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How to Select the Right Trucking Classes near Pleasant Grove Alabama

Pleasant Grove Alabama tractor trailer hauling payloadCongrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a truck driving school near Pleasant Grove AL. Maybe it has always been your dream to hit the open highway while operating a big ole tractor trailer. Or possibly you have done some research and have found that a career as a truck driver offers excellent income and flexible work opportunities. Whatever your reason is, it's imperative to receive the proper training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are various variables that you'll want to think about before making your ultimate selection. Location will no doubt be an issue, especially if you have to commute from your Pleasant Grove residence. The expense will also be important, but selecting a school based exclusively on price is not the ideal method to make sure you'll get the proper training. Don't forget, your goal is to master the skills and knowledge that will enable you to pass the CDL examinations and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that objective in mind, just how do you choose a truck driving school? The answer to that question 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?

Pleasant Grove Alabama truck traveling down road

To drive commercial vehicles legally within Pleasant Grove AL and throughout the USA, an operator must get a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The three classes of licenses that one can qualify 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 B licenses. What distinguishes 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 brief summaries 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 greater than 10,000 lbs. Some 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 Commercial Drivers License is required to operate 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. 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 CDLs might also need endorsements to drive certain types of vehicles, including passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate required endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to operate.

How to Evaluate a Truck Driving School

Pleasant Grove Alabama cement mixer truck with patriotic paint job

As soon as you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you wish to obtain, you can start the process of evaluating the Pleasant Grove AL truck driver schools that you are considering. As previously discussed, location and cost will undoubtedly be your initial considerations. But it can't be emphasized enough that they should not be your only concerns. Other factors, for instance the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally or even more important. So following are several more points that you need to research while conducting your due diligence before enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.

Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many trucking schools in the Pleasant Grove AL area are accredited because of the rigorous process and cost 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 a number of advantages. Prospective students know that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will receive plenty of driving time. As an example, PTDI requires 44 hours of actual 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 training and curriculum will comply with the very high standards set by PTDI.

How Long in Business? One clue to help assess the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly rated or a fly by night school normally will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the best of Pleasant Grove AL schools had to begin from their first day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also ask what the school's history is concerning successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won't provide those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should also maintain associations with regional and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only confirms a superior reputation within the profession, but also boosts their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to contact the Alabama licensing authority to verify that the CDL trucker schools you are considering are in good standing.

How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Alabama and hire teachers that are trained and experienced. We will discuss more about the teachers in the following segment. Also, the student to instructor ratio should not be greater than 4 to 1. If it's any higher, then students will not be obtaining the personal instruction 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 claims it can teach you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short time period. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. Most Pleasant Grove AL schools provide training courses that run from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the license class or kind of vehicle.

How Experienced are the Trainers? As previously mentioned, it's important that the instructors are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though a number of 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 vital that the teachers keep current with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing teachers might be a little more intuitive than other standards, and possibly the ideal method is to check out the school and talk to the teachers in person. You can also speak with some of the students going through the training and ask if they are satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.

Plenty of Driving Time? Most importantly, an excellent truck driver school will furnish lots of 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. While the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are necessary training tools, they are no alternative for actual driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. Although driving time fluctuates among schools, a reasonable standard is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Pleasant Grove AL schools you are considering and ask how much driving time they furnish.

Are they Independent or Captive ? It's possible to get discounted or even free training from a number of truck driver schools if you make a commitment to drive for a specified carrier for a defined amount of time. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of having affiliations with numerous trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only work with one company. The benefit is receiving free or less expensive training by giving up the freedom to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Clearly contract training has the potential to restrict your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the ideal way to receive affordable training. Just be sure to find out if the Pleasant Grove AL schools you are considering are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.

Is there Onsite CDL Testing? There are some states that will permit third 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 benefit is that it is more convenient than battling with graduates of competing schools for test times at Alabama testing facilities. It is also an indication that the DMV regards the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.

Are the Classes Convenient? As earlier noted, CDL training is only about 1 to 2 months in length. With such a brief term, it's imperative that the Pleasant Grove AL school you enroll in offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. As an example, if you're having a hard time learning a particular driving maneuver, then the teacher should be willing to devote more time with you until you are proficient. And if you're still holding a job while going to training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other commitments.

Is Job Placement Provided? Once you have received your commercial driver's license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be keen to start your new career. Make sure that the schools you are contemplating have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking companies their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a low job placement rate or not many Pleasant Grove AL employers recruiting their grads, it may be a sign to search elsewhere.

Is Financial Aid Offered? Trucking schools are much like colleges and other Pleasant Grove AL area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you understand the options and forms that need to be completed.

Learn More About Pleasant Grove Truck Driver Classes

Choose the Best Pleasant Grove Truck Driver Training

Picking the appropriate trucking school is an important first step to launching your new profession as a local or long distance truck driver. The skill sets that you will learn at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options available and understanding them is critical to a new driver's success. However, you must obtain the appropriate training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are short on cash or financing, you might 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 enroll in an independent truck driving school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking firm of your choice, or one of many affiliated with the school. It's your decision. But regardless of how you receive your training, you will in the near future be entering a profession that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Pleasant Grove Alabama.

 

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