How to Choose the Right CDL Training Classes near Moody Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a trucking school near Moody AL. Maybe it has always been your dream to hit the open highway while driving a monster tractor trailer. Or maybe you have conducted some research and have found that a career as a truck driver offers good pay and flexible job opportunities. No matter what your reason is, it's essential to get the appropriate training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are certain variables that you'll need to consider prior to making your ultimate selection. Location will no doubt be important, particularly if you have to commute from your Moody residence. The cost will also be of importance, but selecting a school based solely on price is not the optimal means to make sure you'll get the appropriate education. Just remember, your objective is to master the skills and knowledge that will allow you to pass the CDL exams and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that goal in mind, just how do you pick a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to address in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which CDL license you will ultimately need.
Which CDL Should You Get?
In order to drive commercial vehicles lawfully within Moody AL and throughout the USA, a driver must obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The three classes of licenses that a driver can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the subject of this article is how to choose a truck driver school, we will address Class A and 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 short descriptions of the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is required to drive 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 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. A few 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 require endorsements to drive specific types of vehicles, such as passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper needed endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to operate.
How to Research a Truck Driver School
Once you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you want to pursue, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating the Moody AL trucking schools that you are looking at. 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 variables, including the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally or even more important. So following are some additional things that you need to research while conducting your due diligence before enrolling in, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few truck driving schools in the Moody AL area are accredited due to the stringent process and cost to the schools. However, certification is more commonplace and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are a number of advantages. Interested students know that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will get plenty of driving time. For example, PTDI calls for 44 hours of actual driving time, not ride-alongs or simulations. So if a school's program is certified (the program, not the school is certified), students know that the training and curriculum will comply with the very high standards 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 business. A negatively rated or a fly by night school normally will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the top Moody AL schools had to begin from their first day of training, so use it as one of several qualifications. You can also find out what the school's history is regarding successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won't supply those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally have relationships with local and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only confirms an excellent reputation within the industry, but also bolsters their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn't hurt to check with the Alabama licensing department 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 must be licensed in Alabama and employ instructors that are experienced and trained. We will cover more about the instructors in the following section. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should not be greater than 4 to 1. If it's any higher, then students will not be obtaining the personalized instruction they will need. This is particularly true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And look out for any school that claims it can train you to be a truck driver in a relatively short time frame. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. The majority of Moody AL schools offer training courses that run from three weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Trainers? As previously mentioned, it's important that the instructors are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although several states have minimum driving time requirements to be certified as an instructor, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It's also vital that the teachers stay current with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing instructors might be a little more intuitive than other criteria, and possibly the ideal method is to check out the school and speak with the instructors in person. You can also speak with a few of the students completing the training and ask if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher's qualification 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 actual time spent behind the wheel driving a truck. Although the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are important training tools, they are no alternative 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 fluctuates between 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 Moody AL schools you are considering and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can obtain free or discounted training from certain truck driver schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a specified carrier for a defined amount of time. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than maintaining associations with many different trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only work with one company. The tradeoff is receiving less expensive or even free training by surrendering the freedom to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Obviously contract training has the potential to restrict your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the only way to get affordable training. Just make sure to find out if the Moody AL schools you are considering are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide Onsite CDL Testing? There are some states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is permitted 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 contending with graduates of competing schools for test times at Alabama testing facilities. It is moreover an indication that the DMV deems the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Flexible? As previously noted, truck driving training is only about 1 to 2 months in length. With such a short term, it's essential that the Moody AL school you choose offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. As an example, if you're having difficulty learning a certain driving maneuver, then the instructor should be prepared to commit more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you're still employed while going to training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Placement Provided? Once you have acquired your CDL license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be anxious to start your new career. Verify that the schools you are looking at have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking firms their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a low job placement rate or not many Moody AL employers hiring their grads, it may be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Truck driving schools are much like colleges and other Moody AL area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being available. Ask 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 submitted.
Enroll in the Right Moody Truck Driver Training
Choosing the right truck driver school is an essential first step to launching your new vocation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skill sets taught at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options offered and understanding them is vital to a new driver's success. However, you must obtain 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 may want 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 select an independent truck driver school and have the option of driving for the trucking firm of your choosing, or one of several associated with the school. It's your decision. But no matter how you receive your training, you will in the near future be entering a profession that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Moody Alabama.