How to Select the Right CDL Driving School near Wetumpka Alabama
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a trucking school near Wetumpka AL. Perhaps it has always been your goal to hit the open road while driving a huge tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have conducted some research and have found that an occupation as a truck driver offers good wages and flexible job opportunities. No matter what your reason is, it's essential to obtain the appropriate training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are a number of factors that you'll need to examine before making your ultimate choice. Location will certainly be an issue, particularly if you need to commute from your Wetumpka home. The cost will also be important, but choosing a school based solely on price is not the ideal means to make sure you'll get the right education. Don't forget, your goal is to learn the skills and knowledge that will enable you to pass the CDL examinations and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that purpose in mind, just how do you decide on a truck driving school? That is what we are going to cover in the rest of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which CDL license you will eventually need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Should You Get?
In order to drive commercial vehicles lawfully within Wetumpka AL and throughout the USA, a driver must attain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The 3 classes of licenses that one can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the topic 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 short descriptions 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. Several of the vehicles that drivers may be able to operate 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 greater than 26,000 lbs., or a GCWR of more 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 kinds of vehicles, for instance passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper required endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to operate.
How to Research a Trucking School
As soon as you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you want to pursue, you can begin the undertaking of researching the Wetumpka AL truck driver schools that you are looking at. As previously mentioned, location and cost will no doubt be your primary considerations. But it can't be emphasized enough that they should not be your sole considerations. Other variables, including the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly if not more important. So below are several additional points that you should research while conducting your due diligence before selecting, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few truck driver schools in the Wetumpka AL area are accredited because of the rigorous process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more commonplace and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Prospective students know that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will be given plenty of driving time. As an example, PTDI calls for 44 hours of real driving time, not ride-alongs or simulations. So if a school's program is certified (the program, not the school is certified), students know that the curriculum and training will satisfy the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help assess the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively ranked or a fly by night school normally will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the top Wetumpka AL schools had to start from their first day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifications. You can also find out what the school's history is regarding successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won't share those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain associations with regional and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only affirms a quality reputation within the industry, but also bolsters their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to get in touch with the Alabama licensing department to confirm that the CDL trucking schools you are considering are in good standing.
How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in Alabama and employ teachers that are experienced and trained. We will cover more about the instructors in the next segment. Also, the student to instructor proportion should not be greater than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, then students will not be getting the personalized attention they will need. This is particularly 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 be a truck driver in a relatively short period of time. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. Most Wetumpka AL schools provide training programs that range from three weeks to as long as two months, depending on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Instructors? As earlier mentioned, it's important that the instructors are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although a number of states have minimum driving time criteria to be certified as an instructor, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It's also vital that the teachers stay up to date with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating teachers 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 talk to some of the students completing 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, an excellent trucking school will provide lots of 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 important training tools, they are no substitute for real driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. Although driving time differs among schools, a good standard is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Wetumpka AL schools you are researching and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It's possible to get free or discounted training from certain truck driving schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a particular carrier for a defined time period. This is called contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of having relationships with many different trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only work with one company. The benefit is receiving less expensive or even free training by surrendering the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Obviously contract training has the potential to restrict your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the ideal way to receive affordable training. Just remember to find out if the Wetumpka AL schools you are looking at are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide Onsite CDL Testing? There are a number of states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its graduates. 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 contending with graduates from other schools for test times at Alabama testing locations. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV deems the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Flexible? As earlier mentioned, truck driver training is just 1 to 2 months long. With such a short term, it's important that the Wetumpka AL school you enroll in offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. For example, if you're having difficulty learning a particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be prepared to commit more time with you until you are proficient. And if you're still working while going to training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Placement 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 contemplating have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking firms their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a lower job placement rate or not many Wetumpka AL employers hiring their grads, it may be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? Trucking schools are much like colleges and other Wetumpka AL area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you get through the options and forms that need to be completed.
Enroll in the Best Wetumpka CDL Training
Picking the ideal truck driver school is an important first step to starting your new profession as a long distance or local truck driver. The skills that you will learn at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options offered and understanding them is crucial to a new driver's success. However, you must obtain the proper training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are lacking funds or financing, you may want to look into a captive school. You will pay a reduced or in some cases no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can enroll in an independent truck driver school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choosing, or one of many associated with the school. It's your choice. But regardless of how you get your training, you will soon be entering a profession that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Wetumpka Alabama.