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How to Decide on the Best Trucking School near Tarrant Alabama

Tarrant Alabama truck carrying payloadCongrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a truck driving school near Tarrant AL. Maybe it has always been your ambition to hit the open highway while operating a big ole tractor trailer. Or possibly you have conducted some analysis and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver offers excellent wages and flexible job prospects. Regardless of what your reason is, it's essential to get the proper training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are various factors that you'll need to think about prior to making your final choice. Location will certainly be important, particularly if you need to commute from your Tarrant residence. The cost will also be of importance, but picking a school based entirely on price is not the ideal method to make certain you'll get the right training. Don't forget, your objective is to learn the knowledge and skills that will allow you to pass the CDL examinations and become a qualified 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 cover in the remainder 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 Will You Require?

Tarrant Alabama tractor trailer driving down road

To drive commercial vehicles lawfully within Tarrant AL and throughout the USA, a driver needs to attain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The 3 license classes that a person can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the topic of this article is how to pick a truck driving school, we will discuss Class A and B licenses. What differentiates each class of CDL is the type of vehicle that the driver can operate in addition to the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Following are brief descriptions for the 2 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 greater than 10,000 lbs. Some 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 needed 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 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 CDLs may also need endorsements to operate certain types of vehicles, such as school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate required endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to drive.

How to Evaluate a Truck Driver School

Tarrant Alabama cement mixer truck with patriotic paint job

Once you have decided which CDL you would like to obtain, you can begin the process of evaluating the Tarrant AL truck driver schools that you are considering. As earlier discussed, location and cost will undoubtedly be your primary considerations. But it can't be emphasized enough that they must not be your only concerns. Other factors, for instance the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally or even more important. So below are a few more factors that you need to research while conducting your due diligence prior to enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.

Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few trucking schools in the Tarrant AL area are accredited because of the stringent process and expense to the schools. However, certification is more typical and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are a number of advantages. Potential students recognize that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will receive lots of driving time. For example, PTDI mandates 44 hours of real 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 curriculum and training will measure up to the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.

How Long in Operation? One indicator to help assess the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly ranked or a fly by night school usually will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the best of Tarrant AL schools had to begin from their first day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also learn what the school's history is concerning successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won't share those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally have relationships with local and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only affirms a superior reputation within the profession, but also bolsters their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn't hurt to contact the Alabama licensing department to confirm that the CDL trucking schools you are researching are in compliance.

How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in Alabama and employ teachers that are trained and experienced. We will discuss more about the teachers in the following segment. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, then students will not be receiving the individual instruction they will need. This is particularly true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And be critical of any school that professes it can train you to drive trucks in a comparatively short period of time. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. The majority of Tarrant AL schools offer training programs that run from three weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the license class or kind of vehicle.

How Experienced are the Instructors? As previously mentioned, it's essential that the teachers are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though a number of 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 important that the instructors stay current with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing teachers might be a little more intuitive than other criteria, and possibly the ideal approach is to check out the school and speak with the instructors face to face. You can also speak with some of the students completing the training and ask if they are satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.

Plenty of Driving Time? Above all else, an excellent truck driving 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. Although the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are important training tools, they are no alternative for real driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will become. And even though driving time differs among schools, a reasonable standard is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish at least 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Tarrant AL schools you are researching and find out how much driving time they provide.

Are they Captive or Independent ? You can receive discounted or even free training from certain truck driving schools if you make a commitment to be a driver for a specific carrier for a defined period of time. This is what's known as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of maintaining associations with many different trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, 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 have an opportunity. Naturally contract training has the potential to reduce your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the best way to obtain affordable training. Just make sure to inquire if the Tarrant AL schools you are considering are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.

Offer Onsite CDL Testing? There are a number of states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is available in Alabama, ask if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than battling with graduates from other schools for test times at Alabama testing locations. It is also an indicator that the DMV regards the approved schools to be of a higher quality.

Are the Classes Convenient? As formerly mentioned, CDL training is just one to two months in length. With such a short duration, it's imperative that the Tarrant AL school you choose offers flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. For 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 must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other responsibilities.

Is Job Placement Provided? Once you have attained your commercial driver's license after graduating from trucking school, you will be keen to start your new career. Verify 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 firms their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a low job placement rate or few Tarrant AL employers recruiting their graduates, it might be a clue to look elsewhere.

Is Financial Aid Offered? Truck driver schools are comparable to colleges and other Tarrant AL area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. Ask if the schools you are examining have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you understand the options and forms that need to be submitted.

Find Out More About Tarrant Truck Driver Classes

Choose the Best Tarrant 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 taught at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are many options available and understanding them is vital to a new driver's success. But first and foremost, you must get the appropriate training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are lacking money or financing, you may need to think about a captive school. You will pay a lower or in some cases no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can select an independent truck driver 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 choice. But regardless of how you obtain your training, you will in the near future be entering an industry that helps America move as a professional trucker in Tarrant Alabama.

 

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