How to Choose the Right Trucker Classes near Trussville Alabama
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a truck driving school near Trussville AL. Maybe it has always been your dream to hit the open road while driving a big ole tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have done some analysis and have found that an occupation as a truck driver offers excellent income and flexible job prospects. No matter what your reason is, it's important to get the appropriate training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are a number of variables that you'll want to think about before making your ultimate choice. Location will undoubtedly be important, particularly if you need to commute from your Trussville home. The cost will also be of importance, but picking a school based entirely on price is not the best method to ensure you'll get the proper training. Don't forget, your goal is to master the knowledge and skills that will allow you to pass the CDL examinations and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that objective in mind, just how do you decide on a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to address in the balance of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which commercial driver's license you will ultimately need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Need?
In order to drive commercial vehicles lawfully within Trussville AL and throughout the United States, a driver needs to attain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The three classes of licenses that a driver can apply 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 Class B licenses. What distinguishes 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 explanations for the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL 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. 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 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 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 operate certain kinds of vehicles, including passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper needed endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to operate.
How to Research a CDL School
Once you have determined which CDL you wish to pursue, you can start the undertaking of evaluating the Trussville AL trucking schools that you are looking at. As earlier discussed, location and cost will no doubt be your initial considerations. But it can't be stressed enough that they should not be your only considerations. Other variables, including the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly or even more important. So following are a few more things that you need to research while carrying out your due diligence prior to selecting, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few trucking schools in the Trussville AL area are accredited because of the stringent process and cost to the schools. However, certification is more typical and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are several 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 calls for 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 measure up to the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One indicator to help determine the quality of a truck driver 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 Trussville AL schools had to start from their first day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifiers. You can also ask what the school's track record is pertaining to successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won't provide those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should also maintain associations with regional and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only affirms a superior reputation within the trade, but also boosts their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn't hurt to get in touch with the Alabama licensing department to verify that the CDL trucking schools you are reviewing are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in Alabama and hire teachers that are experienced and trained. We will cover more about the instructors in the following segment. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it's any higher, then students will not be getting the personal 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 insists it can teach you to drive trucks in a comparatively short period of time. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. Most Trussville AL schools provide training programs that run from 3 weeks to as long as two months, depending on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Trainers? As earlier stated, it's imperative that the teachers are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although several states have minimum driving time criteria to qualify as a teacher, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also vital that the instructors stay current with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating teachers might be a little more subjective than other standards, and possibly the ideal method is to visit the school and talk to the teachers in person. You can also speak with a few of the students going through the training and find out if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.
Enough Driving Time? Most importantly, a great truck driving school will furnish sufficient 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 simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are important training methods, they are no substitute for actual driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. And even though driving time differs between schools, a reasonable benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Trussville AL schools you are considering and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It's possible to receive discounted or even free training from some trucking schools if you make a commitment to drive for a particular carrier for a defined amount of time. This is called 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 place their graduates with, captives only refer to 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. Clearly contract training has the potential to reduce your income opportunities when starting out. But for many it may be the best way to obtain affordable training. Just remember to ask if the Trussville AL schools you are considering are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer CDL Testing Onsite? There are a number of states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its students. If onsite testing is permitted in Alabama, find out if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than competing with graduates of other schools for test times at Alabama testing locations. It is also an indication that the DMV believes the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Flexible? As previously mentioned, truck driver training is just one to two months in length. With such a brief duration, it's essential that the Trussville AL school you select offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. As an example, if you're having difficulty learning a particular driving maneuver, then the teacher 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 fit in working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Assistance Provided? Once you have obtained your commercial driver's license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be keen to begin your new profession. Confirm that the schools you are considering have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement rate is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking companies their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a lower job placement rate or few Trussville AL employers recruiting their grads, it might be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Given? Truck driving schools are similar to colleges and other Trussville AL area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being offered. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you understand the options and forms that need to be submitted.
Choose the Best Trussville CDL Training
Selecting the ideal truck driver school is an important first step to launching your new occupation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skill sets taught at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are several options available and understanding them is vital if you are going to succeed as an operator. However, you must get the necessary training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are short on money or financing, you may need to look into 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 trucker 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 decision. But no matter how you obtain your training, you will soon be entering an industry that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Trussville Alabama.