How to Pick a Truck Driver School Anniston Alabama
Best wishes on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a CDL school near Anniston AL. Maybe it has always been your ambition to hit the open highway while operating a monster tractor trailer. Or maybe you have done some analysis and have found that an occupation as a truck driver offers good income and flexible job opportunities. Whatever your reason is, it’s essential to obtain the appropriate training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are various variables that you’ll want to think about prior to making your ultimate choice. Location will undoubtedly be an issue, particularly if you need to commute from your Anniston home. The expense will also be important, but choosing a school based entirely on price is not the optimal method to make certain you’ll get the right education. Just remember, 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 purpose in mind, just how do you choose a truck driving school? That is what we are going to discuss in the rest of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which CDL license you will ultimately need.
Which CDL Will You Require?
To operate commercial vehicles lawfully within the United States and Anniston AL, an operator needs to attain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 license classes that a person can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the subject of this article is how to choose a truck driving school, we will highlight Class A and Class B licenses. What distinguishes each class of CDL is the type of vehicle that the driver can operate in addition to the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Below are brief summaries for the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is required to operate 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 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. 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 Commercial Drivers Licenses might also need endorsements to operate specific types of vehicles, for example school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper needed endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to drive.
How to Assess a Truck Driving School
As soon as you have determined which CDL you wish to obtain, you can start the process of researching the Anniston AL truck driver schools that you are looking at. As earlier mentioned, location and cost will no doubt be your primary concerns. But it can’t be stressed enough that they must not be your sole concerns. Other factors, for example the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally if not more important. So following are a few more factors that you should research while conducting your due diligence prior to enrolling in, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few trucking schools in the Anniston AL area are accredited because of the demanding process and expense 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. Prospective students know that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will receive an ample amount of driving time. As an example, PTDI requires 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 training and curriculum will satisfy the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One indicator to help measure the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly reviewed or a fly by night school usually will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the top Anniston 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 history 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 numerous contacts not only confirms an excellent 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 make sure that the CDL trucker schools you are researching are in compliance.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Alabama and employ instructors that are experienced and trained. We will cover more about the teachers in the following segment. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should not be greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be getting the personalized 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 claims it can teach you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short time frame. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. The majority of Anniston AL schools offer training programs that run from three weeks to as long as two months, depending on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Trainers? As already mentioned, it’s important that the instructors are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though several states have minimum driving time criteria to qualify as a teacher, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also crucial that the teachers stay current with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating teachers may be a little more subjective than other criteria, and perhaps the best method is to visit the school and speak with the instructors in person. You can also talk to 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.
Plenty of Driving Time? Above all else, a good truck driving school will furnish plenty 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 essential training methods, they are no substitute for actual driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. And even though driving time varies among schools, a reasonable 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 Anniston AL schools you are researching and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It’s possible to obtain discounted or even free training from some trucking schools if you make a commitment to be a driver for a particular carrier for a defined amount of time. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So instead of maintaining associations with numerous 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 giving up the flexibility to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Naturally contract training has the potential to restrict your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the best way to get affordable training. Just make sure to ask if the Anniston AL schools you are looking at are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer CDL Testing Onsite? There are some states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its students. If onsite testing is allowed in Alabama, ask 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 other schools for test times at Alabama testing facilities. It is moreover an indication that the DMV considers the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Convenient? As formerly mentioned, truck driving training is only about 1 to 2 months in length. With such a brief term, it’s essential that the Anniston AL school you enroll in 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 instructor should be willing to spend more time with you until you are proficient. And if you’re still employed while going to training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Assistance Provided? Once you have attained your commercial driver’s license after graduating from trucking school, you will be keen to start your new career. Make sure that the schools you are considering have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking firms their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a low job placement rate or not many Anniston AL employers recruiting their grads, it might be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Available? Trucking schools are comparable to colleges and other Anniston 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 assessing have a financial assistance department, or at least someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that must be completed.
Attending Truck Driving School near Anniston AL?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Anniston Alabama area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Anniston is the county seat of Calhoun County in Alabama and is one of two urban centers/principal cities of and included in the Anniston-Oxford Metropolitan Statistical Area. As of the 2010 census, the population of the city was 23,106. According to 2013 Census estimates, the city had a population of 22,666.
Though the surrounding area was settled much earlier, the mineral resources in the area of Anniston were not exploited until the Civil War. The Confederate States of America then operated an iron furnace near present-day downtown Anniston, until it was finally destroyed by raiding Union cavalry in early 1865. Later, cast iron for sewer systems became the focus of Anniston's industrial output. Cast iron pipe, also called soil pipe, was popular until the advent of plastic pipe in the 1960s.
In 1872, the Woodstock Iron Company, organized by Samuel Noble and Union Gen. Daniel Tyler, rebuilt the furnace on a much larger scale, and started a planned community named Woodstock, soon renamed "Annie's Town" for Annie Scott Tyler, Daniel's daughter and wife of railroad president Alfred L. Tyler. Anniston was chartered as a town in 1873.
Select the Ideal Trucking School Anniston AL
Picking the ideal truck driving school is an essential first step to beginning your new vocation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skills that you will learn 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. Most importantly, you must obtain the necessary training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are short on cash or financing, you may want to consider a captive school. You will pay a reduced or even no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can select an independent school and have the option of driving for the trucking firm of your choosing, or one of many associated with the school. It’s your decision. But regardless of how you get your training, you will in the near future be part of an industry that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Anniston AL.
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