How to Choose the Right CDL Driving Classes near Rainsville Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a CDL school near Rainsville AL. Perhaps it has always been your goal to hit the open road while operating a big ole tractor trailer. Or possibly you have done some analysis and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver provides excellent income and flexible work prospects. No matter what your reason is, it's essential to get 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 consider before making your ultimate choice. Location will no doubt be an issue, especially if you need to commute from your Rainsville home. The expense will also be important, but selecting a school based entirely on price is not the best means to make certain you'll receive the proper education. Don't forget, your goal is to master the knowledge and skills that will enable you to pass the CDL exams and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that goal 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 commercial driver's license you will ultimately need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Require?
To operate commercial vehicles lawfully within Rainsville 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 topic of this article is how to choose a truck driver school, we will address 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 short summaries for the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is required to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of more 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 Commercial Drivers License is required to drive single vehicles having a GVWR of greater than 26,000 lbs., or a GCWR of greater than 26,000 lbs. including a towed vehicle weighing up to 10,000 lbs. A few 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 Commercial Drivers Licenses may also need endorsements to drive specific types of vehicles, such as school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate required endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to drive.
How to Assess a CDL School
After you have decided which CDL you wish to pursue, you can begin the process of evaluating the Rainsville AL truck driver schools that you are considering. As already mentioned, cost and location will certainly be your initial concerns. But it can't be stressed enough that they must not be your only considerations. Other variables, such as the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly or even more important. So following are a few additional points that you should research while carrying out your due diligence before choosing, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few truck driving schools in the Rainsville AL area are accredited because of the demanding 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 required to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Interested students know that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will be given plenty of driving time. For example, PTDI requires 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 measure up to the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help evaluate the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in business. A negatively ranked or a fly by night school usually will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the best of Rainsville AL schools had to start from their first day of training, so use it as one of several qualifications. You can also ask what the school's history is concerning successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won't share those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should also have relationships with regional and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only confirms a superior reputation within the profession, but also bolsters their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to check with the Alabama licensing department to verify that the CDL trucking schools you are reviewing are in good standing.
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 discuss more about the instructors in the next segment. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, then students will not be obtaining the personalized instruction they will need. This is especially true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And watch out for any school that professes it can teach you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short time period. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. The majority of Rainsville AL schools provide training programs that run from three weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Instructors? As previously stated, it's essential that the teachers are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though 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 crucial that the instructors keep up to date with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating teachers might be a bit more intuitive than other criteria, and perhaps the best method is to check out the school and talk to the instructors in person. You can also speak with a few of the students completing the training and find out if they are satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher's qualification to train them.
Sufficient Driving Time? Most importantly, a good 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. Although the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are essential 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. Although driving time fluctuates among schools, a good benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish no less than 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Rainsville AL schools you are researching and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can receive free or discounted training from some truck driver schools if you make a commitment to be a driver for a particular carrier for a defined time period. This is called contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So rather than maintaining associations with numerous trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only work with one company. The benefit is receiving less expensive or even free training by giving up the freedom to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Naturally contract training has the potential to reduce your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the ideal way to obtain affordable training. Just remember to inquire if the Rainsville 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 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is allowed in Alabama, ask if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than contending with graduates from competing schools for test times at Alabama testing locations. It is moreover an indication that the DMV considers the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Convenient? As formerly noted, truck driving training is only about one to two months long. With such a brief term, it's important that the Rainsville AL school you select provides flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. 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 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 acquired your commercial driver's license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be keen to begin your new profession. Verify that the schools you are reviewing have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking companies their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a poor job placement rate or few Rainsville AL employers hiring their grads, it may be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? Trucking schools are much like colleges and other Rainsville AL area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Find out if the schools you are evaluating have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you get through the options and forms that must be completed.
Enroll in the Best Rainsville CDL Training
Picking the right truck driving school is a critical first step to starting your new vocation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skills that you will learn at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are several options offered and understanding them is vital to a new driver's success. However, you must obtain the necessary training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are lacking cash or financing, you may need to consider 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 enroll in an independent truck driver school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking firm of your choosing, or one of many associated with the school. It's your decision. But regardless of how you get your training, you will soon be joining a profession that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Rainsville Alabama.