How to Enroll in the Right Truck Driving School near Scottsboro Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a truck driving school near Scottsboro AL. Maybe it has always been your ambition to hit the open road while driving a huge tractor trailer. Or maybe you have done some research and have found that a career as a truck driver provides good wages and flexible job prospects. Whatever your reason is, it's important to obtain the appropriate training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are several factors that you'll need to think about prior to making your ultimate selection. Location will certainly be an issue, especially if you need to commute from your Scottsboro residence. The expense will also be important, but selecting a school based solely on price is not the ideal way to make certain you'll obtain the proper training. Don't forget, your goal is to master the knowledge and skills that will enable you to pass the CDL exams and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that objective in mind, just how do you pick a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to address in the rest of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which commercial driver's license you will ultimately need.
Which CDL Should You Get?
To drive commercial vehicles lawfully within Scottsboro AL and throughout the USA, an operator must get a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The 3 license classes that one can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the subject of this article is how to choose a truck driving 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 as well as the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Below are brief explanations of the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is needed to operate 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 CDL 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. 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 may also require endorsements to operate specific kinds of vehicles, for instance passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, 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
As soon as you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you would like to obtain, you can start the process of evaluating the Scottsboro AL trucking schools that you are looking at. As earlier discussed, location and cost will no doubt be your primary considerations. But it can't be stressed enough that they should not be your sole considerations. Other factors, for instance the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly or even more important. So below are a few additional factors that you need to research while conducting your due diligence before enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many truck driver schools in the Scottsboro AL area are accredited due to the rigorous process and expense to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more typical and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Potential students know that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will get 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 training and curriculum will comply with the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One indicator to help determine the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in business. A negatively ranked or a fly by night school normally will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the top Scottsboro AL schools had to begin from their first day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also learn 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 have relationships with local and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only points to an excellent reputation within the profession, but also boosts their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn't hurt to contact the Alabama licensing authority to make sure that the CDL trucker schools you are reviewing are in compliance.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Alabama and employ teachers that are experienced and trained. We will discuss more about the teachers in the next segment. In addition, 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 personal attention they will need. This is particularly true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And watch out for any school that professes it can train you to drive trucks in a relatively short period of time. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. Most Scottsboro AL schools offer training programs that range from three weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Teachers? As already mentioned, it's important that the teachers are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though several states have minimum driving time requirements to qualify as an instructor, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also crucial that the instructors keep current with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing instructors may be a little more subjective than other standards, and perhaps the best approach is to check out the school and talk to the teachers in person. You can also speak with some of the students going through 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, an excellent truck driving school will furnish plenty 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 simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are important training tools, they are no substitute for actual driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. Although driving time varies 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. Check with the Scottsboro AL schools you are considering and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It's possible to obtain discounted or even free training from some truck driving schools if you make a commitment to drive for a specific carrier for a defined period 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 place their graduates with, captives only refer to one company. The benefit is receiving less expensive or even free training by surrendering the flexibility to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Naturally contract training has the potential to restrict your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the ideal way to get affordable training. Just remember to inquire if the Scottsboro AL schools you are looking at are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide CDL Testing Onsite? There are some states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is permitted in Alabama, ask if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than contending with graduates from other schools for test times at Alabama testing facilities. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV views the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Flexible? As previously mentioned, CDL training is just one to two months long. With such a short duration, it's imperative that the Scottsboro AL school you enroll in offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. As an 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 have it mastered. And if you're still working 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? As soon as you have received your commercial driver's license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be keen to begin your new profession. Verify that the schools you are contemplating 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 hiring. If a school has a low job placement rate or few Scottsboro AL employers recruiting their graduates, it may be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Truck driver schools are much like colleges and other Scottsboro AL area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Ask if the schools you are examining have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that need to be submitted.
Enroll in the Right Scottsboro Truck Driver Training
Picking the appropriate trucking school is a critical first step to beginning your new occupation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skills taught at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options offered and understanding them is critical to a new driver's success. However, you must get the proper training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are lacking funds or financing, you may want to consider a captive school. You will pay a lower or in some cases no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can enroll in an independent trucker school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking firm of your choosing, or one of several associated with the school. It's your choice. But regardless of how you obtain your training, you will in the near future be part of a profession that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Scottsboro Alabama.