How to Select the Best Truck Driving Classes near Meadowbrook Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a truck driving school near Meadowbrook AL. Perhaps it has always been your fantasy to hit the open highway while driving a huge tractor trailer. Or possibly you have done some research and have discovered that a career as a truck driver provides good wages and flexible work opportunities. No matter what your reason is, it's important to get the proper training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are a number of variables that you'll want to consider prior to making your ultimate selection. Location will undoubtedly be an issue, particularly if you need to commute from your Meadowbrook residence. The cost will also be important, but choosing a school based exclusively on price is not the optimal means to make sure you'll receive the proper education. Just remember, your goal is to learn the knowledge and skills that will allow you to pass the CDL examinations and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that goal in mind, just how do you select 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 Commercial Drivers License Should You Get?
To drive commercial vehicles legally within Meadowbrook AL and throughout the USA, a driver must get a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The three classes of licenses that one can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the subject of this article is how to pick a truck driving school, we will address Class A and Class B licenses. What distinguishes 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). Following are brief descriptions of the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is required to operate 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 needed 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. 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 drive certain types of vehicles, including school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper needed endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to drive.
How to Evaluate a Truck Driver School
After you have decided which CDL you would like to obtain, you can begin the process of researching the Meadowbrook AL truck driving schools that you are considering. As already discussed, location and cost will no doubt be your primary concerns. But it can't be emphasized enough that they must not be your sole concerns. Other issues, for example the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally if not more important. So following are a few more things that you should research while performing your due diligence prior to enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many truck driving schools in the Meadowbrook AL area are accredited due to the rigorous 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 certain advantages. Potential students know that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will receive lots of driving time. As an example, PTDI requires 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 meet the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One indicator to help assess the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in business. A negatively rated or a fly by night school typically will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the best of Meadowbrook AL schools had to begin from their first day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifications. You can also ask what the school's history is pertaining to successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won't supply those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally have relationships with regional and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only points to an excellent reputation within the profession, but also boosts their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to get in touch with the Alabama licensing authority to verify that the CDL trucking schools you are considering are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in Alabama and employ teachers that are experienced and trained. We will discuss more about the teachers in the following section. Also, the student to instructor proportion should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, then students will not be receiving the individual 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 train you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short time frame. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. Most Meadowbrook AL schools provide training programs that range from three weeks to as long as two months, depending on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Trainers? As already stated, it's essential that the instructors are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time requirements to qualify as a teacher, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also important that the instructors stay up to date with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing teachers might be a bit more intuitive than other standards, and perhaps the ideal method is to pay a visit to the school and talk to the instructors in person. You can also talk to some of the students going through the training and find out if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.
How Much Driving Time? Most importantly, a great truck driver school will provide 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 operating a truck. Even though the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are necessary training methods, they are no replacement for actual driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he 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 furnish at least 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Meadowbrook AL schools you are researching and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It's possible to get free or discounted training from certain truck driving schools if you make a commitment to drive for a particular carrier for a defined period of time. This is called contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than having relationships with many different trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only work with one company. The tradeoff is receiving less expensive or even free training by surrendering the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Naturally contract training has the potential to reduce your income opportunities when starting out. But for some it may be the ideal way to receive affordable training. Just make sure to find out if the Meadowbrook AL schools you are considering are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide Onsite CDL Testing? There are a number of states that will permit 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 benefit is that it is more convenient than contending with graduates from other schools for test times at Alabama testing locations. It is also an indication that the DMV believes the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Flexible? As formerly mentioned, CDL training is just one to two months long. With such a brief duration, it's imperative that the Meadowbrook AL school you choose offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. For example, if you're having difficulty learning a certain driving maneuver, then the instructor should be prepared to dedicate more time with you until you are proficient. And if you're still employed while going to training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Placement Provided? The moment you have acquired your CDL license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be keen to begin your new profession. Verify that the schools you are considering have job placement programs. Find out 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 lower job placement rate or not many Meadowbrook AL employers hiring their graduates, it might be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Trucking schools are comparable to colleges and other Meadowbrook AL area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Ask if the schools you are evaluating have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you get through the options and forms that must be completed.
Choose the Right Meadowbrook Truck Driver Training
Choosing the ideal trucking school is an essential first step to starting your new vocation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skill sets that you will learn at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are several options offered and understanding them is crucial to a new driver's success. But first and foremost, you must get the appropriate training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are short on funds or financing, you might need 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 enroll in an independent trucker school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking company of your choice, or one of many affiliated with the school. It's your choice. But regardless of how you get your training, you will soon be entering an industry that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Meadowbrook Alabama.