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How to Select the Best Truck Driver Classes near Greenville Alabama

Greenville Alabama tractor trailer carrying payloadCongrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a CDL school near Greenville AL. Perhaps it has always been your goal to hit the open road while operating a huge tractor trailer. Or possibly you have conducted some research and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver provides excellent wages and flexible work opportunities. Regardless of what your reason is, it's important to get the proper training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are various variables that you'll want to examine before making your ultimate choice. Location will certainly be an issue, particularly if you need to commute from your Greenville home. The expense will also be important, but selecting a school based only on price is not the optimal way to ensure you'll receive the appropriate education. Don't forget, your objective is to learn the knowledge and skills that will allow you to pass the CDL examinations and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that purpose in mind, just how do you select a truck driving school? That is what we are going to address in the balance of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which commercial driver's license you will eventually need.

Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Require?

Greenville Alabama truck driving down road

In order to operate commercial vehicles legally within Greenville AL and throughout the USA, a driver must attain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The three license classes that one can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the topic of this article is how to pick a truck driver school, we will address Class A and B licenses. What distinguishes each class of CDL is the type of vehicle that the driver can operate in addition to the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Below are short summaries for the two classes.

Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License 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. Some 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 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. 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 CDLs may also need endorsements to operate specific kinds of vehicles, including passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate needed endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to operate.

How to Assess a Trucking School

Greenville Alabama cement truck with flag paint job

After you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you want to obtain, you can begin the undertaking of researching the Greenville AL trucking schools that you are looking at. As previously discussed, location and cost will certainly be your primary considerations. But it can't be stressed enough that they should not be your only concerns. Other issues, for instance the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly or even more important. So following are some additional points that you need to research while carrying out your due diligence before selecting, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.

Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many trucking schools in the Greenville AL area are accredited because of the rigorous process and cost to the schools. However, certification is more typical and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Interested students recognize that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will get lots of driving time. For example, PTDI requires 44 hours of real driving time, not ride-alongs or simulations. So if a school's program is certified (the program, not the school is certified), students know that the curriculum and training will fulfill the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.

How Long in Business? One clue to help assess the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in business. A negatively rated or a fly by night school usually will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the best of Greenville AL schools had to begin from their first day of training, so use it as one of multiple 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 share those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally have relationships with local and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only points to a quality reputation within the trade, but also bolsters their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to contact the Alabama licensing authority to confirm that the CDL trucking schools you are considering are in compliance.

How Effective 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 instructors in the next segment. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should not be greater than 4 to 1. If it's any higher, 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 watch out for any school that claims it can train you to drive trucks in a comparatively short time frame. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. Most Greenville AL schools provide training courses that range from three weeks to as long as two months, based on the license class or type of vehicle.

How Good are the Teachers? As already mentioned, it's important that the instructors are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time prerequisites to qualify as a teacher, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also crucial that the instructors stay current with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating instructors might be a little more intuitive than other criteria, and possibly the ideal method is to visit the school and talk to the teachers face to face. You can also talk to some of the students completing the training and find out if they are happy with the quality of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.

Sufficient Driving Time? Above all else, a good truck driving school will furnish plenty of 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. While the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are necessary training tools, they are no replacement for actual driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will become. And even though driving time varies among schools, a reasonable benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide at least 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Greenville AL schools you are looking at and find out how much driving time they provide.

Are they Captive or Independent ? It's possible to get discounted or even free training from certain truck driving schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a specific carrier for a defined period of time. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of maintaining associations with a wide range of trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only refer to one company. The benefit is receiving free or less expensive training by surrendering the flexibility to initially work wherever you choose. Obviously contract training has the potential to limit your income prospects when starting out. But for some it may be the only way to receive affordable training. Just be sure to inquire if the Greenville AL schools you are considering are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.

Is there CDL Testing Onsite? There are some states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is permitted in Alabama, find out if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than battling with graduates from other schools for test times at Alabama testing facilities. It is moreover an indication that the DMV regards the approved schools to be of a higher quality.

Are the Classes Accessible? As earlier mentioned, truck driver training is only about one to two months long. With such a brief term, it's imperative that the Greenville AL school you enroll in offers flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. For 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 attending training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other obligations.

Is Job Assistance Provided? The moment you have received your commercial driver's license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be impatient to start your new career. Verify that the schools you are considering have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement rate is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking companies their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a lower job placement rate or not many Greenville AL employers hiring their grads, it may be a sign to look elsewhere.

Is Financial Assistance Available? Truck driver schools are much like colleges and other Greenville 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 a minimum someone who can help you understand the options and forms that need to be completed.

Learn More About Greenville CDL Training Schools

Choose the Best Greenville Truck Driver Training

Choosing the right truck driving school is an important first step to starting your new profession as a local or long distance truck driver. The skill sets taught at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are many options available and understanding them is vital to a new driver's success. But first and foremost, you must get the necessary training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are short on cash or financing, you may need to consider a captive school. You will pay a lower or even no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can choose an independent trucker school and have the option of driving for the trucking firm of your choosing, or one of many associated with the school. It's your decision. But regardless of how you receive your training, you will soon be joining a profession that helps America move as a professional trucker in Greenville Alabama.

 

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