How to Find the Best Truck Driver School 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 fantasy to hit the open highway while operating a monster tractor trailer. Or maybe you have conducted some research and have found that a career as a truck driver offers excellent income and flexible work prospects. No matter what your reason is, it's imperative to receive the appropriate training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are a number of factors that you'll need to think about before making your ultimate choice. Location will undoubtedly be important, especially if you need to commute from your Rainbow City residence. The expense will also be important, but picking a school based exclusively on price is not the optimal means to make sure you'll obtain the appropriate education. Just remember, your goal is to learn the knowledge and skills that will enable you to pass the CDL examinations and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that purpose in mind, just how do you select a truck driving school? That is what we are going to cover in the balance of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which CDL license you will ultimately need.
Which CDL Should You Get?
To operate commercial vehicles lawfully within Rainbow City AL and throughout the USA, a driver must attain 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 topic of this article is how to pick a truck driver 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 descriptions for the 2 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 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 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. Several of the vehicles that drivers may be qualified to operate 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 operate certain types of vehicles, for example passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate needed endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to operate.
How to Research a Truck Driver School
After you have decided which CDL you wish to pursue, you can start the process of assessing the Rainbow City AL truck driving schools that you are considering. As earlier mentioned, location and cost will no doubt be your primary concerns. But it can't be stressed enough that they should not be your only considerations. Other variables, for instance the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally if not more important. So following are several additional points that you need to research while performing your due diligence prior to choosing, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few trucking schools in the Rainbow City AL area are accredited due to the demanding process and expense to the schools. However, certification is more commonplace and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are several advantages. Prospective students know that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will be given an ample amount of driving time. For example, PTDI mandates 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 meet the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One clue to help measure the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively ranked or a fly by night school usually will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the best of Rainbow City AL schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so use it as one of several qualifications. You can also ask what the school's track record is relating to successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won't provide those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should also have associations with regional and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only points to a superior reputation within the profession, but also bolsters their job placement program for students. It also wouldn't hurt to contact the Alabama licensing authority to make sure that the CDL trucking schools you are researching are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in Alabama and employ instructors that are experienced and trained. We will cover more about the teachers in the next segment. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should be no higher 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 be critical of any school that professes it can teach you to drive trucks in a relatively short time frame. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. The majority of Rainbow City AL schools offer training courses that range from three weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Instructors? As already stated, it's imperative that the teachers are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although a number of states have minimum driving time prerequisites to qualify as a teacher, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also vital that the instructors stay up to date with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing teachers may be a bit more intuitive than other criteria, and possibly the ideal method is to pay a visit to the school and talk to 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 level of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.
How Much Driving Time? Above all else, a great truck driver school will provide ample driving time to its students. Besides, isn't that what it's all about? Driving time is the actual time spent behind the wheel operating a truck. Even though the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are necessary training tools, they are no substitute for real driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. And even though driving time fluctuates between schools, a good standard 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 find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It's possible to obtain free or discounted training from some trucking schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a specified carrier for a defined amount of time. This is called contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So rather than maintaining affiliations with a wide range of trucking lines that they can refer their students to, 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. Obviously contract training has the potential to restrict your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the ideal way to receive affordable training. Just make sure to ask if the Rainbow City AL schools you are looking at are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there CDL Testing Onsite? There are a number of states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is allowed in Alabama, find out if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than contending with graduates of other schools for test times at Alabama testing facilities. It is also an indication that the DMV considers the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Convenient? As earlier mentioned, CDL training is just one to two months long. With such a short term, it's important that the Rainbow City AL school you choose provides 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 instructor should be prepared to spend more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you're still holding a job while going to training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Placement Provided? As soon as you have acquired your CDL license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be anxious to begin your new profession. Verify that the schools you are considering have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking firms their graduates are referred to for employment. 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 Aid Provided? Trucking schools are much like colleges and other Rainbow City AL area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. Find out if the schools you are evaluating have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you understand the options and forms that must be submitted.
Choose the Best Rainbow City CDL Training
Selecting the appropriate trucking school is an important first step to starting your new occupation as a long distance or local 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 crucial to a new driver's success. But first and foremost, you must get the proper training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are lacking money or financing, you may need to look into a captive school. You will pay a lower or even no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can select an independent CDL school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choosing, or one of many affiliated with the school. It's your choice. But no matter how you get your training, you will soon be joining a profession that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Rainbow City Alabama.