How to Decide on the Right Truck Driving Classes near Scottsboro Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a trucking school near Scottsboro AL. Perhaps it has always been your ambition to hit the open road while driving a huge tractor trailer. Or maybe you have done some analysis and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver offers excellent wages and flexible work prospects. Whatever your reason is, it's essential to obtain the appropriate training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are a number of variables that you'll need to examine prior to making your final selection. Location will undoubtedly be important, particularly if you need to commute from your Scottsboro home. The expense will also be of importance, but selecting a school based solely on price is not the best means to make sure you'll get the right education. Just remember, your goal is to learn 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 decide on a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to address in the balance of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which commercial driver's license you will ultimately need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Need?
In order to operate commercial vehicles lawfully within Scottsboro AL and throughout the USA, an operator must obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The three license classes that one can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the subject of this article is how to pick a truck driver school, we will address Class A and Class B licenses. What differentiates each class of CDL is the kind of vehicle that the driver can operate in addition to the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Below are brief descriptions for the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is required to operate 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 more than 26,000 lbs. including a towed vehicle weighing up to 10,000 lbs. A few 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 may also need endorsements to operate specific types of vehicles, such as passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper required endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to drive.
How to Evaluate a CDL School
When you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you would like to obtain, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating the Scottsboro AL trucking schools that you are considering. As already discussed, location and cost will no doubt be your primary considerations. But it can't be emphasized enough that they must not be your sole considerations. Other factors, for instance the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally if not more important. So below are some more factors that you should research while carrying out your due diligence before selecting, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many truck driving schools in the Scottsboro AL area are accredited because of the stringent process and expense to the schools. However, certification is more prevalent and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are several advantages. Interested students recognize that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will be given plenty of driving time. As an example, PTDI mandates 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 fulfill the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help assess 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. On the other hand, even the best of Scottsboro AL schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also ask what the school's track record is pertaining to successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won't provide those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain relationships with regional and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only affirms a quality reputation within the industry, but also bolsters their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to get in touch with the Alabama licensing department to confirm that the CDL trucker schools you are reviewing are in compliance.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Alabama and hire teachers that are trained and experienced. We will discuss more about the instructors in the following segment. Also, the student to instructor proportion should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it's any higher, then students will not be getting the individual attention they will need. This is particularly true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And look out for any school that professes it can teach you to be a truck driver in a relatively short time frame. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. Most Scottsboro AL schools offer training programs that run from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Teachers? As previously stated, it's important that the instructors are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although several states have minimum driving time criteria to be certified as an instructor, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It's also crucial that the instructors stay up to date with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing teachers might be a bit more intuitive than other criteria, and perhaps the best approach is to pay a visit to the school and talk to the instructors face to face. You can also speak with some of the students going through the training and find out if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher's qualification to train them.
Sufficient Driving Time? Most importantly, a great truck driver school will furnish ample driving time to its students. After all, isn't that what it's all about? Driving time is the real time spent behind the wheel operating a truck. While the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are important 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 become. Although driving time varies among schools, a reasonable standard is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide no less than 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Scottsboro AL schools you are considering and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can obtain discounted or even free training from a number of truck driver schools if you make a commitment to drive for a specific carrier for a defined time period. This is called contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So rather than maintaining relationships with a wide range of trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only refer to one company. The tradeoff is receiving less expensive or even free training by giving up the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Naturally contract training has the potential to restrict your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the only way to obtain affordable training. Just be sure to find out if the Scottsboro AL schools you are looking at are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide Onsite CDL Testing? There are a number of states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its grads. If onsite testing is allowed in Alabama, find out if the schools you are looking at 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 centers. It is also an indication that the DMV regards the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Flexible? As formerly mentioned, CDL training is only about one to two months in length. With such a brief duration, it's important that the Scottsboro AL school you select offers 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 commit more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you're still holding a job while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Assistance Provided? As soon as you have attained your CDL license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be anxious to begin your new career. Make sure that the schools you are reviewing have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement rate is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking companies their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a poor job placement rate or not many Scottsboro AL employers hiring their grads, it might be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Given? Trucking schools are comparable to colleges and other Scottsboro 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 evaluating have a financial assistance department, or at least someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that need to be submitted.
Enroll in the Best Scottsboro Truck Driver Training
Selecting the ideal truck driver school is a critical first step to beginning your new occupation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skills that you will learn at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options available and understanding them is critical to a new driver's success. However, you must receive the appropriate training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are lacking cash or financing, you might 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 truck driving school and have the option of driving for the trucking firm of your choice, or one of several affiliated with the school. It's your decision. But no matter how you obtain your training, you will in the near future be joining a profession that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Scottsboro Alabama.