How to Decide on the Best Truck Driver Classes near Guntersville Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a truck driving school near Guntersville AL. Perhaps it has always been your goal to hit the open highway while driving a huge tractor trailer. Or maybe you have done some research and have found that a career as a truck driver offers excellent income and flexible work prospects. Regardless of what your reason is, it's imperative to obtain the appropriate training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are various factors that you'll need to think about prior to making your ultimate selection. Location will certainly be an issue, particularly if you have to commute from your Guntersville home. The expense will also be of importance, but choosing a school based solely on price is not the best means to guarantee you'll obtain the right training. Don't forget, your objective is to learn the knowledge and skills that will enable you to pass the CDL exams and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that purpose in mind, just how do you decide on a truck driving school? That is what we are going to cover in the balance of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which CDL license you will eventually need.
Which CDL Will You Need?
In order to drive commercial vehicles lawfully within Guntersville AL and throughout the USA, an operator needs to get a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The 3 classes of licenses that a person can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the subject of this article is how to select a truck driving school, we will address Class A and Class B licenses. What distinguishes each class of CDL is the type of vehicle that the driver can operate together with the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Following are brief summaries for the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is required to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of more 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 required to operate single vehicles having a GVWR of more than 26,000 lbs., or a GCWR of greater than 26,000 lbs. including a towed vehicle weighing up to 10,000 lbs. Several 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 Commercial Drivers Licenses might also need endorsements to operate specific kinds of vehicles, including school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper needed endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to operate.
How to Assess a Truck Driver School
As soon as you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you would like to pursue, you can start the undertaking of evaluating the Guntersville AL truck driver schools that you are considering. As earlier mentioned, cost and location will undoubtedly be your initial considerations. But it can't be emphasized enough that they must not be your sole considerations. Other variables, including the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally or even more important. So following are some more factors that you should research while conducting your due diligence before enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few trucking schools in the Guntersville AL area are accredited because of the demanding process and expense to the schools. However, certification is more prevalent and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are several advantages. Interested 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 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 satisfy the very high benchmarks 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 operation. A poorly rated or a fly by night school normally will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the top Guntersville AL schools had to begin from their first day of training, so use it as one of several qualifications. You can also find out what the school's history is pertaining to successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won't supply those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should also maintain associations with regional and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only points to an excellent reputation within the profession, but also boosts their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn't hurt to check with the Alabama licensing department to make sure that the CDL trucker schools you are considering are in good standing.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Alabama and employ instructors that are experienced and trained. We will cover more about the instructors in the following section. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it's any higher, then students will not be obtaining the personalized attention 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 insists it can train you to drive trucks in a comparatively short time period. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. The majority of Guntersville AL schools offer training programs that run from three weeks to as long as two months, depending on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Teachers? As earlier stated, it's essential that the instructors are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time criteria to be certified as a teacher, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It's also important that the instructors keep up to date with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing instructors may be a little 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 a few of the students completing the training and find out if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.
Adequate Driving Time? Most importantly, an excellent truck driving school will furnish ample 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. While the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are necessary training tools, they are no alternative for actual driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. Although driving time varies among schools, a reasonable standard is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish at least 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Guntersville AL schools you are researching and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It's possible to obtain free or discounted training from some truck driving schools if you make a commitment to be a driver for a specific carrier for a defined period of time. This is called contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So instead of maintaining affiliations with numerous 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 surrendering the freedom to initially work wherever you choose. Obviously contract training has the potential to limit your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the ideal way to get affordable training. Just be sure to inquire if the Guntersville AL schools you are considering are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide CDL Testing Onsite? There are some states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is allowed in Alabama, find out if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than contending with graduates from competing schools for test times at Alabama testing centers. It is moreover an indication that the DMV considers the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Flexible? As formerly mentioned, truck driving training is only about one to two months in length. With such a short term, it's imperative that the Guntersville AL school you choose offers flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. As an example, if you're having difficulty learning a certain driving maneuver, then the instructor should be prepared to spend more time with you until you are proficient. And if you're still employed while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Placement Offered? As soon as you have acquired your commercial driver's license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be keen to begin your new career. Make sure that the schools you are contemplating have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking companies their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a poor job placement rate or few Guntersville AL employers recruiting their graduates, it may be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Given? Truck driver schools are comparable to colleges and other Guntersville AL area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Ask if the schools you are evaluating have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you understand the options and forms that must be completed.
Enroll in the Right Guntersville Truck Driver Training
Picking the appropriate trucking school is a critical first step to starting your new vocation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skill sets taught at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are many options available and understanding them is crucial to a new driver's success. However, you must obtain the necessary training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are short on money or financing, you might want to consider a captive school. You will pay a lower or even no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can select an independent trucking school and have the option of driving for the trucking firm of your choice, or one of many associated with the school. It's your choice. But regardless of how you receive your training, you will soon be entering an industry that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Guntersville Alabama.