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How to Pick the Best Trucking Classes near Harvest Alabama

Harvest Alabama tractor trailer hauling cargoCongratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a CDL school near Harvest AL. Perhaps it has always been your ambition to hit the open highway while driving a monster tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have done some research and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver provides excellent wages and flexible work prospects. No matter what your reason is, it's essential to obtain the appropriate training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are several factors that you'll need to consider before making your final selection. Location will certainly be important, especially if you need to commute from your Harvest residence. The expense will also be of importance, but selecting a school based solely on price is not the optimal means to ensure you'll receive the appropriate training. Just remember, your goal is to learn the skills and knowledge 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? The answer to that question is what we are going to address in the rest of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which commercial driver's license you will eventually need.

Which Commercial Drivers License Should You Get?

Harvest Alabama truck driving down road

To drive commercial vehicles lawfully within Harvest AL and throughout the United States, an operator needs to attain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The three classes of licenses that a person can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the subject of this article is how to select a truck driver school, we will highlight Class A and Class B licenses. What differentiates 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 explanations for the 2 classes.

Class A CDL. A Class A CDL 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. 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 Commercial Drivers License is required to drive single vehicles having a GVWR of greater 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 types of vehicles, for example passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper needed endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to operate.

How to Evaluate a Trucking School

Harvest Alabama cement mixer truck with flag paint job

After you have determined which CDL you wish to obtain, you can begin the process of evaluating the Harvest AL trucking schools that you are looking at. As already discussed, cost and location will undoubtedly be your primary concerns. But it can't be stressed enough that they must not be your sole concerns. Other issues, such as the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally if not more important. So following are some additional points that you need to research while carrying out your due diligence before selecting, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.

Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many truck driving schools in the Harvest AL area are accredited due to the demanding process and expense to the schools. However, certification is more typical and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are a number of advantages. Prospective students know that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will be given an ample amount of driving time. As an example, PTDI requires 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 curriculum and training will satisfy the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.

How Long in Operation? One clue to help determine the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly ranked 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 top Harvest AL schools had to begin from their first day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also ask what the school's history is regarding successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won't supply those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain associations with local and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only confirms a quality reputation within the industry, 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 make sure that the CDL trucking 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 trained and experienced. We will discuss more about the teachers 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 getting the personalized instruction 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 period. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. Most Harvest AL schools provide training courses that run from three weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the class of license or kind of vehicle.

How Experienced are the Instructors? As previously mentioned, it's important that the instructors are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although a number of states have minimum driving time criteria to qualify 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 might be a bit more intuitive than other standards, and possibly the ideal approach is to check out the school and speak with the teachers face to face. You can also talk to some of the students completing the training and ask if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.

Enough Driving Time? Above all else, an excellent 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 actual time spent behind the wheel operating a truck. While the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are necessary training methods, they are no replacement for real driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. Although driving time can vary between schools, a good benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish no less than 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Harvest AL schools you are researching and ask how much driving time they provide.

Are they Captive or Independent ? You can receive discounted or even free training from certain truck driver schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a particular carrier for a defined amount of time. This is called contract training, and the schools that offer 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 less expensive or even free training by surrendering the flexibility to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Obviously contract training has the potential to restrict your income prospects when starting out. But for many it may be the best way to get affordable training. Just be sure to inquire if the Harvest 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 3rd party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its students. If onsite testing is allowed in Alabama, ask if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more convenient than competing with graduates from competing schools for test times at Alabama testing locations. It is also an indicator that the DMV considers the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.

Are the Classes Flexible? As earlier mentioned, truck driving training is only about one to two months long. With such a brief term, it's essential that the Harvest AL school you choose provides flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. For example, if you're having difficulty learning a certain driving maneuver, then the teacher should be prepared to dedicate more time with you until you have it mastered. 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? The moment you have obtained your CDL license after graduating from trucking school, you will be eager to start your new career. Confirm that the schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking firms their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a low job placement rate or few Harvest AL employers hiring their graduates, it may be a clue to look elsewhere.

Is Financial Aid Given? Trucking schools are comparable to colleges and other Harvest AL area technical or vocational 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 least someone who can help you understand the options and forms that need to be submitted.

Find Out More About Harvest Truck Driving Schools

Choose the Right Harvest CDL Training

Picking the appropriate trucking school is an essential first step to launching your new vocation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skills taught at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are many options offered and understanding them is vital if you are going to succeed as an operator. However, you must receive the proper training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are short on money or financing, you might need 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 select an independent truck driver school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choosing, or one of many affiliated with the school. It's your choice. But regardless of how you obtain your training, you will in the near future be entering an industry that helps America move as a professional trucker in Harvest Alabama.

 

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