How to Choose the Right Trucker Classes near Millbrook Alabama
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a truck driving school near Millbrook AL. Perhaps it has always been your goal to hit the open road while driving a monster tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have conducted some research and have found that a career as a truck driver offers good wages and flexible job opportunities. No matter what your reason is, it's important to obtain the appropriate training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are various 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 Millbrook residence. The cost will also be of importance, but selecting a school based solely on price is not the best method to make sure you'll receive the proper training. Don't forget, 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 target in mind, just how do you select a truck driving school? That is what we are going to discuss in the balance of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which CDL license you will ultimately need.
Which CDL Will You Require?
In order to operate commercial vehicles lawfully within Millbrook AL and throughout the United States, an operator must get a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The three classes of licenses that one can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the topic of this article is how to pick a truck driver school, we will discuss Class A and Class B licenses. What differentiates each class of CDL is the type 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 for the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is required to operate any vehicle that has a GCWR of greater 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 Commercial Drivers License is required to drive single vehicles having a GVWR of greater than 26,000 lbs., or a GCWR of greater than 26,000 lbs. including a towed vehicle weighing up to 10,000 lbs. A few 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 CDLs might also need endorsements to operate specific types of vehicles, for instance passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate needed endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to drive.
How to Research a Truck Driver School
After you have determined which CDL you want to obtain, you can begin the process of evaluating the Millbrook AL truck driving schools that you are looking at. As already mentioned, cost and location will undoubtedly be your primary concerns. But it can't be emphasized enough that they must not be your sole considerations. Other issues, for instance the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally or even more important. So below are some more factors that you need to research while performing your due diligence prior to selecting, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few trucking schools in the Millbrook AL area are accredited because of the rigorous 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 several advantages. Prospective students know that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will receive lots of driving time. As an example, PTDI mandates 44 hours of real 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 training and curriculum will fulfill the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help assess the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in business. A poorly ranked or a fly by night school normally will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the top Millbrook AL schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also find out what the school's history is concerning successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won't share those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally have relationships with local and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only affirms a quality reputation within the trade, but also boosts their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to contact the Alabama licensing department to confirm that the CDL trucking schools you are reviewing are in good standing.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Alabama and hire teachers that are trained and experienced. We will talk more about the teachers in the next section. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should be no higher than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, 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 watch out for any school that insists it can teach you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short period of time. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. The majority of Millbrook AL schools offer training courses that run from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Trainers? As already stated, it's essential that the teachers are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although several states have minimum driving time criteria to be certified as a teacher, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also crucial that the teachers stay current with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing teachers may be a little more intuitive than other standards, and perhaps the best approach is to pay a visit to the school and talk to the teachers face to face. You can also speak with some 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.
Enough Driving Time? Above all else, an excellent truck driver school will furnish sufficient 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. Even though the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are essential training tools, they are no substitute for actual driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. 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 provide no less than 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Millbrook AL schools you are looking at and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It's possible to obtain discounted or even free training from certain truck driver schools if you make a commitment to be a driver for a specified carrier for a defined period of time. This is called contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of having affiliations with a wide range of 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 have an opportunity. Clearly contract training has the potential to limit your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the best way to obtain affordable training. Just remember to inquire if the Millbrook AL schools you are considering 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 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its students. If onsite testing is available in Alabama, find out if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than battling with graduates from competing schools for test times at Alabama testing centers. It is also an indication that the DMV deems the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Accessible? As formerly noted, CDL training is only about 1 to 2 months in length. With such a short term, it's essential that the Millbrook AL school you select 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 devote more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you're still holding a job while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Assistance Offered? As soon as you have attained your commercial driver's license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be eager to begin your new career. Confirm that the schools you are looking at have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking firms their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a low job placement rate or not many Millbrook AL employers hiring their grads, it might be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? Truck driver schools are much like colleges and other Millbrook AL area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you understand the options and forms that need to be completed.
Enroll in the Best Millbrook CDL Training
Selecting the right truck driving school is an important first step to starting your new profession as a long distance or local truck driver. The skill sets taught at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are many options available and understanding them is crucial to a new driver's success. However, you must get the proper training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are lacking cash or financing, you may need to look into a captive school. You will pay a reduced or in some cases no tuition in exchange for driving 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 choice, or one of several affiliated with the school. It's your choice. But regardless of how you receive your training, you will in the near future be entering a profession that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Millbrook Alabama.