How to Select the Right Trucker School near Glencoe Alabama
Congrats 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 perhaps you have conducted some analysis and have found that an occupation as a truck driver provides excellent income and flexible job opportunities. No matter what your reason is, it's essential to receive the proper training by selecting 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 selection. Location will undoubtedly be an issue, especially if you have to commute from your Glencoe residence. The cost will also be important, but picking a school based entirely on price is not the ideal way to guarantee you'll obtain the right education. Just remember, your goal is to learn the knowledge and skills that will allow you to pass the CDL examinations and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that goal in mind, just how do you choose a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to discuss in the rest 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 legally within Glencoe AL and throughout the United States, an operator needs to obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The three classes of licenses that a person can qualify 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 discuss Class A and Class B licenses. What distinguishes each class of CDL is the kind of vehicle that the driver can operate together with the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Below are brief descriptions for the two 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. Several 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 CDL is needed 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 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 drive specific types of vehicles, including school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate needed endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to operate.
How to Research a Trucking School
Once you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you want to obtain, you can start the process of researching the Glencoe AL truck driver schools that you are considering. As previously mentioned, location and cost will no doubt be your primary concerns. But it can't be emphasized enough that they must not be your sole concerns. Other issues, including the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly or even more important. So following are a few additional points that you need to research while carrying out your due diligence prior to selecting, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few truck driver schools in the Glencoe AL area are accredited due to the demanding process and expense to the schools. On the other hand, 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 a number of advantages. Potential students know that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will get lots of driving time. For example, PTDI mandates 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 training and curriculum will meet the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One clue to help determine the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in business. A negatively reviewed or a fly by night school typically will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the best of Glencoe AL schools had to start from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifications. You can also ask what the school's track record is regarding successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won't supply those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain associations with local and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only confirms a superior reputation within the profession, but also bolsters their job placement program for students. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to get in touch with the Alabama licensing authority to verify that the CDL trucker schools you are considering are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in Alabama and employ teachers that are trained and experienced. We will cover more about the teachers in the following segment. Also, the student to instructor ratio should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it's any higher, then students will not be receiving the individual attention they will need. This is particularly true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And be critical of any school that claims it can teach you to drive trucks in a comparatively short time period. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. The majority of Glencoe AL schools offer training programs that range from 3 weeks to as long as two months, based on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Trainers? As previously stated, it's important that the instructors are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though several states have minimum driving time requirements to be certified as a teacher, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It's also important that the teachers stay current with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing teachers may be a bit more intuitive than other standards, and perhaps the ideal method is to pay a visit to the school and speak with the instructors in person. You can also talk to a few 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.
Sufficient Driving Time? Most importantly, a good truck driving 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 operating a truck. Although the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are essential training tools, they are no alternative for real driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. Although driving time varies between schools, a reasonable benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide at least 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Glencoe AL schools you are considering and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It's possible to get free or discounted training from certain trucking schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a particular carrier for a defined period of time. This is what's known as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than maintaining associations with numerous trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only refer to one company. The tradeoff is receiving free or less expensive training by giving up the flexibility to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Obviously contract training has the potential to restrict your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the only way to receive affordable training. Just remember to find out if the Glencoe AL schools you are contemplating are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer Onsite CDL Testing? There are a number of states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is available in Alabama, find out if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to offer it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than contending with graduates from other schools for test times at Alabama testing centers. It is moreover an indication that the DMV regards the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Flexible? As formerly mentioned, truck driver training is just one to two months in length. With such a brief term, it's important that the Glencoe AL school you choose provides 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 commit more time with you until you are proficient. And if you're still working while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Placement Provided? The moment you have obtained your commercial driver's license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be anxious to start your new career. Make sure that the schools you are looking at have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement rate is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking companies their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a poor job placement rate or not many Glencoe AL employers hiring their graduates, it might be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Given? Trucking schools are comparable to colleges and other Glencoe 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 examining have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you understand the options and forms that need to be completed.
Enroll in the Right Glencoe CDL Training
Picking the ideal truck driving school is a critical first step to launching your new vocation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skill sets taught at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options available and understanding them is vital if you are going to succeed as an operator. However, you must obtain the proper training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are short on funds or financing, you may want to consider a captive school. You will pay a reduced or in some cases no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can choose an independent truck driver school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choice, or one of many affiliated with the school. It's your decision. But no matter how you receive your training, you will soon be entering an industry that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Glencoe Alabama.