How to Pick the Best Trucker Classes near Trussville Alabama
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a trucking school near Trussville AL. Maybe it has always been your goal to hit the open road while operating a huge tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have conducted some analysis and have found that an occupation as a truck driver offers good wages and flexible work prospects. Regardless of what your reason is, it's imperative to obtain the appropriate training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are several factors that you'll want to examine before making your final selection. Location will no doubt be an issue, particularly if you have to commute from your Trussville residence. The cost will also be important, but picking a school based exclusively on price is not the best method to guarantee you'll receive the right education. Just remember, your objective is to learn the knowledge and skills that will allow you to pass the CDL examinations 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 discuss in the remainder 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 Should You Get?
In order to operate commercial vehicles lawfully within Trussville AL and throughout the USA, a driver must obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The three license classes that one can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the subject of this article is how to select a truck driving 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 as well as the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Below are brief explanations 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. 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 CDL is needed to operate 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 drive specific types of vehicles, such as school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper needed endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to drive.
How to Research a Truck Driver School
Once you have decided which CDL you wish to obtain, you can start the process of researching the Trussville AL trucking schools that you are considering. As previously discussed, location and cost will certainly be your initial concerns. But it can't be emphasized enough that they should not be your only considerations. Other factors, for instance the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly or even more important. So below are a few additional points that you should research while conducting your due diligence before selecting, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few truck driving schools in the Trussville AL area are accredited because of the stringent 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 several advantages. Prospective students recognize that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will get plenty of driving time. For example, PTDI calls for 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 training and curriculum will comply with the very high benchmarks 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 operation. A negatively ranked or a fly by night school usually will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the top Trussville AL schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifiers. You can also learn what the school's track record is relating to successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won't provide those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally have relationships with local and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only confirms a superior reputation within the profession, but also bolsters their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn't hurt to get in touch with the Alabama licensing authority to confirm that the CDL trucker schools you are researching are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Alabama and hire teachers that are experienced and trained. We will talk more about the instructors in the following section. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it's any higher, then students will not be getting the personal instruction they will need. This is particularly true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And look out for any school that professes it can train you to drive trucks in a relatively short period of time. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. The majority of Trussville AL schools offer training programs that range from 3 weeks to as long as two months, depending on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Instructors? As already mentioned, it's essential that the instructors are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although a number of states have minimum driving time criteria to be certified as a teacher, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also important that the teachers stay current with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing teachers may be a little more intuitive than other standards, and perhaps the best method is to pay a visit to the school and speak with the instructors in person. You can also talk to some of the students going through the training and find out if they are satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher's qualification to train them.
Enough Driving Time? Above all else, an excellent truck driving school will furnish sufficient 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. Even though the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are necessary training methods, they are no alternative for real driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. And even though driving time varies among schools, a good standard is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide at least 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Trussville AL schools you are considering and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It's possible to receive discounted or even free training from certain truck driving schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a specified carrier for a defined period of time. This is what's known as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So instead of maintaining affiliations with numerous trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only work with one company. The benefit is receiving free or less expensive training by giving up the freedom to initially work wherever you choose. Obviously contract training has the potential to restrict your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the ideal way to obtain affordable training. Just be sure to find out if the Trussville AL schools you are considering are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide CDL Testing Onsite? There are a number of states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is allowed 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 of other schools for test times at Alabama testing locations. It is also an indication that the DMV considers the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Convenient? As formerly mentioned, truck driver training is just 1 to 2 months in length. With such a brief duration, it's important that the Trussville AL school you enroll in provides 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 prepared to dedicate more time with you until you are proficient. And if you're still working while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Assistance Offered? As soon as you have acquired your commercial driver's license after graduating from trucking school, you will be eager to begin your new profession. Confirm that the schools you are looking at have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement rate 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 lower job placement rate or not many Trussville AL employers recruiting their graduates, it might be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Truck driver schools are much like colleges and other Trussville AL area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being available. Ask if the schools you are evaluating have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you get through the options and forms that must be completed.
Enroll in the Best Trussville Truck Driver Training
Picking the ideal truck driver school is a critical first step to starting your new vocation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skills taught at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of 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 big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are lacking money or financing, you might need 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 choose an independent trucking school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking company of your choosing, or one of many affiliated with the school. It's your choice. But regardless of how you obtain your training, you will soon be part of a profession that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Trussville Alabama.