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How to Select the Best CDL Training School near Troy Alabama

Troy Alabama tractor trailer carrying payloadCongratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a trucking school near Troy AL. Perhaps it has always been your dream to hit the open highway while driving a big ole tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have conducted some research and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver provides excellent pay and flexible work prospects. No matter what your reason is, it's important to receive the appropriate training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are several variables that you'll want to think about before making your ultimate selection. Location will no doubt be an issue, especially if you have to commute from your Troy home. The cost will also be of importance, but choosing a school based solely on price is not the best way to make sure you'll receive the appropriate education. Just remember, your goal is to learn the knowledge and skills that will allow you to pass the CDL examinations and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that purpose in mind, just how do you choose a truck driving school? That is what we are going to cover in the rest of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which commercial driver's license you will eventually need.

Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Need?

Troy Alabama truck traveling down road

To operate commercial vehicles lawfully within Troy AL and throughout the USA, a driver must obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The 3 license classes that a driver can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the topic of this article is how to pick a truck driver 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 together with the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Following are brief explanations of the 2 classes.

Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is required 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 Commercial Drivers License is needed to operate single vehicles having a GVWR of more than 26,000 lbs., or a GCWR of more 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 CDLs may also need endorsements to drive certain types of vehicles, for example passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper needed endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to operate.

How to Assess a CDL School

Troy Alabama concrete truck with flag paint job

As soon as you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you would like to pursue, you can begin the undertaking of researching the Troy AL trucking schools that you are looking at. As previously mentioned, cost and location will no doubt be your initial considerations. But it can't be stressed enough that they must not be your sole concerns. Other variables, such as the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally or even more important. So following are a few more things 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 Troy AL area are accredited due to the demanding process and cost to the schools. However, certification is more typical and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are several advantages. Interested students know that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will get lots of driving time. For example, PTDI mandates 44 hours of actual 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 benchmarks set by PTDI.

How Long in Business? One clue to help measure the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly ranked or a fly by night school typically will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the best of Troy AL schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so use it as one of several qualifications. You can also find out what the school's track record is pertaining to successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won't share those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally have relationships with local and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only points to a quality reputation within the industry, but also boosts their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to check with the Alabama licensing authority to verify that the CDL trucker schools you are reviewing are in compliance.

How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Alabama and employ teachers that are experienced and trained. We will discuss more about the instructors in the next 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 receiving the personalized instruction they will need. This is especially true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And watch out for any school that claims it can train you to drive trucks in a comparatively short time period. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. The majority of Troy AL schools provide training courses that range from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the license class or kind of vehicle.

How Good are the Instructors? As earlier stated, it's imperative that the instructors are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though several states have minimum driving time prerequisites to qualify as a teacher, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It's also important that the instructors keep up to date with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating teachers may be a bit more intuitive than other standards, and perhaps the best method is to check out the school and talk to the instructors face to face. You can also speak with a few of the students going through the training and find out if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.

Adequate Driving Time? Most importantly, an excellent truck driving school will provide lots of driving time to its students. Besides, 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 ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are necessary training methods, they are no substitute for actual driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will become. Although driving time varies between schools, a reasonable standard is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Troy AL schools you are considering and find out how much driving time they provide.

Are they Captive or Independent ? You can get discounted or even free training from a number of truck driving schools if you make a commitment to be a driver for a specified 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 having relationships with numerous 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 surrendering the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Clearly contract training has the potential to limit your income opportunities when starting out. But for many it may be the only way to obtain affordable training. Just be sure to find out if the Troy AL schools you are contemplating are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.

Is there Onsite CDL Testing? There are several states that will permit 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 looking at are DMV certified to offer it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than competing with graduates of competing schools for test times at Alabama testing locations. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV deems the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.

Are the Classes Flexible? As formerly noted, truck driver training is only about 1 to 2 months in length. With such a short duration, it's essential that the Troy AL school you choose offers flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. As an example, if you're having a hard time learning a particular driving maneuver, then the teacher should be prepared to dedicate more time with you until you are proficient. And if you're still holding a job while attending training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other responsibilities.

Is Job Assistance Provided? The moment you have obtained your CDL license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be impatient to start your new career. Verify that the schools you are considering have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement rate is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking firms their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a poor job placement rate or not many Troy AL employers recruiting their graduates, it might be a sign to look elsewhere.

Is Financial Aid Offered? Truck driver schools are comparable to colleges and other Troy AL area trade or technical 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 least someone who can help you get through the options and forms that must be completed.

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Enroll in the Best Troy CDL Training

Picking the appropriate truck driver school is an important first step to starting your new vocation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skill sets taught 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 receive the appropriate training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are short on funds or financing, you may want to think about a captive school. You will pay a lower or even 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 firm of your choosing, or one of many associated with the school. It's your decision. But no matter how you obtain your training, you will soon be joining a profession that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Troy Alabama.

 

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