How to Pick the Best Trucking Classes near Rainbow City Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a CDL school near Rainbow City AL. Perhaps it has always been your fantasy to hit the open road while operating a huge tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have done some research and have found that an occupation as a truck driver offers excellent pay and flexible job opportunities. Regardless of what your reason is, it's imperative to get the proper training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are several variables that you'll need to examine prior to making your final choice. Location will undoubtedly be an issue, especially if you need to commute from your Rainbow City home. The cost will also be of importance, but selecting a school based only on price is not the optimal way to make certain you'll obtain the appropriate training. Just remember, your goal is to master the knowledge and skills that will allow you to pass the CDL exams and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that target in mind, just how do you select a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to cover in the rest 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 Will You Need?
To drive commercial vehicles lawfully within Rainbow City AL and throughout the USA, an operator needs to 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. Given that the subject of this article is how to pick a truck driving school, we will address Class A and 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). Following are short explanations for the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is needed to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of greater than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of more than 10,000 lbs. Some 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 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 might also need endorsements to operate specific types of vehicles, for example passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper required endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to operate.
How to Research a Truck Driving School
When you have determined which CDL you would like to obtain, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating the Rainbow City AL truck driving schools that you are looking at. As already mentioned, location and cost will certainly be your primary concerns. But it can't be stressed enough that they should not be your sole concerns. Other factors, including the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly or even more important. So below are some additional points that you should research while carrying out your due diligence before enrolling in, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few trucking schools in the Rainbow City AL area are accredited due to the stringent 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 obligated to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Potential students recognize that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will be given an ample amount of driving time. As an example, PTDI mandates 44 hours of real driving time, not ride-alongs or simulations. 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 Business? One clue to help determine the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in business. A poorly ranked or a fly by night school typically will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the best of Rainbow City AL schools had to begin from their first day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifiers. You can also ask what the school's track record is pertaining to successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won't supply those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain associations with regional and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only affirms a superior reputation within the trade, but also bolsters their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to contact the Alabama licensing authority to make sure that the CDL trucking schools you are considering are in compliance.
How Good 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 instructors in the next segment. Also, the student to instructor ratio should be no higher than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, then students will not be getting the individual attention 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 be a truck driver in a relatively short time frame. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. The majority of Rainbow City AL schools offer training courses that run from three weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Instructors? As already stated, it's important that the instructors are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although several states have minimum driving time prerequisites to be certified as a teacher, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also vital that the teachers keep up to date with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating instructors may be a bit more subjective 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 speak with 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.
Sufficient Driving Time? Above all else, 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 driving a truck. Although the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are necessary training methods, they are no alternative for actual driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. Although driving time can vary between schools, a good 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 Rainbow City AL schools you are looking at and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It's possible to get discounted or even free training from certain truck driving schools if you make a commitment to be a driver for a specified carrier for a defined amount of time. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than maintaining associations with many different trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only refer to one company. The tradeoff is receiving free or less expensive training by surrendering the flexibility to initially work wherever you choose. Naturally contract training has the potential to restrict your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the best way to get affordable training. Just be sure to inquire if the Rainbow City AL schools you are contemplating are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer CDL Testing Onsite? There are some states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is permitted in Alabama, find out if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than contending with graduates from other schools for test times at Alabama testing locations. It is also an indicator that the DMV believes the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Convenient? As formerly noted, CDL training is only about one to two months in length. With such a short duration, it's important that the Rainbow City 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 instructor should be prepared to spend more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you're still working while going to training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Assistance Provided? Once you have attained your commercial driver's license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be keen to start your new profession. Make sure 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 local and national trucking companies their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a low job placement rate or not many Rainbow City AL employers hiring their graduates, it might be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? Trucking schools are much like colleges and other Rainbow City 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 assessing have a financial assistance department, or at least someone who can help you understand the options and forms that must be submitted.
Enroll in the Best Rainbow City Truck Driver Training
Choosing the ideal truck driving school is an important first step to starting your new occupation as a local or long distance 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 critical if you are going to succeed as an operator. But first and foremost, you must receive the appropriate training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are lacking cash or financing, you might want to consider a captive school. You will pay a reduced or even no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can enroll in an independent truck driving school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking company of your choosing, or one of many affiliated with the school. It's your decision. But regardless of how you get your training, you will soon be part of a profession that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Rainbow City Alabama.