How to Pick the Best Truck Driving Classes near Pleasant Grove Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a truck driving school near Pleasant Grove AL. Perhaps it has always been your ambition to hit the open highway while operating a huge tractor trailer. Or possibly you have done some analysis and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver offers excellent pay and flexible job opportunities. No matter what your reason is, it's essential to receive the proper training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are certain factors that you'll need to examine prior to making your ultimate selection. Location will undoubtedly be important, particularly if you need to commute from your Pleasant Grove home. The cost will also be of importance, but selecting a school based solely on price is not the ideal way to make sure you'll get the proper training. Don't forget, your goal is to learn the knowledge and skills 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 choose a truck driving school? That is what we are going to cover in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which commercial driver's license you will eventually need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Should You Get?
To drive commercial vehicles lawfully within Pleasant Grove AL and throughout the USA, a driver must attain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The three classes of licenses that a person can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the subject of this article is how to pick a truck driving school, we will discuss Class A and Class B licenses. What differentiates 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). 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 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 needed to operate 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. 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 certain types of vehicles, including school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper required endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to operate.
How to Evaluate a Trucking School
Once you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you wish to pursue, you can start the process of researching the Pleasant Grove AL truck driver schools that you are looking at. As already discussed, cost and location will certainly be your primary considerations. But it can't be stressed enough that they must not be your sole concerns. Other factors, for example the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly if not more important. So below are a few additional things that you should research while performing your due diligence prior to choosing, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few trucking schools in the Pleasant Grove AL area are accredited because of the demanding process and expense to the schools. However, certification is more common 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 recognize that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will be given an ample amount of driving time. For example, PTDI mandates 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 benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help determine the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively ranked or a fly by night school typically will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the best of Pleasant Grove AL schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifiers. You can also learn what the school's track record is concerning successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won't provide those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain relationships with local and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only affirms a superior reputation within the industry, but also bolsters their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to check with the Alabama licensing department to make sure that the CDL trucking 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 trained and experienced. We will talk more about the instructors in the next segment. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it's any higher, then students will not be receiving the personalized attention 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 professes it can teach you to drive trucks in a relatively short period of time. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. The majority of Pleasant Grove AL schools provide training programs that range from 3 weeks to as long as two months, depending on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Instructors? As earlier stated, it's essential that the instructors are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although a number of states have minimum driving time criteria to qualify as an instructor, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also important that the instructors stay up to date with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating teachers may be a bit more intuitive than other criteria, and perhaps the ideal method is to check out the school and talk to the teachers face to face. You can also speak with a few of the students going through the training and ask if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.
Sufficient Driving Time? Most importantly, 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 actual time spent behind the wheel driving a truck. Even though the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are essential training tools, they are no replacement for real driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. Although driving time varies between schools, a reasonable benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Pleasant Grove AL schools you are looking at and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can obtain free or discounted training from some truck driver schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a specified carrier for a defined time period. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So rather than having associations with many different trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only work with one company. The benefit 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 starting out. But for many it may be the only way to obtain affordable training. Just make sure to inquire if the Pleasant Grove AL schools you are considering are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there CDL Testing Onsite? There are some states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is available in Alabama, ask if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than competing with graduates from other schools for test times at Alabama testing locations. It is also an indication that the DMV deems the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Accessible? As formerly noted, CDL training is only about one to two months in length. With such a short duration, it's essential that the Pleasant Grove AL school you choose provides flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. For example, if you're having a hard time learning a certain driving maneuver, then the teacher should be willing to devote more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you're still holding a job while attending training, then the class scheduling must 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 anxious to start your new career. Confirm that the schools you are looking at have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking companies their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a low job placement rate or few Pleasant Grove AL employers recruiting their grads, it might be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Truck driver schools are comparable to colleges and other Pleasant Grove 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 examining have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that must be submitted.
Choose the Best Pleasant Grove Truck Driver Training
Selecting the appropriate truck driver school is a critical 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 many options available and understanding them is crucial to a new driver's success. But first and foremost, you must obtain the proper training in order to drive a large 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 in some cases no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can choose an independent trucker school and have the option of driving for the trucking firm of your choice, 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 joining a profession that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Pleasant Grove Alabama.