How to Choose the Best CDL Driving Classes near Tillmans Corner Alabama
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a CDL school near Tillmans Corner AL. Maybe it has always been your dream to hit the open highway while driving a monster tractor trailer. Or maybe you have conducted some research and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver provides good pay and flexible work prospects. Regardless of what your reason is, it's imperative to get the proper training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are a number of variables that you'll want to examine before making your ultimate selection. Location will undoubtedly be an issue, particularly if you have to commute from your Tillmans Corner home. The cost will also be of importance, but selecting a school based solely on price is not the ideal method to ensure you'll get the right training. Don't forget, your objective is to master the knowledge and skills that will allow you to pass the CDL exams and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that objective in mind, just how do you select a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to discuss in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which CDL license you will eventually need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Should You Get?
To operate commercial vehicles lawfully within Tillmans Corner AL and throughout the USA, a driver must get a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The 3 license classes that a driver can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the subject of this article is how to choose a truck driving school, we will focus on Class A and B licenses. What differentiates 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). Following are brief descriptions for the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is needed to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of greater than 10,000 lbs. Several 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 required to drive single vehicles having a GVWR of more 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 may also require endorsements to drive specific types of vehicles, for example passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate needed endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to drive.
How to Assess a Trucking School
When you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you would like to pursue, you can start the process of assessing the Tillmans Corner AL truck driving schools that you are looking at. As previously discussed, cost and location will no doubt be your primary considerations. But it can't be emphasized enough that they should not be your sole concerns. Other variables, including the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly if not more important. So below are some more things that you should research while conducting your due diligence prior to selecting, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many trucking schools in the Tillmans Corner AL area are accredited because of the demanding process and cost to the schools. However, certification is more prevalent and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Interested students know that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will receive 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 curriculum and training will comply with the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One clue to help assess the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively ranked or a fly by night school typically will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the best of Tillmans Corner AL schools had to start from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifiers. You can also learn what the school's history is relating to successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won't share those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain relationships with local and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only affirms a superior reputation within the profession, but also boosts their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn't hurt to check with the Alabama licensing authority to confirm that the CDL trucker schools you are considering are in compliance.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Alabama and employ instructors that are experienced and trained. We will talk more about the teachers in the following section. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, then students will not be obtaining the individual attention they will need. This is especially true concerning 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 period of time. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. Most Tillmans Corner AL schools offer training courses that range from 3 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 instructors are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although a number of states have minimum driving time criteria to qualify as a teacher, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also crucial that the teachers keep current with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating instructors might be a bit more subjective than other criteria, and possibly the ideal approach is to pay a visit to the school and speak with the instructors in person. You can also speak with a few of the students completing the training and ask if they are happy with the quality of instruction and the teacher's qualification to train them.
How Much Driving Time? Above all else, an excellent truck driver school will provide ample 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 replacement for real driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. And even though driving time varies between schools, a reasonable standard is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Tillmans Corner AL schools you are considering and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can get discounted or even free 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 what's known as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So instead of maintaining relationships with a wide range of 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 surrendering the flexibility 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 some it may be the ideal way to obtain affordable training. Just be sure to ask if the Tillmans Corner 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 driver schools for its students. If onsite testing is allowed in Alabama, ask if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than competing with graduates of competing schools for test times at Alabama testing facilities. It is moreover an indication that the DMV believes the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Accessible? As formerly noted, CDL training is only about 1 to 2 months in length. With such a brief duration, it's essential that the Tillmans Corner AL school you select provides flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. For example, if you're having difficulty learning a certain driving maneuver, then the instructor should be prepared to commit more time with you until you are proficient. And if you're still working while attending training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Assistance Offered? As soon as you have received your CDL license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be keen to start your new career. Confirm 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 local and national trucking firms their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a low job placement rate or few Tillmans Corner AL employers hiring their graduates, it might be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Available? Trucking schools are comparable to colleges and other Tillmans Corner AL area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Find out 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 must be submitted.
Enroll in the Best Tillmans Corner Truck Driver Training
Choosing the right truck driving school is an essential first step to beginning your new occupation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skill sets that you will learn at school will be those that shape 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 get the necessary training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are short on cash or financing, you may want to think about 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 select an independent truck driver school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choice, or one of many affiliated with the school. It's your choice. But no matter how you obtain your training, you will soon be entering a profession that helps America move as a professional trucker in Tillmans Corner Alabama.