How to Select the Best CDL Driving 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 fantasy to hit the open highway while operating a huge tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have done some analysis and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver offers excellent pay and flexible job prospects. No matter what your reason is, it's essential to receive the appropriate training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are several factors that you'll need to think about before making your ultimate selection. Location will certainly be an issue, particularly if you need to commute from your Moody home. The expense will also be of importance, but selecting a school based solely on price is not the optimal way to make certain you'll receive the right training. Just remember, your goal is to master the knowledge and skills that will enable you to pass the CDL exams and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that objective in mind, just how do you pick a truck driving school? That is what we are going to address in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which CDL license you will eventually need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Need?
To operate commercial vehicles lawfully within Moody AL and throughout the USA, an operator must obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The three classes of licenses that a person can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the subject of this article is how to select a truck driver 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 in addition to the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Following are short explanations of the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is needed to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of more 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 required to drive 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 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 require endorsements to drive specific types of vehicles, for example school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate needed endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to drive.
How to Research a Truck Driver School
After you have decided which CDL you wish to pursue, you can begin the process of evaluating the Moody AL trucking schools that you are considering. As already discussed, cost and location will undoubtedly be your primary concerns. But it can't be stressed enough that they should not be your sole concerns. Other issues, for example the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally or even more important. So following are a few additional points that you need to research while performing your due diligence before selecting, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many truck driving schools in the Moody 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 obligated to become certified, but there are several advantages. Interested students recognize that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will get lots of driving time. For example, PTDI calls for 44 hours of actual 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 curriculum and training will meet the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One clue to help determine the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in business. A negatively ranked or a fly by night school usually will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the top Moody AL schools had to start from their first day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifiers. You can also find out what the school's track record is relating to successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won't provide those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should also have associations with local and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only confirms a quality reputation within the industry, but also bolsters their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn't hurt to contact the Alabama licensing authority to verify that the CDL trucking schools you are reviewing are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Alabama and employ teachers that are trained and experienced. We will discuss more about the teachers in the following segment. Also, the student to instructor proportion should not be greater than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, then students will not be obtaining the individual 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 relatively short time period. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. Most Moody AL schools offer training courses that run from three weeks to as long as two months, depending on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Teachers? As previously mentioned, it's important that the teachers are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though several states have minimum driving time prerequisites to qualify as a teacher, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also crucial that the instructors stay up to date with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating teachers might be a bit more subjective than other standards, and perhaps the best method is to visit the school and speak with the teachers in person. You can also talk to some of the students going through the training and find out if they are happy with the quality of instruction and the teacher's qualification to train them.
Plenty of Driving Time? Most importantly, a good truck driver school will provide ample 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. Although 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 be. Although driving time can vary among 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. Check with the Moody AL schools you are researching and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It's possible to get free or discounted training from some trucking schools if you make a commitment to drive for a particular carrier for a defined amount of time. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So instead of maintaining affiliations with many different trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only refer to one company. The benefit is receiving free or less expensive training by giving up the freedom to initially work wherever you choose. Naturally contract training has the potential to limit your income opportunities when starting out. But for many it may be the only way to obtain affordable training. Just remember to ask if the Moody AL schools you are contemplating are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide Onsite CDL Testing? There are some states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its grads. If onsite testing is allowed in Alabama, find out if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than contending with graduates of competing schools for test times at Alabama testing facilities. It is also an indication that the DMV views the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Accessible? As formerly mentioned, CDL training is only about 1 to 2 months long. With such a brief duration, it's important that the Moody AL school you select offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. For example, if you're having a hard time learning a particular driving maneuver, then the teacher should be prepared to dedicate more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you're still working while going to training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Placement Offered? As soon as you have acquired your CDL license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be eager to start your new career. Make sure that the schools you are considering have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement rate is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking companies their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a poor job placement rate or few Moody AL employers hiring their graduates, it may be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid 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 aid being offered. Find out if the schools you are evaluating have a financial assistance department, or at least someone who can help you get through the options and forms that must be submitted.
Choose the Best Moody CDL Training
Selecting the right trucking school is a critical first step to beginning your new profession as a long distance or local truck driver. The skills taught at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options available and understanding them is vital if you are going to succeed as an operator. But first and foremost, you must obtain the proper training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are lacking money or financing, you may need to consider 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 several affiliated with the school. It's your decision. But regardless of how you receive your training, you will soon be joining an industry that helps America move as a professional trucker in Moody Alabama.