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How to Select the Best Truck Driving School near Opp Alabama

Opp Alabama tractor trailer carrying payloadCongrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a trucking school near Opp AL. Perhaps it has always been your ambition to hit the open road while operating a monster tractor trailer. Or maybe you have done some analysis and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver provides excellent wages and flexible job prospects. Regardless of what your reason is, it's essential to get the proper training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are various factors that you'll want to think about prior to making your ultimate choice. Location will no doubt be important, especially if you have to commute from your Opp home. The expense will also be important, but choosing a school based exclusively on price is not the ideal means to make certain you'll obtain the proper training. Just remember, your objective is to learn the skills and knowledge that will allow you to pass the CDL examinations and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that purpose in mind, just how do you choose a truck driving school? That is what we are going to discuss in the rest of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which CDL license you will ultimately need.

Which CDL Should You Get?

Opp Alabama truck driving down expressway

In order to drive commercial vehicles legally within Opp AL and throughout the United States, an operator needs to 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. Since the subject of this article is how to choose a truck driver school, we will highlight 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 descriptions of the two classes.

Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License 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 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 CDL is required to operate 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 Commercial Drivers Licenses might also require endorsements to operate specific types of vehicles, such as passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate required endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to operate.

How to Evaluate a CDL School

Opp Alabama cement mixer truck with patriotic paint job

After you have decided which CDL you would like to obtain, you can start the process of assessing the Opp AL truck driver schools that you are looking at. As previously mentioned, location and cost will undoubtedly be your initial concerns. But it can't be stressed enough that they should not be your only concerns. Other factors, including the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally if not more important. So following are a few additional points that you need to research while carrying out your due diligence before selecting, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.

Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many trucking schools in the Opp AL area are accredited because of the rigorous process and expense to the schools. However, certification is more common and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are a number of advantages. Interested students recognize that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will receive plenty of driving time. As an example, PTDI calls for 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 measure up to the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.

How Long in Operation? One indicator to help measure 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. However, even the best of Opp 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 track record is relating to successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won't supply those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should also have associations with regional and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only points to a superior reputation within the trade, but also bolsters their job placement program for students. It also wouldn't hurt to check with the Alabama licensing authority to confirm that the CDL trucker schools you are reviewing are in compliance.

How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Alabama and employ instructors that are trained and experienced. We will talk more about the teachers in the following section. Also, the student to instructor proportion should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, then students will not be receiving the personal instruction they will need. This is particularly true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And watch out for any school that professes it can teach you to drive trucks in a comparatively short period of time. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. Most Opp AL schools provide training programs that run from three weeks to as long as two months, depending on the class of license or type of vehicle.

How Good are the Teachers? As already mentioned, it's important that the teachers are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though several states have minimum driving time prerequisites to be certified as an instructor, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It's also important that the teachers stay current with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating instructors might be a bit more subjective than other criteria, and perhaps the ideal method is to check out the school and talk to the instructors in person. You can also speak with some of the students completing the training and find out if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher's qualification to train them.

Plenty of Driving Time? Above all else, a great truck driver school will furnish 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 operating a truck. While the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are essential training tools, they are no alternative for actual driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. Although driving time differs 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. Get in touch with the Opp AL schools you are researching and find out how much driving time they furnish.

Are they Independent or Captive ? It's possible to receive discounted or even free training from a number of truck driver schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a particular carrier for a defined period of time. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of maintaining relationships with numerous 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. Clearly contract training has the potential to reduce your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the best way to get affordable training. Just make sure to inquire if the Opp AL schools you are contemplating are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.

Provide CDL Testing Onsite? There are a number of states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is available in Alabama, find out if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than battling with graduates of other schools for test times at Alabama testing facilities. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV regards the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.

Are the Class Times Convenient? As previously mentioned, CDL training is just one to two months long. With such a brief term, it's important that the Opp AL school you choose offers flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. For example, if you're having a hard time learning a certain driving maneuver, then the teacher should be prepared to spend more time with you until you are proficient. And if you're still holding a job while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other obligations.

Is Job Placement Offered? As soon as you have received your commercial driver's license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be anxious to begin your new career. Confirm that the schools you are reviewing have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking companies their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a low job placement rate or few Opp AL employers hiring their grads, it might be a clue to look elsewhere.

Is Financial Assistance Offered? Truck driving schools are comparable to colleges and other Opp AL area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Find out if the schools you are examining have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you get through the options and forms that need to be completed.

Learn More About Opp Trucker Classes

Enroll in the Right Opp CDL Training

Picking the right trucking school is a critical first step to beginning 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 many options available and understanding them is vital to a new driver's success. But first and foremost, you must get the proper training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are lacking money 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 firm of your choosing, or one of many affiliated with the school. It's your choice. But no matter how you get your training, you will in the near future be joining a profession that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Opp Alabama.

 

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