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How to Select the Right Trucking School near Greenville Alabama

Greenville Alabama tractor trailer hauling payloadCongrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a truck driving school near Greenville AL. Maybe it has always been your dream to hit the open highway while operating a monster tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have done some analysis and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver provides excellent income and flexible work prospects. Regardless of what your reason is, it's imperative to receive the appropriate training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are certain variables that you'll want to think about prior to making your final selection. Location will undoubtedly be important, especially if you need to commute from your Greenville residence. The cost will also be important, but picking a school based exclusively on price is not the optimal method to make certain you'll obtain the proper education. Just remember, your objective is to learn the knowledge and skills that will enable you to pass the CDL examinations and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that target in mind, just how do you select a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to discuss in the balance of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which CDL license you will ultimately need.

Which CDL Will You Need?

Greenville Alabama tractor trailer traveling down expressway

To operate commercial vehicles legally within Greenville AL and throughout the United States, an operator needs to get a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The 3 classes of licenses that a driver can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the topic of this article is how to select a truck driving school, we will address 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). Following are brief explanations for the 2 classes.

Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is needed to operate any vehicle that has a GCWR of more 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 CDL is required 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. A few 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 might also need endorsements to operate certain types of vehicles, such as school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate required endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to operate.

How to Assess a Trucking School

Greenville Alabama concrete mixer truck with flag paint job

After you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you would like to pursue, you can begin the process of evaluating the Greenville AL trucking schools that you are looking at. As earlier discussed, location and cost will certainly be your initial concerns. But it can't be emphasized enough that they should not be your sole considerations. Other variables, including the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally if not more important. So following are some additional points that you should research while performing your due diligence before choosing, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.

Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few trucking schools in the Greenville 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 required to become certified, but there are several advantages. Prospective students know 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 training and curriculum will meet the very high standards set by PTDI.

How Long in Operation? One indicator to help measure the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in business. A negatively reviewed or a fly by night school normally will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the top Greenville AL schools had to start from their first day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifications. You can also learn what the school's track record is relating to successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won't provide those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally have relationships with local and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only points to an excellent reputation within the trade, but also bolsters their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn't hurt to contact the Alabama licensing authority to verify that the CDL trucking schools you are researching are in compliance.

How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in Alabama and employ instructors that are experienced and trained. We will discuss more about the instructors in the following section. Also, the student to instructor proportion should be no higher than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, then students will not be receiving the personal attention they will need. This is particularly 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. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. Most Greenville AL schools offer training programs that range from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the class of license or kind of vehicle.

How Experienced are the Teachers? As earlier stated, it's important that the instructors are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though several states have minimum driving time requirements to be certified as an instructor, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also crucial that the teachers stay current with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating instructors might be a bit more subjective than other criteria, and perhaps the ideal method is to check out the school and talk to the instructors face to face. You can also speak with a few of the students completing the training and find out if they are satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.

Plenty of Driving Time? Most importantly, a great truck driving school will provide sufficient driving time to its students. After all, isn't that what it's all about? Driving time is the actual time spent behind the wheel driving a truck. While the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are essential training tools, they are no replacement for real driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. And even though driving time fluctuates between schools, a good standard is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide no less than 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Greenville AL schools you are looking at and find out how much driving time they furnish.

Are they Captive or Independent ? You can obtain discounted or even free training from some truck driving schools if you make a commitment to drive for a specified carrier for a defined amount of time. This is called contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So rather than maintaining relationships with many different 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 be a driver wherever you choose. Clearly contract training has the potential to limit your income opportunities when starting out. But for some it may be the ideal way to obtain affordable training. Just be sure to inquire if the Greenville AL schools you are contemplating are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.

Is there CDL Testing Onsite? There are a number of states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its grads. If onsite testing is available in Alabama, ask if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than battling with graduates of other schools for test times at Alabama testing facilities. It is also an indicator that the DMV regards the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.

Are the Class Times Convenient? As formerly mentioned, truck driver training is only about 1 to 2 months in length. With such a short duration, it's imperative that the Greenville AL school you choose offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. As an example, if you're having difficulty 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 needs to be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other obligations.

Is Job Placement Offered? Once you have attained your commercial driver's license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be anxious to start your new profession. Make sure that the schools you are reviewing have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking companies their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a low job placement rate or not many Greenville AL employers recruiting their graduates, it might be a sign to look elsewhere.

Is Financial Aid Provided? Truck driver schools are comparable to 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 reviewing have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you understand the options and forms that need to be submitted.

Learn More About Greenville Truck Driver Schools

Enroll in the Right Greenville CDL Training

Selecting the appropriate truck driving school is an essential first step to starting your new profession 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 many options offered and understanding them is crucial to a new driver's success. But first and foremost, you must receive the necessary training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are lacking funds or financing, you might want to look into a captive school. You will pay a reduced or even no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can select an independent trucker school and have the option of driving for the trucking firm of your choice, or one of several associated with the school. It's your decision. But no matter how you get your training, you will in the near future be part of an industry that helps America move as a professional trucker in Greenville Alabama.

 

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