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How to Find the Right CDL Training School near Tillmans Corner Alabama

Tillmans Corner Alabama tractor trailer carrying cargoCongratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a truck driving school near Tillmans Corner AL. Maybe it has always been your ambition to hit the open road while operating a huge tractor trailer. Or possibly you have conducted some analysis and have found that an occupation as a truck driver provides excellent income and flexible job opportunities. Whatever your reason is, it's important to get the appropriate training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are certain factors that you'll need to consider prior to making your ultimate selection. Location will no doubt be an issue, especially if you have to commute from your Tillmans Corner home. The cost will also be important, but picking a school based solely on price is not the best way to make certain you'll get the proper training. Don't forget, your goal is to master the knowledge and skills that will enable you to pass the CDL examinations and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that goal in mind, just how do you decide on a truck driving school? That is what we are going to discuss in the rest of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which CDL license you will eventually need.

Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Require?

Tillmans Corner Alabama tractor trailer driving down expressway

In order to drive commercial vehicles legally within Tillmans Corner AL and throughout the United States, a driver needs to obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The 3 classes of licenses that a driver 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 highlight Class A and Class B licenses. What differentiates each class of CDL is the type of vehicle that the driver can operate as well as 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 Commercial Drivers License 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 Commercial Drivers License is required to operate 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 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 drive certain kinds of vehicles, for instance school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper required endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to operate.

How to Research a Truck Driving School

Tillmans Corner Alabama cement truck with flag paint job

Once you have determined which CDL you want to obtain, you can begin the undertaking of assessing the Tillmans Corner AL truck driving schools that you are considering. As previously discussed, cost and location will no doubt be your initial concerns. But it can't be stressed enough that they should not be your sole concerns. Other factors, for instance the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally if not more important. So below are several additional things that you need to research while performing your due diligence prior to selecting, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.

Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many trucking schools in the Tillmans Corner AL area are accredited due to the demanding process and expense to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more common 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 know that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will receive plenty of driving time. As an example, PTDI mandates 44 hours of actual driving time, not simulations or ride-alongs. So if a school's program is certified (the program, not the school is certified), students know that the training and curriculum will measure up to the very high standards set by PTDI.

How Long in Operation? One clue to help measure the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in business. A negatively ranked or a fly by night school typically 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 use it as one of multiple qualifications. 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 stats, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally have associations with regional and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only affirms a superior reputation within the profession, but also boosts their job placement program for students. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to contact the Alabama licensing authority to make sure that the CDL trucking schools you are reviewing are in good standing.

How Good 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 instructors in the next section. Also, the student to instructor ratio should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, then students will not be getting the individual attention they will need. This is especially true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And look out for any school that claims it can train you to drive trucks in a relatively short period of time. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. Most Tillmans Corner AL schools offer training programs that run from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the class of license or kind of vehicle.

How Good are the Trainers? As earlier stated, it's imperative that the instructors are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although several states have minimum driving time requirements to be certified as a teacher, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also vital that the instructors keep current with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing teachers may be a bit more intuitive than other criteria, and possibly the ideal approach is to pay a visit to the school and speak with the teachers 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 quality of instruction and the teacher's qualification to train them.

Enough Driving Time? Most importantly, a great truck driver 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 driving a truck. Although the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are essential training tools, they are no substitute for real driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. Although driving time differs among schools, a reasonable standard is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Tillmans Corner AL schools you are considering 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 certain truck driving schools if you make a commitment to drive 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 having affiliations with a wide range of trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only refer to one company. The tradeoff is receiving free or less expensive training by giving up the flexibility to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Naturally contract training has the potential to restrict your income prospects when starting out. But for some it may be the ideal way to receive affordable training. Just make sure to find out if the Tillmans Corner AL schools you are contemplating are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.

Provide CDL Testing Onsite? There are some states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is permitted in Alabama, ask if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than competing with graduates from other schools for test times at Alabama testing locations. It is also an indicator that the DMV views the approved schools to be of a superior quality.

Are the Class Times Flexible? As previously mentioned, CDL training is only about one to two months long. With such a short term, it's essential that the Tillmans Corner AL school you select offers flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. For example, if you're having difficulty learning a particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be prepared to dedicate more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you're still holding a job while attending training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other responsibilities.

Is Job Placement Offered? Once you have attained your commercial driver's license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be keen to begin your new profession. Make sure that the schools you are reviewing have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking firms their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a poor job placement rate or few Tillmans Corner AL employers recruiting their graduates, it may be a sign to search elsewhere.

Is Financial Assistance Provided? Truck driving schools are much like colleges and other Tillmans Corner AL area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being available. Ask if the schools you are assessing have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you get through the options and forms that must be submitted.

Find Out More About Tillmans Corner Trucking Classes

Enroll in the Best Tillmans Corner Truck Driver Training

Selecting the right trucking school is a critical first step to starting 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 many options offered and understanding them is vital to a new driver's success. However, you must get the necessary training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are short on cash or financing, you may need to consider a captive school. You will pay a reduced or in some cases no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can enroll in an independent truck driver school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking firm of your choice, or one of several associated with the school. It's your choice. But regardless of how you get your training, you will in the near future be joining a profession that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Tillmans Corner Alabama.

 

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