How to Select the Right Trucker Classes near Satsuma Alabama
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a truck driving school near Satsuma AL. Maybe it has always been your dream to hit the open road while driving a huge tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have done some research and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver provides excellent wages and flexible work opportunities. Regardless of what your reason is, it's imperative to obtain the proper training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are certain variables that you'll want to think about before making your ultimate selection. Location will undoubtedly be important, particularly if you have to commute from your Satsuma home. The expense will also be important, but picking a school based solely on price is not the best means to guarantee you'll get the proper education. Don't forget, your goal 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 purpose in mind, just how do you choose a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to address in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which commercial driver's license you will ultimately need.
Which CDL Will You Need?
In order to operate commercial vehicles legally within Satsuma AL and throughout the USA, a driver needs to attain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The three classes of licenses that a person can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the subject of this article is how to select a truck driving 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 descriptions for the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is required to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of greater than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of greater 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 required to operate 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. 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 Commercial Drivers Licenses might also require endorsements to operate specific kinds of vehicles, including 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 Driving School
After you have determined which CDL you would like to pursue, you can begin the undertaking of assessing the Satsuma AL truck driving schools that you are looking at. As already mentioned, cost and location will no doubt be your primary considerations. But it can't be emphasized enough that they must not be your sole concerns. Other factors, such as the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally or even more important. So below are some more things that you need to research while conducting your due diligence before enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few trucking schools in the Satsuma AL area are accredited because of the stringent process and expense to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more common 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 get plenty of driving time. For example, PTDI calls for 44 hours of actual 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 training and curriculum will fulfill the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help determine the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly rated or a fly by night school usually will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the best of Satsuma AL schools had to begin from their first day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also ask what the school's history is regarding successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won't provide those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally have associations with local and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only points to a quality reputation within the profession, but also boosts their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn't hurt to get in touch with the Alabama licensing department to make sure that the CDL trucking schools you are reviewing are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in Alabama and employ instructors that are trained and experienced. We will discuss 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 higher, then students will not be receiving the individual instruction they will need. This is especially true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And watch out for any school that insists it can train you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short time period. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. The majority of Satsuma AL schools provide training courses that range from three weeks to as long as two months, depending on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Trainers? As previously mentioned, it's important that the teachers are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time requirements to be certified as a teacher, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It's also important that the teachers stay current with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing instructors may be a little more intuitive than other criteria, and possibly the ideal approach is to check out the school and speak with the instructors in person. You can also talk to a few of the students completing the training and find out if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher's qualification to train them.
How Much Driving Time? Most importantly, a great truck driver school will furnish plenty of 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 operating a truck. Although the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are essential training tools, they are no alternative for actual driving. The more instruction 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. Get in touch with the Satsuma AL schools you are considering and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It's possible to obtain free or discounted training from a number of truck driving schools if you make a commitment to drive 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 having relationships with a wide range of 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 freedom to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Naturally contract training has the potential to restrict your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the only way to receive affordable training. Just be sure to ask if the Satsuma AL schools you are considering are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer Onsite CDL Testing? There are some states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driver 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 benefit is that it is more accommodating than competing with graduates from competing schools for test times at Alabama testing facilities. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV considers the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Accessible? As earlier mentioned, truck driving training is just 1 to 2 months long. With such a short duration, it's important that the Satsuma AL school you choose offers flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. 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 are proficient. And if you're still working while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Assistance Offered? As soon as you have obtained your CDL license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be keen to begin your new profession. Verify that the schools you are considering have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement percentage 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 few Satsuma AL employers hiring their graduates, it might be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Truck driving schools are similar to colleges and other Satsuma AL area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being available. Find out if the schools you are evaluating have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you get through the options and forms that must be submitted.
Enroll in the Best Satsuma Truck Driver Training
Selecting the appropriate truck driving school is an important first step to launching your new profession 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 several options available and understanding them is critical to a new driver's success. However, you must receive the necessary training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are lacking money or financing, you may want to consider a captive school. You will pay a reduced or even no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can choose an independent CDL school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking company of your choice, or one of several associated with the school. It's your decision. But regardless of how you obtain your training, you will in the near future be joining an industry that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Satsuma Alabama.