How to Pick the Right Truck Driving Classes near Rainbow City Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a truck driving school near Rainbow City AL. Maybe it has always been your goal to hit the open highway while driving a monster tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have done some research and have found that an occupation as a truck driver offers excellent wages and flexible work prospects. No matter what your reason is, it's imperative to get the appropriate training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are several factors that you'll need to consider prior to making your final choice. Location will certainly be an issue, particularly if you have to commute from your Rainbow City home. The cost will also be important, but picking a school based only on price is not the best means to make sure you'll get the appropriate education. Don't forget, your goal is to learn the skills and knowledge that will allow you to pass the CDL examinations and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that purpose in mind, just how do you select a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to discuss 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 CDL Will You Need?
To operate commercial vehicles legally within Rainbow City AL and throughout the United States, an operator needs to get a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The 3 license classes that a driver can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the topic of this article is how to choose a truck driver school, we will highlight Class A and B licenses. What distinguishes each class of CDL is the kind of vehicle that the driver can operate together with the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Below are brief explanations for the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL 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. A few 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 Commercial Drivers License 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. Some 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 need endorsements to drive specific kinds of vehicles, for instance passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate needed endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to drive.
How to Research a CDL School
After you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you would like to pursue, you can begin the process of assessing the Rainbow City AL truck driving schools that you are considering. As earlier discussed, location and cost will no doubt be your initial concerns. But it can't be stressed enough that they must not be your sole concerns. Other issues, for example the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally or even more important. So below are a few additional things that you should research while carrying out your due diligence before enrolling in, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many truck driving schools in the Rainbow City AL area are accredited because of the stringent process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, 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 a number of advantages. Prospective students recognize that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will receive an ample amount of driving time. As an example, PTDI requires 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 comply with the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One indicator to help determine the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively 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 top Rainbow City AL schools had to start from their first day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also learn what the school's track record is pertaining to successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won't supply those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should also have relationships with local and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only points to a quality reputation within the industry, but also boosts their job placement program for students. It also wouldn't hurt to contact the Alabama licensing authority to verify that the CDL trucker schools you are considering are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Alabama and hire instructors that are trained and experienced. We will cover more about the instructors in the next segment. Also, the student to instructor proportion should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, then students will not be obtaining 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 claims it can train you to drive trucks in a comparatively short time period. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. Most Rainbow City AL schools offer training programs that range from three weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Trainers? As already mentioned, it's important that the instructors are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though several states have minimum driving time prerequisites to qualify as an instructor, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It's also crucial that the teachers keep up to date with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing teachers might be a little more intuitive than other standards, and possibly the ideal method is to check out the school and speak with the instructors in person. You can also talk to some 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.
Enough Driving Time? Above all else, a great truck driver school will provide lots of driving time to its students. Besides, 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 important training tools, they are no substitute for real driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. And even though driving time can vary between schools, a good benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Rainbow City AL schools you are considering and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It's possible to obtain free or discounted training from a number of truck driver schools if you make a commitment to be a driver for a specific carrier for a defined time period. This is what's known as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than having affiliations with numerous trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only work with one company. The tradeoff is receiving less expensive or even free training by surrendering the freedom to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Naturally contract training has the potential to reduce your income prospects when starting out. But for some it may be the best way to obtain affordable training. Just be sure to inquire if the Rainbow City AL schools you are looking at are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer 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 permitted in Alabama, ask if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to offer it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than competing with graduates from other schools for test times at Alabama testing facilities. It is also an indication that the DMV views the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Flexible? As formerly noted, truck driving training is only about one to two months long. With such a brief term, it's essential that the Rainbow City AL school you enroll in provides flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. For example, if you're having a hard time learning a particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be willing to spend more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you're still working while attending training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Assistance Provided? Once you have obtained your commercial driver's license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be keen to start your new career. Confirm that the schools you are reviewing have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking firms their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a lower job placement rate or not many Rainbow City AL employers hiring their graduates, it may be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Trucking schools are similar to colleges and other Rainbow City 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 examining have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that must be completed.
Enroll in the Right Rainbow City Truck Driver Training
Choosing the ideal truck driver school is a critical first step to starting your new vocation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skill sets that you will learn 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 obtain the proper training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are short on cash or financing, you might need to look into 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 select an independent trucker school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking firm of your choice, or one of several associated with the school. It's your choice. But regardless of how you obtain your training, you will soon be entering a profession that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Rainbow City Alabama.