How to Find the Right Truck Driver School near Pleasant Grove Alabama
Congrats 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 fantasy to hit the open road while operating a big ole tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have done some research and have discovered that a career as a truck driver offers excellent wages and flexible work prospects. Whatever your reason is, it's important to obtain the proper training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are various variables 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 Pleasant Grove home. The cost will also be important, but picking a school based solely on price is not the best method to guarantee you'll get the appropriate training. Just remember, your goal is to learn the knowledge and skills that will enable you to pass the CDL exams and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that objective 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 talk a little bit about which CDL license you will eventually need.
Which CDL Should You Get?
To operate commercial vehicles legally within Pleasant Grove AL and throughout the United States, a driver must get a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The three classes of licenses that one can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the subject of this article is how to choose a truck driving school, we will address Class A and Class B licenses. What differentiates each class of CDL is the type of vehicle that the driver can operate together with the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Below are brief descriptions of the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is needed to operate any vehicle that has a GCWR of greater than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of more than 10,000 lbs. A few 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 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 may also require endorsements to operate specific types of vehicles, such as passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate required endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to operate.
How to Evaluate a Trucking School
When you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you wish to obtain, you can begin the undertaking of researching the Pleasant Grove AL truck driver schools that you are considering. As already mentioned, cost and location will undoubtedly be your initial concerns. But it can't be emphasized enough that they must not be your only concerns. Other variables, such as the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly if not more important. So following are a few more factors that you should research while conducting your due diligence prior to choosing, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many truck driver schools in the Pleasant Grove AL area are accredited because of the rigorous process and expense to the schools. However, certification is more prevalent and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are several advantages. Interested students know that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will receive lots of driving time. For example, PTDI mandates 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 curriculum and training will measure up to the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One indicator to help evaluate the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in business. A poorly rated or a fly by night school usually will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the top Pleasant Grove AL schools had to start from their first day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifiers. You can also learn what the school's track record is pertaining to successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won't supply those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally have relationships with regional and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only affirms a superior reputation within the profession, but also bolsters their job placement program for students. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to get in touch with the Alabama licensing authority to confirm that the CDL trucking schools you are considering are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in Alabama and hire teachers that are trained and experienced. We will cover more about the instructors in the next segment. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should not be greater than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, then students will not be getting the personal instruction they will need. This is particularly true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And watch out for any school that claims it can train you to drive trucks in a relatively short period of time. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. The majority of Pleasant Grove AL schools offer training programs that range from three weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Trainers? As earlier stated, it's imperative that the teachers are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though several states have minimum driving time criteria to qualify as an instructor, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also vital that the instructors keep current with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing teachers may be a bit more subjective than other criteria, and possibly the best approach is to pay a visit to the school and talk to the instructors in person. You can also talk to a few of the students going through the training and find out if they are happy with the quality of instruction and the teacher's qualification to train them.
How Much Driving Time? Above all else, an excellent truck driving school will furnish plenty 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 operating a truck. Although the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are essential training tools, they are no replacement for real driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. Although driving time differs 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 Pleasant Grove AL schools you are researching and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It's possible to receive free or discounted training from certain trucking schools if you make a commitment to be a driver for a particular carrier for a defined period of time. This is called contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of having 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 work wherever you have an opportunity. Naturally contract training has the potential to limit your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the ideal way to obtain affordable training. Just remember to inquire if the Pleasant Grove AL schools you are considering are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer Onsite CDL Testing? There are some states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its students. If onsite testing is permitted in Alabama, find out if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to offer it. One benefit is that it is more convenient than contending with graduates of competing schools for test times at Alabama testing locations. It is also an indication that the DMV views the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Accessible? As formerly mentioned, truck driving training is only about 1 to 2 months in length. With such a short term, it's important that the Pleasant Grove AL school you enroll in 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 instructor should be prepared 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 needs to be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Placement Offered? The moment you have received your commercial driver's license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be eager to begin your new career. Verify that the schools you are looking at have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement rate is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking companies their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a lower job placement rate or few Pleasant Grove AL employers recruiting their graduates, it may be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Truck driver schools are comparable to colleges and other Pleasant Grove AL area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being offered. Ask if the schools you are assessing have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you understand the options and forms that must be completed.
Choose the Right Pleasant Grove Truck Driver Training
Picking the right trucking school is an essential 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 mold a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options available and understanding them is vital if you are going to succeed as an operator. But first and foremost, you must receive the proper training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are short on cash or financing, you might need to think about a captive school. You will pay a lower or even no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can enroll in an independent CDL school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking firm of your choosing, or one of many affiliated with the school. It's your choice. But regardless of how you obtain 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.