How to Find the Right Trucking Classes near Jasper Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a truck driving school near Jasper AL. Perhaps it has always been your goal to hit the open highway while driving a huge tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have conducted some analysis and have discovered that a career as a truck driver provides excellent wages and flexible job prospects. No matter what your reason is, it's imperative to get the appropriate training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are a number of factors that you'll need to examine before making your ultimate selection. Location will certainly be an issue, particularly if you have to commute from your Jasper home. The expense will also be important, but choosing a school based entirely on price is not the best method to ensure you'll receive the right education. Just remember, your objective is to learn the skills and knowledge that will allow you to pass the CDL examinations and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that objective in mind, just how do you choose a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to address in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which commercial driver's license you will eventually need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Need?
In order to operate commercial vehicles legally within Jasper AL and throughout the United States, a driver must attain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The three classes of licenses that a person 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 discuss Class A and 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). Following are brief descriptions for the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is required to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of greater than 10,000 lbs. Several 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 needed to drive 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. Several 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 Commercial Drivers Licenses may also require endorsements to operate specific kinds of vehicles, such as school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper required endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to drive.
How to Research a Trucking School
After you have determined which CDL you would like to obtain, you can begin the process of researching the Jasper AL truck driving schools that you are considering. As already mentioned, cost and location will undoubtedly be your initial considerations. But it can't be emphasized enough that they should not be your only considerations. Other variables, for instance the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly or even more important. So following are a few additional things that you should research while conducting your due diligence before selecting, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many truck driving schools in the Jasper AL area are accredited because of the demanding process and expense to the schools. On the other hand, 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 certain advantages. Interested students recognize that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will be given an ample amount of driving time. As an example, PTDI requires 44 hours of actual driving time, not simulations or ride-alongs. So if a school's program is certified (the program, not the school is certified), students know that the curriculum and training will fulfill the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help measure 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 stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the top Jasper AL schools had to start from their first day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also find out what the school's history is pertaining to successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won't provide those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should also have associations with local and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only affirms a superior reputation within the profession, but also boosts their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to check with the Alabama licensing authority to verify that the CDL trucker schools you are reviewing are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Alabama and employ instructors that are trained and experienced. We will talk more about the teachers in the following section. Also, the student to instructor proportion should be no higher than 4 to 1. If it's any higher, then students will not be receiving the personal attention they will need. This is particularly true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And be critical of any school that professes it can teach you to be a truck driver in a relatively short time frame. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. Most Jasper AL schools provide training courses that range from three weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Teachers? As already mentioned, it's imperative that the teachers are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though several states have minimum driving time criteria to be certified as an instructor, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also crucial that the instructors stay up to date with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating instructors may be a little more subjective than other standards, and perhaps the ideal approach is to pay a visit to the school and speak with the instructors in person. You can also speak with a few of the students completing the training and ask if they are happy with the quality of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.
Plenty of Driving Time? Above all else, a great trucking school will provide sufficient 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 operating a truck. Although the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are essential training tools, they are no replacement for actual driving. The more instruction 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 good benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide at least 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Jasper AL schools you are looking at and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can get free or discounted training from some trucking schools if you make a commitment to drive for a specified carrier for a defined time period. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than having relationships with numerous trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only refer to one company. The tradeoff is receiving free or less expensive training by giving up the flexibility to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Obviously 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 be sure to inquire if the Jasper AL schools you are contemplating are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there Onsite CDL Testing? There are some states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its students. If onsite testing is available in Alabama, find out if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than contending with graduates of competing schools for test times at Alabama testing locations. It is also an indicator that the DMV deems the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Convenient? As formerly noted, CDL 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 curriculum and the scheduling of classes. As an example, if you're having a hard time learning a particular driving maneuver, then the teacher should be prepared to spend 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 Provided? Once you have received your commercial driver's license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be anxious to begin your new career. Confirm that the schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement rate is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking companies their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a poor job placement rate or few Jasper AL employers recruiting their graduates, it might be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Truck driving schools are similar to colleges and other Jasper AL area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you get through the options and forms that need to be completed.
Enroll in the Right Jasper Truck Driver Training
Picking the ideal truck driving school is a critical first step to launching your new vocation 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 several options available and understanding them is critical to a new driver's success. However, you must get the proper training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are lacking cash or financing, you might want to consider a captive school. You will pay a reduced or even no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can choose an independent truck driver school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking company of your choosing, or one of several associated with the school. It's your choice. But regardless of how you obtain your training, you will soon be part of an industry that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Jasper Alabama.