How to Find the Best Truck Driver Classes near Tillmans Corner Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a CDL school near Tillmans Corner AL. Perhaps it has always been your ambition to hit the open highway while driving a big ole tractor trailer. Or maybe you have conducted some analysis and have found that a career as a truck driver offers excellent wages and flexible work prospects. Regardless of what your reason is, it's essential to get the appropriate 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 consider prior to making your ultimate selection. Location will certainly be important, particularly if you need to commute from your Tillmans Corner home. The expense will also be important, but picking a school based exclusively on price is not the optimal method to make certain you'll get the proper education. Don't forget, your goal is to master the skills and knowledge that will enable you to pass the CDL exams and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that target in mind, just how do you decide on a truck driving school? That is what we are going to address in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which commercial driver's license you will eventually need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Need?
To drive commercial vehicles lawfully within Tillmans Corner AL and throughout the USA, an operator must get a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The 3 classes of licenses that one can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the subject of this article is how to pick a truck driver school, we will address Class A and Class 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 short explanations 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 more than 10,000 lbs. Some 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 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 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 might also need endorsements to drive certain types of vehicles, for instance school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate needed endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to drive.
How to Research a Truck Driver School
Once you have determined which CDL you want to pursue, you can begin the undertaking of assessing the Tillmans Corner AL truck driving schools that you are looking at. As already mentioned, cost and location will certainly be your primary concerns. But it can't be stressed enough that they should not be your sole considerations. Other factors, including the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly or even more important. So below are several more factors that you should research while carrying out your due diligence prior to selecting, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many trucking schools in the Tillmans Corner AL area are accredited because of the stringent process and cost to the schools. However, certification is more commonplace and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Potential students know that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will receive plenty of driving time. As an example, PTDI requires 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 satisfy the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help determine the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in business. A negatively reviewed 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 use it as one of several qualifications. You can also learn what the school's history is pertaining to successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won't supply those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should also have relationships with local and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only affirms a superior reputation within the profession, but also bolsters their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to check with the Alabama licensing authority to make sure that the CDL trucking schools you are reviewing are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Alabama and hire teachers that are experienced and trained. We will discuss more about the instructors in the next segment. Also, the student to instructor ratio should not be greater than 4 to 1. If it's any higher, then students will not be getting the individual instruction 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 time frame. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. Most Tillmans Corner AL schools provide training programs that run from 3 weeks to as long as two months, based on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Trainers? As earlier stated, it's essential that the instructors are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time prerequisites to be certified as an instructor, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also vital that the instructors stay up to date with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating instructors might be a bit more intuitive than other standards, and perhaps the ideal approach is to visit the school and talk to the instructors face to face. You can also talk to some of the students going through the training and ask if they are satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.
Sufficient Driving Time? Above all else, a great trucking school will provide 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. While the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are important training methods, they are no replacement for actual driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. And even though driving time fluctuates among 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. Get in touch with the Tillmans Corner AL schools you are researching and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can obtain discounted or even free training from certain trucking schools if you make a commitment to be a driver for a specific carrier for a defined time period. This is what's known as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So instead of maintaining associations with numerous trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only work with one company. The tradeoff is receiving free or less expensive training by giving up the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Clearly contract training has the potential to limit your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the only way to get affordable training. Just be sure to find out if the Tillmans Corner AL schools you are looking at are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer Onsite CDL Testing? There are several states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its grads. If onsite testing is available in Alabama, ask if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more convenient than battling with graduates from competing schools for test times at Alabama testing locations. It is also an indicator that the DMV considers the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Accessible? As previously noted, truck driving training is just one to two months in length. With such a short duration, it's essential that the Tillmans Corner AL school you choose 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 teacher should be willing to commit more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you're still holding a job while going to training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Placement Provided? As soon as you have received your CDL license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be keen to begin your new profession. Make sure that the schools you are contemplating have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking companies their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a low job placement rate or not many Tillmans Corner AL employers recruiting their grads, it might be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Trucking schools are comparable to colleges and other Tillmans Corner AL area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. Find out if the schools you are evaluating have a financial assistance department, or at least someone who can help you understand the options and forms that must be submitted.
Choose the Best Tillmans Corner Truck Driver Training
Choosing the right truck driver school is an important 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 forge a new career behind the wheel. There are several options available and understanding them is critical to a new driver's success. But first and foremost, you must get the necessary training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are short on cash or financing, you may need to look into a captive school. You will pay a lower or even no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can select an independent truck driving school and have the option of driving for the trucking firm of your choice, or one of several affiliated with the school. It's your choice. But no matter how you get your training, you will soon be entering a profession that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Tillmans Corner Alabama.