How to Decide on the Best CDL Training School near Lanett Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a trucking school near Lanett AL. Maybe it has always been your goal to hit the open road while operating a huge tractor trailer. Or maybe you have conducted some research and have discovered that a career as a truck driver provides good wages and flexible job opportunities. Regardless of what your reason is, it's essential to get the proper training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are certain factors that you'll want to consider prior to making your final selection. Location will certainly be an issue, especially if you need to commute from your Lanett residence. The cost will also be of importance, but picking a school based only on price is not the best way to guarantee you'll obtain the proper education. Don't forget, your objective is to learn the knowledge and skills that will enable you to pass the CDL examinations and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that purpose in mind, just how do you pick a truck driving school? That is what we are going to cover in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which commercial driver's license you will ultimately need.
Which CDL Will You Need?
In order to drive commercial vehicles lawfully within Lanett AL and throughout the United States, a driver needs to get a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The 3 license classes that one can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the topic of this article is how to choose a truck driver school, we will discuss 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). Following are short descriptions of the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is needed to operate any vehicle that has a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of greater than 10,000 lbs. Some 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 Commercial Drivers License is required to drive 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 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 might also need endorsements to operate specific kinds of vehicles, such as passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate required endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to operate.
How to Research a Trucking School
Once you have determined which CDL you wish to pursue, you can start the process of assessing the Lanett AL truck driving schools that you are looking at. As earlier discussed, cost and location will undoubtedly be your initial considerations. But it can't be stressed enough that they must not be your sole considerations. Other issues, such as the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly or even more important. So below are a few more factors that you need to research while performing your due diligence before choosing, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few truck driving schools in the Lanett AL area are accredited because of the demanding process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more common and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are several advantages. Prospective students recognize that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will receive plenty of driving time. For example, PTDI requires 44 hours of real 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 comply with the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One indicator to help determine the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly reviewed or a fly by night school typically will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the top Lanett AL schools had to start from their first day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also ask what the school's history is concerning successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won't supply those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally have associations with local and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only points to a quality reputation within the trade, but also boosts their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn't hurt to contact the Alabama licensing authority to make sure that the CDL trucking schools you are researching are in good standing.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Alabama and hire instructors that are experienced and trained. 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 getting the personal instruction they will need. This is especially true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And look out for any school that professes it can teach you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short time period. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. Most Lanett AL schools offer training programs that run from three weeks to as long as two months, based on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Instructors? As earlier mentioned, it's essential that the instructors are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although a number of 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 vital that the teachers keep up to date with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing instructors may be a bit more subjective than other criteria, and possibly the ideal method 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 find out if they are satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher's qualification to train them.
Enough Driving Time? Above all else, a great trucking school will provide ample 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. Even though the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are important training methods, they are no substitute for actual driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. Although driving time can vary among schools, a reasonable standard is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish at least 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Lanett AL schools you are looking at and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It's possible to receive free or discounted training from certain truck driving schools if you make a commitment to drive for a specific 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 affiliations with many different trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only refer to one company. The benefit is receiving free or less expensive training by giving up the flexibility to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. 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 obtain affordable training. Just make sure to inquire if the Lanett AL schools you are contemplating are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there Onsite CDL Testing? There are several states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its grads. If onsite testing is available in Alabama, find out if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than contending with graduates of competing schools for test times at Alabama testing locations. It is moreover an indication that the DMV regards the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Convenient? As earlier noted, truck driver training is only about one to two months in length. With such a short term, it's essential that the Lanett AL school you enroll in provides 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 dedicate more time with you until you are proficient. 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 Assistance Provided? The moment you have attained your CDL license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be keen to begin your new profession. Make sure that the schools you are looking at have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement rate is and what average salary their grads 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 Lanett AL employers hiring their graduates, it might be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Trucking schools are similar to colleges and other Lanett AL area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. 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 must be completed.
Choose the Right Lanett Truck Driver Training
Picking the ideal trucking school is an essential first step to beginning your new profession as a long distance or local truck driver. The skills that you will learn at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are several options available and understanding them is vital if you are going to succeed as an operator. However, you must receive the proper 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 consider a captive school. You will pay a reduced or even no tuition by agreeing to drive 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 choice, or one of many associated with the school. It's your decision. But no matter how you receive your training, you will soon be part of a profession that helps America move as a professional trucker in Lanett Alabama.