How to Select the Right Truck Driving Classes near Tillmans Corner Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a CDL school near Tillmans Corner AL. Perhaps it has always been your dream to hit the open highway while driving a huge tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have conducted some research and have found that an occupation as a truck driver offers excellent pay and flexible job opportunities. Regardless of what your reason is, it's imperative to obtain the proper training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are certain factors that you'll need to examine prior to making your ultimate choice. Location will undoubtedly be important, particularly if you have to commute from your Tillmans Corner home. The cost will also be of importance, but selecting a school based entirely on price is not the optimal means to make certain you'll get the appropriate training. Just remember, 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 goal in mind, just how do you decide on a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to cover in the balance of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which CDL license you will eventually need.
Which CDL Will You Require?
In order to drive commercial vehicles legally within Tillmans Corner AL and throughout the United States, an operator needs to obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The 3 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 driver school, we will highlight Class A and B licenses. What distinguishes each class of CDL is the type of vehicle that the driver can operate together with the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Following are brief summaries of the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is needed to operate any vehicle that has a GCWR of greater than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of greater than 10,000 lbs. A few 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 CDL is needed 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. Some 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 Commercial Drivers Licenses might also need endorsements to drive specific kinds of vehicles, such as passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate required endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to operate.
How to Assess a Truck Driving School
When you have decided which CDL you want to obtain, you can begin the process of researching the Tillmans Corner AL truck driving schools that you are considering. As previously mentioned, cost and location will certainly be your initial considerations. But it can't be stressed enough that they must not be your only concerns. Other variables, including the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly if not more important. So following are a few additional points that you should research while conducting your due diligence prior to enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many truck driving schools in the Tillmans Corner AL area are accredited due to the stringent process and expense to the schools. However, certification is more prevalent and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are several advantages. Prospective students recognize that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will be given plenty of driving time. For 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 comply with the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help evaluate the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively reviewed 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 Tillmans Corner AL schools had to begin from their first day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifiers. You can also ask what the school's history is concerning successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won't supply those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should also have associations with regional and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only affirms an excellent reputation within the profession, but also boosts their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to get in touch with the Alabama licensing authority to verify that the CDL trucking schools you are researching are in good standing.
How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in Alabama and employ teachers that are trained and experienced. We will talk more about the instructors in the following section. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should not be greater than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, then students will not be getting the personalized attention 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 professes it can teach you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short period of time. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. The majority of Tillmans Corner AL schools offer training courses that run from 3 weeks to as long as two months, based on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Instructors? As previously mentioned, it's essential that the instructors are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time requirements to qualify as an instructor, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also important that the instructors stay up to date with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating instructors may be a bit more subjective than other criteria, and possibly the best approach is to check out the school and speak with the teachers face to face. You can also speak with some 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.
Enough Driving Time? Above all else, a great truck driver school will furnish lots 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 driving a truck. While the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are essential training methods, they are no substitute for real driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. And even though driving time varies between schools, a good benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish at least 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Tillmans Corner AL schools you are looking at and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It's possible to obtain discounted or even free training from a number of trucking schools if you make a commitment to be a driver 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 associations with a wide range of trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only refer to one company. The tradeoff is receiving less expensive or even free training by giving up the flexibility to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Obviously contract training has the potential to limit your income prospects when starting out. But for some it may be the ideal way to obtain affordable training. Just make sure to inquire if the Tillmans Corner AL schools you are looking at are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide Onsite CDL Testing? There are some states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is available in Alabama, find out if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than battling with graduates from competing schools for test times at Alabama testing facilities. It is also an indicator that the DMV deems the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Accessible? As earlier mentioned, truck driving training is only about one to two months in length. With such a short duration, it's imperative that the Tillmans Corner AL school you enroll in offers flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. For example, if you're having a hard time learning a particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be willing to devote 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 fit in working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Placement Provided? The moment you have received your CDL license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be eager to begin your new career. Confirm that the schools you are contemplating have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement rate is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking firms their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a poor job placement rate or few Tillmans Corner AL employers hiring their grads, it may be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Truck driving schools are similar to colleges and other Tillmans Corner AL area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you get through the options and forms that need to be completed.
Choose the Best Tillmans Corner CDL Training
Selecting the ideal truck driving school is an important first step to launching your new occupation 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 many options available and understanding them is critical if you are going to succeed as an operator. But first and foremost, you must receive the proper training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are short on funds 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 select 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 no matter how you get your training, you will in the near future be entering a profession that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Tillmans Corner Alabama.