discovered that a career as a truck driver offers good pay and flexible work opportunities. No matter what your reason is, it's imperative to obtain the proper training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are certain factors that you'll want to examine before making your final choice. Location will no doubt be important, particularly 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 optimal method to make sure you'll obtain the right training. Don't forget, your objective is to learn the knowledge and skills that will allow you to pass the CDL exams and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that target in mind, just how do you decide on a truck driving school? That is what we are going to discuss in the balance of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which commercial driver's license you will eventually need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Require?
To operate commercial vehicles lawfully within Glencoe AL and throughout the United States, an operator needs to get a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The three license classes that one can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the subject of this article is how to select a truck driver school, we will highlight 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 short descriptions of the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is needed 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 greater 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 CDLs may also need endorsements to operate specific types of vehicles, such as school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper needed endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to operate.
How to Evaluate a Truck Driving School
When you have determined which CDL you would like to obtain, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating the Glencoe AL truck driver schools that you are looking at. As previously mentioned, cost and location will certainly be your initial concerns. But it can't be emphasized enough that they must not be your only concerns. Other issues, for example the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly or even more important. So below are several additional things that you need to 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 truck driver schools in the Glencoe AL area are accredited because of the stringent process and expense to the schools. However, certification is more commonplace 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 recognize that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will get an ample amount of driving time. As an example, PTDI calls for 44 hours of actual driving time, not ride-alongs or simulations. So if a school's course is certified (the course, not the school is certified), students know that the curriculum and training will satisfy the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One indicator to help assess the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in business. A negatively reviewed or a fly by night school usually will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the top Glencoe AL schools had to begin from their first day of training, so use it as one of several qualifiers. You can also learn what the school's track record is pertaining to successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won't provide those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain relationships with local and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only points to a quality reputation within the industry, but also boosts their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to get in touch with the Alabama licensing department to make sure that the CDL trucking schools you are researching are in good standing.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Alabama and employ instructors that are experienced and trained. We will discuss more about the teachers in the next segment. Also, the student to instructor ratio should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it's any higher, then students will not be obtaining the individual instruction they will need. This is especially true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And be critical of any school that professes it can train you to drive trucks in a relatively short time period. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. Most Glencoe AL schools provide training programs that run from three weeks to as long as two months, based on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Teachers? As earlier stated, it's important that the instructors are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although a number of 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 stay up to date with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing instructors may be a bit more subjective than other standards, and possibly the ideal approach is to visit the school and talk to the instructors face to face. You can also talk to a few 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.
Plenty of Driving Time? Most importantly, an excellent trucking school will furnish lots 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 driving a truck. Even though the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are essential training tools, they are no alternative for actual driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he 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 furnish a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Glencoe AL schools you are looking at and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can receive discounted or even free training from some trucking schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a particular carrier for a defined period of time. This is called contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of maintaining affiliations with a wide range of 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 choose. Obviously contract training has the potential to limit your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the best way to get affordable training. Just be sure to ask if the Glencoe AL schools you are contemplating are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide CDL Testing Onsite? There are some states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is permitted in Alabama, ask 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 locations. It is also an indication that the DMV considers the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Accessible? As previously mentioned, CDL training is only about 1 to 2 months long. With such a short term, it's essential that the Glencoe AL school you select offers 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 devote more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you're still employed while going to training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Assistance Offered? The moment you have acquired your CDL license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be eager to begin your new profession. Verify that the schools you are reviewing have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking firms their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a poor job placement rate or not many Glencoe AL employers hiring their grads, it may be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Truck driver schools are much like colleges and other Glencoe 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 examining have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you get through the options and forms that need to be completed.
Enroll in the Right Glencoe CDL Training
Picking the right truck driving school is a critical first step to beginning your new vocation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skills that you will learn at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are several options available and understanding them is crucial if you are going to succeed as an operator. However, you must obtain the necessary training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are lacking funds or financing, you may need to think about a captive school. You will pay a reduced or in some cases no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can select an independent trucker school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking firm of your choosing, or one of many associated 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 Glencoe Alabama.