How to Pick the Best Truck Driving Classes near Meadowbrook Alabama
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a truck driving school near Meadowbrook AL. Maybe it has always been your dream to hit the open road while driving a big ole tractor trailer. Or maybe you have conducted some analysis and have found that a career as a truck driver offers good wages and flexible work prospects. Regardless of what your reason is, it's important to receive the proper training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are certain variables that you'll want to think about prior to making your final selection. Location will certainly be important, especially if you have to commute from your Meadowbrook home. The cost will also be of importance, but picking a school based exclusively on price is not the ideal means to make certain you'll get the proper education. Just remember, your objective is to learn the knowledge and skills that will allow you to pass the CDL examinations and become a professional 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 balance of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which CDL license you will ultimately need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Require?
To drive commercial vehicles legally within Meadowbrook AL and throughout the USA, a driver needs to get a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The 3 classes of licenses that a driver can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the subject of this article is how to pick a truck driving 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 brief descriptions for the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is needed to drive 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 Commercial Drivers License is needed to drive 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 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 CDLs might also require endorsements to operate certain types of vehicles, for example school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper needed endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to operate.
How to Research a CDL School
When you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you would like to obtain, you can begin the process of assessing the Meadowbrook AL truck driving schools that you are considering. As previously mentioned, cost and location will no doubt be your primary concerns. But it can't be emphasized enough that they must not be your only concerns. Other issues, for example 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 should research while carrying out your due diligence before selecting, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few trucking schools in the Meadowbrook AL area are accredited due to the demanding process and cost to the schools. However, certification is more prevalent and is offered 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 quality, and that they will receive an ample amount of driving time. For 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 training and curriculum will fulfill the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One indicator to help measure the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively ranked or a fly by night school normally will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the best of Meadowbrook AL schools had to begin from their first day of training, so use it as one of several qualifiers. You can also ask what the school's track record is relating to successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won't supply those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally have associations with local and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only confirms an excellent reputation within the trade, 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 Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should 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 ratio 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 regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And watch out for any school that professes it can train you to drive trucks in a relatively short period of time. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. Most Meadowbrook AL schools provide training programs that range from 3 weeks to as long as two months, based on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Trainers? As earlier mentioned, it's imperative that the teachers are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although a number of states have minimum driving time prerequisites to qualify as a teacher, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It's also crucial that the teachers keep current with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating instructors may be a bit more subjective than other standards, and perhaps the best approach is to pay a visit to the school and talk to the instructors face to face. You can also speak with some of the students completing the training and find out if they are satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.
Sufficient Driving Time? Most importantly, a good truck driving school will provide plenty of 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 driving a truck. Although the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are necessary training tools, they are no substitute for real driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. Although driving time can vary among schools, a reasonable standard is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide at least 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Meadowbrook AL schools you are researching and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can obtain discounted or even free training from a number of truck driver schools if you make a commitment to drive for a particular carrier for a defined period of time. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of maintaining relationships with a wide range of trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only work with one company. The tradeoff is receiving free or less expensive training by giving up the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Clearly contract training has the potential to restrict your income opportunities when starting out. But for many it may be the ideal way to obtain affordable training. Just make sure to find out if the Meadowbrook AL schools you are contemplating are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide Onsite CDL Testing? There are a number of states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its grads. If onsite testing is permitted in Alabama, find out if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than competing with graduates from other schools for test times at Alabama testing facilities. It is also an indication that the DMV believes the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Accessible? As previously noted, truck driving training is just 1 to 2 months in length. With such a brief term, it's imperative that the Meadowbrook AL school you choose provides flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. As an example, if you're having a hard time learning a certain driving maneuver, then the teacher should be willing to spend more time with you until you are proficient. And if you're still holding a job while attending training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Placement Offered? Once you have acquired your CDL license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be anxious to begin your new profession. Make sure that the schools you are reviewing have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement rate is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking firms their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a low job placement rate or few Meadowbrook AL employers recruiting their graduates, it might be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Given? 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 offered. Find out if the schools you are examining have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that need to be submitted.
Enroll in the Best Meadowbrook Truck Driver Training
Picking the ideal truck driving school is an essential first step to starting your new profession as a local or long distance truck driver. The skills that you will learn at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options available and understanding them is crucial if you are going to succeed as an operator. But first and foremost, you must receive the appropriate training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are lacking funds or financing, you might want to look into a captive school. You will pay a reduced or even no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can enroll in an independent truck driver school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choosing, or one of many affiliated with the school. It's your decision. But regardless of how you get your training, you will soon be entering a profession that helps America move as a professional trucker in Meadowbrook Alabama.