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How to Choose the Best CDL Training Classes near Wetumpka Alabama

Wetumpka Alabama tractor trailer carrying payloadCongratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a trucking school near Wetumpka AL. Maybe it has always been your fantasy to hit the open road while operating a huge tractor trailer. Or possibly you have done some analysis and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver provides good pay and flexible job prospects. No matter what your reason is, it's essential to receive the appropriate training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are certain variables that you'll want to examine prior to making your final choice. Location will certainly be an issue, especially if you have to commute from your Wetumpka residence. The cost will also be important, but picking a school based entirely on price is not the optimal method to make certain you'll obtain the right training. Don't forget, your goal is to master the knowledge and skills that will enable you to pass the CDL exams and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that target in mind, just how do you select a truck driving school? That is what we are going to address in the rest of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which commercial driver's license you will ultimately need.

Which CDL Will You Need?

Wetumpka Alabama tractor trailer traveling down expressway

To operate commercial vehicles lawfully within Wetumpka AL and throughout the USA, a driver must get a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The 3 license classes that a driver can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the topic 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 together with 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 required to operate any vehicle that has a GCWR of greater than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of more than 10,000 lbs. Several 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 drive single vehicles having a GVWR of greater 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 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 might also require endorsements to drive specific kinds of vehicles, for example school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate needed endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to drive.

How to Research a Truck Driving School

Wetumpka Alabama cement truck with flag paint job

After you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you would like to pursue, you can start the process of evaluating the Wetumpka AL truck driver schools that you are looking at. As already discussed, location and cost will no doubt be your initial concerns. But it can't be emphasized enough that they should not be your only 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 some more factors that you need to research while carrying out your due diligence before choosing, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.

Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few truck driver schools in the Wetumpka AL area are accredited because of the stringent 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 obligated to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Interested students know that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will get plenty of driving time. As an example, PTDI requires 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 curriculum and training will fulfill the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.

How Long in Operation? One indicator to help assess 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. Having said that, even the best of Wetumpka 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 track record is concerning successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won't provide those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally have relationships with regional and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only points to an excellent 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 department to verify that the CDL trucker 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 employ instructors that are trained and experienced. We will discuss more about the instructors in the next segment. 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 receiving 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 insists it can train you to drive trucks in a relatively short time period. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. Most Wetumpka AL schools provide training programs that run from three weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the license class or kind of vehicle.

How Good are the Trainers? As earlier mentioned, it's essential that the instructors are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although several states have minimum driving time criteria to be certified as a teacher, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also vital that the teachers keep up to date with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing instructors may be a little more subjective than other criteria, and perhaps the best method is to pay a visit to the school and speak with the teachers in person. You can also speak with some of the students going through the training and ask if they are satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher's qualification to train them.

Plenty of Driving Time? Above all else, a good trucking school will provide lots of 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 simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are important training tools, they are no replacement for actual driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. Although driving time fluctuates among schools, a good benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide no less than 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Wetumpka AL schools you are looking at and ask how much driving time they furnish.

Are they Independent or Captive ? It's possible to receive free or discounted training from some trucking schools if you make a commitment to drive for a specified carrier for a defined time period. This is called contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So instead of maintaining relationships with numerous trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only work with one company. The tradeoff is receiving less expensive or even free training by giving up the flexibility to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Obviously contract training has the potential to restrict your income opportunities when starting out. But for some it may be the ideal way to receive affordable training. Just make sure to ask if the Wetumpka AL schools you are considering are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.

Is there CDL Testing Onsite? There are some states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its students. If onsite testing is allowed in Alabama, find out if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than competing with graduates from competing schools for test times at Alabama testing facilities. It is moreover an indication that the DMV believes the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.

Are the Class Times Convenient? As previously mentioned, truck driver training is only about one to two months in length. With such a brief duration, it's important that the Wetumpka AL school you choose 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 willing to spend 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 Placement Offered? Once you have attained your CDL license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be keen to start your new career. Confirm that the schools you are contemplating have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking companies their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a poor job placement rate or not many Wetumpka AL employers hiring their grads, it might be a sign to look elsewhere.

Is Financial Aid Provided? Truck driving schools are comparable to colleges and other Wetumpka AL area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being available. Ask if the schools you are reviewing 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 Wetumpka Truck Driver Training

Picking the appropriate truck driver school is a critical first step to starting your new profession 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 many options available and understanding them is vital if you are going to succeed as an operator. However, you must obtain the necessary training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are lacking funds or financing, you might want to look into a captive school. You will pay a lower or in some cases no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can select an independent trucker school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choosing, or one of many affiliated with the school. It's your choice. But regardless of how you receive your training, you will soon be joining an industry that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Wetumpka Alabama.

 

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