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How to Enroll in the Right CDL Training School near Glencoe Alabama

Glencoe Alabama truck carrying cargoCongratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a trucking school near Glencoe AL. Maybe it has always been your ambition to hit the open highway while operating a big ole tractor trailer. Or possibly you have done some analysis and have discovered that a career as a truck driver offers good income and flexible job opportunities. Whatever your reason is, it's important to obtain the appropriate training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are several factors that you'll want to examine before making your final choice. Location will certainly be important, especially if you have to commute from your Glencoe home. The expense will also be important, but selecting a school based only on price is not the ideal method to make certain you'll receive the appropriate training. Just remember, your goal is to master the knowledge and skills that will enable you to pass the CDL examinations and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that purpose in mind, just how do you choose 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 talk a little bit about which commercial driver's license you will ultimately need.

Which Commercial Drivers License Should You Get?

Glencoe Alabama tractor trailer traveling down road

To operate commercial vehicles lawfully within Glencoe AL and throughout the United States, an operator must obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The three classes of licenses that one can qualify 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 highlight Class A and 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 short 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 greater than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of greater than 10,000 lbs. A few of the vehicles that operators may be able to drive 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 needed to drive 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. A few 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 certain types of vehicles, including school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper required endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to drive.

How to Evaluate a Truck Driver School

Glencoe Alabama concrete mixer truck with patriotic paint job

When you have decided which CDL you wish to obtain, you can start the undertaking of researching the Glencoe AL truck driving schools that you are looking at. As previously mentioned, location and cost will undoubtedly be your initial concerns. But it can't be stressed enough that they must not be your only considerations. Other variables, including the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally if not more important. So following are several additional things that you need to research while carrying out your due diligence prior to choosing, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.

Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few truck driving schools in the Glencoe AL area are accredited because of the stringent process and cost to the schools. However, certification is more commonplace and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are a number of advantages. Potential students know that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will get lots of driving time. For example, PTDI mandates 44 hours of actual 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 comply with the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.

How Long in Business? One indicator to help evaluate the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in business. A poorly rated or a fly by night school normally will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the best of Glencoe AL schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also find out what the school's track record is concerning successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won't share those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain associations with local and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only points to an excellent reputation within the profession, but also boosts their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn't hurt to get in touch with the Alabama licensing department to confirm that the CDL trucking schools you are researching are in good standing.

How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Alabama and hire instructors that are experienced and trained. We will cover more about the instructors in the following segment. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, then students will not be receiving the personal instruction they will need. This is especially true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And look out for any school that claims it can train you to drive trucks in a relatively short time period. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. The majority of Glencoe AL schools provide training programs that range from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the class of license or type of vehicle.

How Good are the Instructors? As previously mentioned, it's important that the instructors are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time prerequisites to be certified as a teacher, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also vital that the instructors stay current with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing instructors might be a bit more intuitive than other criteria, and perhaps the best method is to visit the school and speak with the teachers in person. You can also talk to some of the students completing the training and find out if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher's qualification to train them.

Enough Driving Time? Above all else, an excellent trucking school will furnish sufficient driving time to its students. Besides, isn't that what it's all about? Driving time is the actual 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 alternative for actual driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. And even though driving time fluctuates between schools, a reasonable benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish no less than 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 Captive or Independent ? It's possible to receive free or discounted training from a number of truck driving schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a particular carrier for a defined amount of time. This is what's known as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of maintaining associations with numerous trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only work with one company. The benefit is receiving free or less expensive training by giving up the flexibility to initially work wherever you choose. Naturally contract training has the potential to reduce your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the only way to get affordable training. Just remember to ask if the Glencoe AL schools you are contemplating are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.

Is there CDL Testing Onsite? There are several states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its students. If onsite testing is available in Alabama, find out if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to offer it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than competing with graduates from other schools for test times at Alabama testing facilities. It is also an indicator that the DMV believes the approved schools to be of a superior quality.

Are the Class Times Accessible? As earlier noted, CDL training is just 1 to 2 months long. With such a brief duration, it's important that the Glencoe AL school you select provides flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. For example, if you're having a hard time learning a particular driving maneuver, then the teacher should be prepared to commit more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you're still holding a job while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other obligations.

Is Job Assistance Offered? The moment you have received your commercial driver's license after graduating from trucking school, you will be anxious to begin your new profession. Confirm that the schools you are looking at have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking companies their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a lower job placement rate or not many Glencoe AL employers hiring their grads, it may be a sign to search elsewhere.

Is Financial Aid Offered? 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 available. Ask if the schools you are examining have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that need to be completed.

Learn More About Glencoe Truck Driver Training Schools

Enroll in the Best Glencoe Truck Driver Training

Selecting the right truck driving school is a critical first step to starting your new vocation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skill sets that you will learn at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options offered and understanding them is critical to a new driver's success. However, you must receive the appropriate training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are short on funds or financing, you may need to think about a captive school. You will pay a reduced 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 firm of your choice, or one of many associated with the school. It's your decision. But no matter how you get your training, you will soon be part of a profession that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Glencoe Alabama.

 

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