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How to Enroll in the Best CDL Driving School near Harvest Alabama

Harvest Alabama tractor trailer carrying cargoCongratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a trucking school near Harvest AL. Perhaps it has always been your ambition to hit the open highway while operating a big ole tractor trailer. Or possibly you have conducted some research and have found that an occupation as a truck driver offers excellent pay and flexible work prospects. Regardless of what your reason is, it's essential to receive the appropriate training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are a number of factors that you'll want to think about prior to making your ultimate selection. Location will undoubtedly be important, particularly 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 make sure you'll obtain the appropriate training. Just remember, your goal is to master the knowledge and skills that will allow you to pass the CDL exams and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that goal in mind, just how do you pick 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?

Harvest Alabama truck traveling down highway

To operate commercial vehicles lawfully within Harvest AL and throughout the United States, a driver must obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The three license classes that a person can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the topic of this article is how to choose a truck driver school, we will focus on 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). Below are short descriptions of the 2 classes.

Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is required to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of greater than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of greater than 10,000 lbs. Some 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 operate 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 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 require endorsements to drive certain types of vehicles, for example school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate needed endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to operate.

How to Assess a CDL School

Harvest Alabama cement truck with flag paint job

After you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you want to obtain, you can start the process of researching the Harvest AL truck driving schools that you are looking at. As earlier mentioned, location and cost will no doubt be your primary considerations. But it can't be stressed enough that they should not be your only concerns. Other variables, for example the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally if not more important. So following are some more things that you need to research while carrying out your due diligence prior to enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.

Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few trucking schools in the Harvest AL area are accredited because of the stringent process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more common and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required 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 be given lots of driving time. As an example, PTDI mandates 44 hours of actual driving time, not simulations or ride-alongs. So if a school's course is certified (the course, not the school is certified), students know that the curriculum and training will comply with the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.

How Long in Operation? One indicator to help assess the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly ranked or a fly by night school typically will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the best of Harvest AL schools had to begin from their first day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifications. You can also find out what the school's track record is regarding successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won't supply those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain associations with regional and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only confirms 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 department to make sure that the CDL trucking schools you are researching are in good standing.

How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in Alabama and hire instructors that are trained and experienced. We will cover more about the teachers in the following section. Also, the student to instructor proportion should not be greater than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, then students will not be obtaining the personalized attention they will need. This is particularly true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And look out for any school that claims it can teach you to drive trucks in a comparatively short period of time. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. Most Harvest AL schools provide training courses that range from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the class of license or type of vehicle.

How Good are the Instructors? As already mentioned, it's important that the instructors are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although several states have minimum driving time requirements to qualify as an instructor, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also vital that the instructors stay current with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing teachers may be a little more subjective than other standards, and possibly the best approach is to check out the school and talk to 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 quality of instruction and the teacher's qualification to train them.

Plenty of Driving Time? Above all else, a good trucking school will furnish plenty of driving time to its students. Besides, isn't that what it's all about? Driving time is the real time spent behind the wheel driving a truck. Even though the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are necessary training methods, they are no alternative for actual driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will become. And even though driving time can vary between schools, a reasonable benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide no less than 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Harvest AL schools you are looking at and ask how much driving time they furnish.

Are they Captive or Independent ? It's possible to obtain discounted or even free training from certain truck driver schools if you make a commitment to be a driver for a specified carrier for a defined time period. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So rather than having relationships with many different trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only refer to one company. The benefit is receiving less expensive or even free training by surrendering the flexibility to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Naturally 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 receive affordable training. Just be sure to inquire if the Harvest AL schools you are contemplating are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.

Offer CDL Testing Onsite? There are a number of states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its grads. If onsite testing is available in Alabama, ask if the schools you are considering 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 indicator that the DMV deems the approved schools to be of a superior quality.

Are the Class Times Accessible? As previously noted, CDL training is only about one to two months in length. With such a short duration, it's essential that the Harvest AL school you enroll in offers flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. For example, if you're having difficulty learning a particular driving maneuver, then the teacher should be prepared to dedicate 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 fit in working hours or other obligations.

Is Job Assistance Offered? As soon as you have received your commercial driver's license after graduating from trucking school, you will be anxious to begin your new profession. Confirm that the schools you are looking at have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking companies their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a low job placement rate or not many Harvest AL employers hiring their grads, it might be a sign to look elsewhere.

Is Financial Assistance Available? Trucking schools are similar to colleges and other Harvest AL area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being offered. Find out if the schools you are examining have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you understand the options and forms that need to be completed.

Learn More About Harvest Trucking Schools

Enroll in the Best Harvest CDL Training

Picking the appropriate truck driver school is an important first step to beginning 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 several options available and understanding them is critical if you are going to succeed as an operator. But first and foremost, you must get 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 may want to consider a captive school. You will pay a lower or in some cases no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can select an independent trucker school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking company of your choosing, or one of several affiliated with the school. It's your decision. But no matter how you obtain your training, you will soon be part of a profession that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Harvest Alabama.

 

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