How to Select the Right Truck Driver School near Moores Mill Alabama
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a trucking school near Moores Mill AL. Maybe it has always been your ambition to hit the open road while operating a monster tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have conducted some analysis and have discovered that a career as a truck driver offers excellent wages and flexible job prospects. Whatever your reason is, it's important to obtain the proper training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are a number of factors that you'll need to examine prior to making your ultimate selection. Location will no doubt be important, especially if you have to commute from your Moores Mill home. The expense will also be of importance, but selecting a school based entirely on price is not the ideal way to ensure you'll receive the appropriate training. Just remember, your objective is to learn the skills and knowledge 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 discuss in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which CDL license you will eventually need.
Which CDL Will You Need?
To drive commercial vehicles legally within Moores Mill AL and throughout the United States, an operator needs to get a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The three license classes 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 driving school, we will address Class A and B licenses. What distinguishes 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). Below are short summaries for the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is required to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of more 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 CDL is required 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. 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 certain kinds of vehicles, such as school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate required endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to operate.
How to Assess a Truck Driving School
When you have decided which CDL you wish to obtain, you can begin the process of researching the Moores Mill AL truck driving schools that you are looking at. As earlier discussed, cost and location will certainly be your primary concerns. But it can't be stressed enough that they should not be your sole concerns. Other factors, for example the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally or even more important. So below are several more points that you should research while carrying out your due diligence before enrolling in, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few truck driver schools in the Moores Mill AL area are accredited due to the demanding process and expense to the schools. On the other hand, 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 certain advantages. Potential 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 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 measure up to the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One clue to help assess the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in business. A negatively rated or a fly by night school usually will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the top Moores Mill AL schools had to start from their first day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifiers. 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 share those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should also have relationships with local and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only affirms a quality reputation within the trade, but also boosts their job placement program for students. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to get in touch with the Alabama licensing department to make sure that the CDL trucker 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 experienced and trained. We will talk more about the teachers in the next segment. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should not be greater than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, then students will not be receiving the individual attention they will need. This is particularly 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 be a truck driver in a relatively short time period. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. Most Moores Mill AL schools offer training programs that run from three weeks to as long as two months, depending on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Teachers? As earlier mentioned, it's essential that the instructors are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though several states have minimum driving time criteria to be certified as a teacher, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also crucial that the instructors keep current with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating instructors might be a bit more subjective than other standards, and possibly the ideal approach is to pay a visit to the school and speak with the instructors face to face. You can also talk to a few of the students going through the training and ask if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher's qualification to train them.
Adequate Driving Time? Above all else, an excellent truck driver school will provide ample 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 essential training methods, they are no substitute for real driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. And even though driving time varies among schools, a good benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish no less than 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Moores Mill AL schools you are looking at and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can get discounted or even free training from a number of truck driver schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a particular carrier for a defined period of time. This is what's known as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than maintaining relationships with numerous 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 surrendering the flexibility to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Naturally contract training has the potential to limit your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the only way to get affordable training. Just be sure to inquire if the Moores Mill AL schools you are contemplating are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there Onsite CDL Testing? There are a number of states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its students. If onsite testing is allowed in Alabama, ask if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than contending with graduates from competing schools for test times at Alabama testing facilities. It is also an indication that the DMV considers the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Accessible? As formerly noted, truck driver training is just 1 to 2 months long. With such a brief duration, it's imperative that the Moores Mill AL school you select provides 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 willing to spend more time with you until you are proficient. And if you're still holding a job while going to training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Assistance Provided? The moment you have acquired your commercial driver's license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be eager to start your new career. Verify that the schools you are considering have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking firms their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a lower job placement rate or few Moores Mill AL employers recruiting their grads, it may be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Trucking schools are similar to colleges and other Moores Mill AL area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. Find out if the schools you are examining have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that need to be completed.
Choose the Best Moores Mill Truck Driver Training
Picking the appropriate truck driver school is an essential first step to launching your new profession as a local or long distance truck driver. The skill sets taught at school will be those that forge 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 drive a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are short on cash or financing, you might want to think about 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 trucking school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking firm of your choosing, or one of many associated with the school. It's your choice. But no matter how you receive your training, you will in the near future be part of a profession that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Moores Mill Alabama.