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How to Find the Best Truck Driver Classes near Rainsville Alabama

Rainsville Alabama tractor trailer carrying cargoCongratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a truck driving school near Rainsville AL. Maybe it has always been your goal to hit the open highway while operating a huge tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have done some analysis and have found that a career as a truck driver offers good wages and flexible work prospects. No matter what your reason is, it's important to obtain the proper training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are various factors that you'll want to think about before making your ultimate choice. Location will no doubt be important, especially if you have to commute from your Rainsville home. The cost will also be of importance, but picking a school based solely on price is not the ideal method to make certain you'll receive the proper training. Don't forget, your objective is to learn the knowledge and skills that will allow you to pass the CDL exams and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that objective 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 balance of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which CDL license you will ultimately need.

Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Require?

Rainsville Alabama tractor trailer driving down expressway

To drive commercial vehicles lawfully within Rainsville AL and throughout the USA, an operator needs to get a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The 3 license classes that a person 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 focus on 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). Following are short explanations of the two classes.

Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is required to operate any vehicle that has a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of greater than 10,000 lbs. Several 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 CDL 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. 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 might also need endorsements to drive specific kinds of vehicles, such as passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper needed endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to drive.

How to Assess a Truck Driver School

Rainsville Alabama cement mixer truck with flag paint job

As soon as you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you want to pursue, you can start the process of evaluating the Rainsville AL truck driver schools that you are looking at. As already mentioned, location and cost will undoubtedly be your primary concerns. But it can't be stressed enough that they must not be your only considerations. Other issues, for example the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally if not more important. So following are a few more points that you should research while performing your due diligence before choosing, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.

Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many truck driver schools in the Rainsville AL area are accredited due to the stringent process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, 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 a number of advantages. Interested students recognize that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will receive plenty of driving time. For example, PTDI requires 44 hours of real driving time, not simulations or ride-alongs. 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 benchmarks set by PTDI.

How Long in Operation? One clue to help evaluate the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in business. A negatively reviewed or a fly by night school typically will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the best of Rainsville AL schools had to begin from their first day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also find out what the school's track record is regarding successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won't provide those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally have associations with local and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only points to an excellent reputation within the trade, but also bolsters their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn't hurt to check with the Alabama licensing authority to confirm that the CDL trucker schools you are reviewing are in good standing.

How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in Alabama and employ instructors that are trained and experienced. We will cover more about the teachers in the next section. Also, the student to instructor ratio should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, then students will not be getting the personal instruction they will need. This is especially true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And look out for any school that insists it can train you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short period of time. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. Most Rainsville AL schools offer training programs that range from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the class of license or kind of vehicle.

How Good are the Instructors? As earlier stated, it's imperative that the instructors are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although a number of states have minimum driving time criteria to be certified as a teacher, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It's also vital that the teachers stay current with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing teachers might be a little more intuitive than other criteria, and possibly the best approach is to check out the school and talk to the instructors face to face. You can also talk to a few of the students completing the training and ask if they are happy with the quality of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.

Sufficient Driving Time? Most importantly, a good truck driving school will provide lots of driving time to its students. Besides, isn't that what it's all about? Driving time is the real time spent behind the wheel operating a truck. Although the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are necessary training methods, they are no replacement for actual driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. And even though driving time differs between schools, a reasonable standard is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide at least 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Rainsville AL schools you are researching and ask how much driving time they provide.

Are they Independent or Captive ? It's possible to obtain free or discounted training from some truck driver schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a specified carrier for a defined time period. This is what's known as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of maintaining relationships 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 flexibility to initially work wherever you choose. Obviously contract training has the potential to reduce your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the best way to obtain affordable training. Just remember to find out if the Rainsville AL schools you are considering are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.

Provide Onsite CDL Testing? There are several states that will permit 3rd 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 considering are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more convenient than competing with graduates from competing schools for test times at Alabama testing centers. It is moreover an indication that the DMV believes the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.

Are the Classes Flexible? As earlier noted, truck driver training is just 1 to 2 months in length. With such a brief duration, it's essential that the Rainsville AL school you select offers flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. As an example, if you're having difficulty learning a certain driving maneuver, then the teacher should be prepared to dedicate more time with you until you are proficient. And if you're still employed while attending training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other commitments.

Is Job Placement 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. Confirm that the schools you are reviewing have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking firms their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a lower job placement rate or not many Rainsville AL employers recruiting their grads, it might be a clue to search elsewhere.

Is Financial Assistance Available? Trucking schools are similar to colleges and other Rainsville AL area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Find out 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.

Find Out More About Rainsville Trucking Schools

Choose the Right Rainsville Truck Driver Training

Selecting the right truck driving school is an essential first step to starting your new profession as a local or long distance truck driver. The skills 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 to a new driver's success. But first and foremost, you must obtain the necessary training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are short on cash or financing, you might want to look into a captive school. You will pay a reduced or even no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can choose an independent truck driving school and have the option of driving for the trucking firm of your choosing, or one of many affiliated with the school. It's your choice. But no matter how you receive your training, you will soon be joining a profession that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Rainsville Alabama.

 

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