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How to Pick the Best Truck Driving Classes near Monroeville Alabama

Monroeville Alabama tractor trailer hauling payloadCongratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a CDL school near Monroeville AL. Maybe it has always been your goal to hit the open road while driving a monster tractor trailer. Or possibly you have done some research and have discovered that a career as a truck driver offers excellent wages and flexible work opportunities. Whatever your reason is, it's important to get the proper training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are certain factors that you'll need to examine prior to making your final selection. Location will undoubtedly be an issue, particularly if you have to commute from your Monroeville home. The cost will also be of importance, but selecting a school based entirely on price is not the best means to ensure you'll get the appropriate education. Just remember, your goal 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 purpose in mind, just how do you decide on a truck driving school? That is what we are going to cover in the rest of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which commercial driver's license you will ultimately need.

Which CDL Should You Get?

Monroeville Alabama truck driving down expressway

To operate commercial vehicles legally within Monroeville AL and throughout the USA, a driver must attain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The three license classes that a driver can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the subject of this article is how to select a truck driving school, we will address Class A and B licenses. What differentiates each class of CDL is the type of vehicle that the driver can operate together with 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 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 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 operate 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 may also need endorsements to operate specific kinds of vehicles, for instance school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate required endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to drive.

How to Research a Trucking School

Monroeville Alabama concrete mixer truck with flag paint job

After you have determined which CDL you want to obtain, you can begin the process of evaluating the Monroeville AL truck driving schools that you are looking at. As earlier mentioned, location and cost will no doubt be your primary concerns. But it can't be emphasized enough that they must not be your only considerations. Other factors, including the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly if not more important. So following are several additional points that you need to research while carrying out your due diligence prior to choosing, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.

Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few trucking schools in the Monroeville AL area are accredited due to the demanding process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more typical and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Prospective students recognize that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will get an ample amount of driving time. As an 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 curriculum and training will comply with the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.

How Long in Operation? One indicator to help evaluate the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in business. A poorly rated or a fly by night school typically will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the top Monroeville AL schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also learn what the school's track record is pertaining to successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won't supply those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain associations with regional and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only confirms an excellent reputation within the industry, but also bolsters their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn't hurt to check with the Alabama licensing authority to make sure that the CDL trucker schools you are considering are in good standing.

How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in Alabama and hire teachers that are experienced and trained. We will discuss more about the instructors in the next section. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it's any higher, then students will not be obtaining the personal attention they will need. This is especially true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And look out for any school that claims it can train you to drive trucks in a comparatively short time frame. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. The majority of Monroeville AL schools provide training courses that run from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the license class or type of vehicle.

How Experienced are the Teachers? As earlier mentioned, it's important that the instructors are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though several states have minimum driving time requirements to be certified as an instructor, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It's also vital that the instructors keep up to date with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating instructors might be a bit more subjective than other standards, and possibly the ideal method is to check out the school and talk to the instructors face to face. 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 qualification to train them.

Enough Driving Time? Above all else, an excellent truck driving school will provide ample driving time to its students. Besides, isn't that what it's all about? Driving time is the actual time spent behind the wheel driving a truck. Even though the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are essential training methods, they are no replacement for real driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will become. Although driving time differs among schools, a good standard is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Monroeville AL schools you are looking at and find out how much driving time they provide.

Are they Captive or Independent ? You can get free or discounted training from some trucking schools if you make a commitment to drive for a particular carrier for a defined time period. This is called contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than maintaining affiliations with many different trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only refer to one company. The tradeoff is receiving less expensive or even free training by giving up the flexibility to initially work wherever you choose. Obviously contract training has the potential to limit your income prospects when starting out. But for some it may be the only way to get affordable training. Just make sure to inquire if the Monroeville AL schools you are contemplating are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.

Provide CDL Testing Onsite? There are several states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its students. If onsite testing is allowed in Alabama, find out if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than battling with graduates from competing schools for test times at Alabama testing facilities. It is moreover an indication that the DMV considers the approved schools to be of a superior quality.

Are the Classes Accessible? As earlier mentioned, CDL training is only about 1 to 2 months in length. With such a brief term, it's important that the Monroeville AL school you choose provides flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. As an example, if you're having difficulty learning a particular driving maneuver, then the teacher should be prepared to devote more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you're still employed while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other obligations.

Is Job Assistance Provided? The moment you have received your commercial driver's license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be anxious to begin your new career. Verify that the schools you are considering have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement rate is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking firms their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a poor job placement rate or not many Monroeville AL employers recruiting their grads, it may be a clue to search elsewhere.

Is Financial Aid Given? Trucking schools are much like colleges and other Monroeville AL area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being available. Ask if the schools you are evaluating have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that need to be completed.

Find Out More About Monroeville Truck Driver Training Schools

Enroll in the Right Monroeville CDL Training

Picking the ideal truck driver school is an important first step to starting your new vocation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skills that you will learn at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are several options offered and understanding them is vital to a new driver's success. But first and foremost, you must get the necessary training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are short on money or financing, you may need to consider 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 CDL school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choice, or one of many associated with the school. It's your choice. But no matter how you get your training, you will soon be part of a profession that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Monroeville Alabama.

 

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