How to Decide on the Right Truck Driving Classes near Jasper Alabama
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a CDL school near Jasper AL. Maybe it has always been your dream to hit the open highway while operating a monster tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have conducted some research and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver provides good pay and flexible job prospects. Regardless of what your reason is, it's imperative to get the proper training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are a number of factors that you'll need to consider before making your final choice. Location will no doubt be important, particularly if you have to commute from your Jasper residence. The expense will also be important, but picking a school based exclusively on price is not the ideal way to ensure you'll receive the appropriate education. Don't forget, your objective 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 target in mind, just how do you decide on a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to cover in the balance of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which CDL license you will ultimately need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Should You Get?
To drive commercial vehicles legally within Jasper AL and throughout the USA, an operator needs to obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The three license classes that a driver can qualify 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 highlight Class A and Class B licenses. What distinguishes each class of CDL is the kind of vehicle that the driver can operate in addition to the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Below are brief explanations for the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is required to operate any vehicle that has a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of greater than 10,000 lbs. A few 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. 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 Commercial Drivers Licenses might also need endorsements to drive certain kinds of vehicles, for example passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate needed endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to operate.
How to Evaluate a Truck Driving School
When you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you want to obtain, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating the Jasper AL truck driving schools that you are considering. As already discussed, cost and location will undoubtedly be your primary concerns. But it can't be emphasized enough that they should not be your only concerns. Other factors, for example the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly or even more important. So below are several more things that you should research while performing your due diligence before enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few truck driver schools in the Jasper AL area are accredited because of the demanding process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, 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 certain advantages. Interested students know that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will get an ample amount of driving time. As an example, PTDI calls for 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 training and curriculum will comply with the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One indicator to help determine the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in business. A negatively rated or a fly by night school normally will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the top Jasper AL schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also ask what the school's track record is pertaining to successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won't provide those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally have associations 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 placement program for graduates. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to contact the Alabama licensing authority to make sure that the CDL trucking schools you are researching are in compliance.
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 discuss more about the teachers in the following segment. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it's any higher, then students will not be obtaining the individual attention they will need. This is particularly true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And look out for any school that professes it can train you to drive trucks in a comparatively short time period. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. Most Jasper AL schools offer training courses that run from three weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Instructors? As already stated, it's important that the instructors are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though several states have minimum driving time prerequisites to qualify as an instructor, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also crucial that the instructors keep current with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating instructors might be a little more intuitive than other criteria, and possibly the ideal approach is to pay a visit to 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 satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.
How Much 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 real time spent behind the wheel driving a truck. While 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 gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. Although driving time differs between schools, a good benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Jasper AL schools you are considering and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can get discounted or even free training from some trucking schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a particular carrier for a defined period of time. This is what's known as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So instead of maintaining affiliations with numerous trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only refer to one company. The tradeoff is receiving less expensive or even free training by surrendering the flexibility to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Clearly contract training has the potential to limit your income prospects when starting out. But for many it may be the best way to receive affordable training. Just make sure to find out if the Jasper AL schools you are looking at are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer Onsite CDL Testing? There are several states that will permit third 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 advantage is that it is more convenient than battling with graduates from competing schools for test times at Alabama testing locations. It is also an indicator that the DMV views the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Accessible? As formerly noted, truck driving training is just 1 to 2 months in length. With such a brief duration, it's imperative that the Jasper AL school you select offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. As an example, if you're having a hard time learning a particular driving maneuver, then the teacher should be willing to commit 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 fit in working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Assistance Provided? The moment you have obtained your CDL license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be anxious to begin your new career. Confirm that the schools you are considering have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking companies their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a poor job placement rate or few Jasper AL employers hiring their grads, it might be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Available? Truck driver schools are similar to colleges and other Jasper AL area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being available. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that must be completed.
Enroll in the Best Jasper CDL Training
Picking the ideal truck driving school is an important first step to starting your new occupation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skill sets taught at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options available and understanding them is vital if you are going to succeed as an operator. But first and foremost, you must obtain the appropriate training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are lacking cash or financing, you might want to look into 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 CDL school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking company of your choice, or one of many associated with the school. It's your decision. But no matter how you get your training, you will soon be entering an industry that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Jasper Alabama.