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How to Find the Right Truck Driver Classes near Pike Road Alabama

Pike Road Alabama tractor trailer hauling cargoCongratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a trucking school near Pike Road AL. Maybe it has always been your goal to hit the open road while driving a monster tractor trailer. Or possibly you have conducted some research and have found that a career as a truck driver offers good income and flexible work prospects. Regardless of what your reason is, it's important to obtain the proper training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are a number of factors that you'll want to consider prior to making your ultimate selection. Location will no doubt be important, particularly if you need to commute from your Pike Road home. The cost will also be important, but picking a school based entirely on price is not the best way to make certain you'll receive the appropriate training. Don't forget, your objective is to learn the skills and knowledge that will enable you to pass the CDL exams and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that target in mind, just how do you select 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 Require?

Pike Road Alabama truck driving down road

To operate commercial vehicles lawfully within Pike Road AL and throughout the United States, a driver must attain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The 3 classes of licenses that a driver can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the topic of this article is how to select a truck driver school, we will highlight Class A and B licenses. What differentiates 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 brief explanations for the two classes.

Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is required to operate 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 needed to drive single vehicles having a GVWR of more than 26,000 lbs., or a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs. including a towed vehicle weighing up to 10,000 lbs. Several 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 may also require endorsements to operate specific types of vehicles, for instance 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 operate.

How to Assess a Truck Driver School

Pike Road Alabama cement truck with patriotic paint job

When you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you wish to obtain, you can start the undertaking of assessing the Pike Road AL trucking schools that you are looking at. As previously mentioned, location and cost will undoubtedly be your primary concerns. But it can't be stressed enough that they should not be your sole concerns. Other factors, including the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly or even more important. So following are some more factors that you should research while performing your due diligence before enrolling in, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.

Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few truck driving schools in the Pike Road AL area are accredited because of the rigorous process and expense to the schools. On the other hand, 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. Potential students recognize that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will be given plenty of driving time. As an example, PTDI mandates 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 fulfill the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.

How Long in Business? 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 normally will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the best of Pike Road AL schools had to begin from their first day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also find out what the school's history is relating to successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won't share those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally have relationships with local and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only confirms a superior reputation within the trade, but also boosts their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to contact the Alabama licensing department to make sure that the CDL trucking schools you are researching are in compliance.

How Good 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 instructors in the following section. Also, the student to instructor proportion should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it's any higher, 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 insists it can train you to drive trucks in a relatively short time frame. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. Most Pike Road AL schools offer training programs that range from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the license class or kind of vehicle.

How Good are the Instructors? As previously mentioned, it's essential that the teachers are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. 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 important that the instructors stay current with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing teachers may be a bit more intuitive than other standards, and possibly the best approach is to check out the school and speak with the teachers face to face. You can also talk to a few of the students completing the training and ask if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.

Adequate Driving Time? Most importantly, a great trucking school will provide sufficient 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 operating a truck. Even though the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are important training tools, they are no replacement for actual driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will become. And even though driving time can vary among schools, a reasonable standard 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 Pike Road AL schools you are considering and ask how much driving time they furnish.

Are they Independent or Captive ? It's possible to get free or discounted training from some truck driver schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a specific carrier for a defined time period. 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 place their graduates with, captives only work with one company. The tradeoff is receiving free or less expensive training by giving up the flexibility to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Obviously contract training has the potential to limit your income opportunities when starting out. But for some it may be the only way to receive affordable training. Just remember to ask if the Pike Road AL schools you are contemplating are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.

Is there CDL Testing Onsite? There are several states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its graduates. 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 contending with graduates of competing schools for test times at Alabama testing centers. It is also an indication that the DMV considers the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.

Are the Classes Flexible? As formerly mentioned, CDL training is only about 1 to 2 months long. With such a brief duration, it's essential that the Pike Road AL school you select provides flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. As an 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 have it mastered. And if you're still employed while going to training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other obligations.

Is Job Placement Provided? Once you have obtained your commercial driver's license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be anxious to start your new profession. Confirm that the schools you are considering have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking companies their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a poor job placement rate or not many Pike Road AL employers recruiting their grads, it might be a clue to search elsewhere.

Is Financial Assistance Offered? Trucking schools are much like colleges and other Pike Road AL area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance 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 submitted.

Find Out More About Pike Road Trucking Schools

Choose the Best Pike Road Truck Driver Training

Selecting the appropriate trucking school is an important first step to beginning your new occupation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skill sets that you will learn at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are several options offered and understanding them is vital if you are going to succeed as an operator. However, you must obtain the proper training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are short on cash or financing, you may need 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 choose an independent truck driving school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choice, or one of several associated with the school. It's your decision. But regardless of how you get your training, you will in the near future be joining a profession that helps America move as a professional trucker in Pike Road Alabama.

 

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