How to Decide on a Truck Driving School Ashford Alabama
Best wishes on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a CDL school near Ashford AL. Perhaps it has always been your fantasy to hit the open highway while operating a huge tractor trailer. Or possibly you have done some research and have discovered that a career as a truck driver provides excellent pay and flexible job opportunities. Regardless of what your reason is, it’s essential to receive the appropriate training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are certain factors that you’ll want to consider prior to making your final choice. Location will undoubtedly be an issue, especially if you need to commute from your Ashford residence. The cost will also be important, but picking a school based entirely on price is not the ideal way to make sure you’ll receive the appropriate education. Don’t forget, your goal is to master the skills and knowledge 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 select 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 eventually need.
Which CDL Should You Get?
In order to operate commercial vehicles lawfully within the USA and Ashford AL, an operator 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. Given that the subject of this article is how to select a truck driver 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 as well as 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 Commercial Drivers License is required to operate any vehicle that has a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of more than 10,000 lbs. A few 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 required 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 may also need endorsements to operate specific kinds of vehicles, for instance passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper needed endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to operate.
How to Assess a CDL School
After you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you wish to obtain, you can start the process of researching the Ashford AL trucking schools that you are looking at. As already mentioned, location and cost will no doubt be your initial concerns. But it can’t be stressed enough that they must not be your only considerations. Other variables, including the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally or even more important. So following are several more things that you need to research while performing your due diligence before enrolling in, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many trucking schools in the Ashford AL area are accredited because of the demanding process and cost to the schools. However, certification is more commonplace and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Potential students recognize that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will get an ample amount of driving time. For example, PTDI requires 44 hours of actual 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 indicator to help measure the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in business. A negatively rated or a fly by night school usually will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the top Ashford AL schools had to start from their first day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also ask what the school’s history is pertaining to successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won’t provide those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should also have associations with local and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only affirms a quality reputation within the profession, but also bolsters their job placement program for students. 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 compliance.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Alabama and hire instructors that are experienced and trained. We will cover more about the instructors in the following segment. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be getting the personalized attention they will need. This is especially true regarding 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 time period. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. The majority of Ashford AL schools offer training courses that range from three weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Instructors? As already stated, it’s imperative that the instructors are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though several states have minimum driving time prerequisites to qualify as a teacher, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also crucial that the teachers keep current with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing instructors might be a bit more subjective than other criteria, and possibly the best approach is to pay a visit to the school and speak with the instructors face to face. You can also speak with 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 qualification to train them.
Plenty of Driving Time? Most importantly, a good truck driving school will furnish sufficient driving time to its students. Besides, isn’t that what it’s all about? Driving time is the actual time spent behind the wheel driving a truck. While the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are important training tools, they are no alternative for actual driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. Although driving time fluctuates among schools, a good benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish at least 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Ashford AL schools you are considering and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It’s possible to obtain discounted or even free training from some truck driving schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a particular 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 refer to one company. The benefit is receiving free or less expensive training by surrendering the freedom to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Naturally contract training has the potential to reduce your income prospects when starting out. But for many it may be the best way to receive affordable training. Just make sure to ask if the Ashford AL schools you are considering are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer CDL Testing Onsite? There are some states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its students. If onsite testing is allowed in Alabama, ask if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than contending with graduates from competing schools for test times at Alabama testing locations. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV views the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Flexible? As formerly noted, truck driver training is just one to two months long. With such a brief duration, it’s imperative that the Ashford AL school you enroll in offers flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. For example, if you’re having difficulty 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 commitments.
Is Job Placement Offered? As soon as you have attained your CDL license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be anxious to start your new career. Make sure that the schools you are reviewing have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking firms their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a low job placement rate or few Ashford AL employers hiring their grads, it might be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Given? Trucking schools are much like colleges and other Ashford 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 evaluating have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you get through the options and forms that need to be submitted.
Attending Truck Driving School near Ashford AL?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Ashford Alabama area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Ashford is a town in Houston County, Alabama, United States. It is part of the Dothan, Alabama Metropolitan Statistical Area. The town was incorporated in June 1891. For most of its history, it was a center for naval stores production, pulpwood harvesting, and cotton agriculture. The population was 2,148 at the 2010 census, up from 1,853 at the 2000 census.
Ashford is located slightly northeast of the center of Houston County at 31°11′3″N 85°14′7″W / 31.18417°N 85.23528°W / 31.18417; -85.23528 (31.184032, -85.235286).U.S. Route 84 passes through the southern part of the town, leading west 9 miles (14 km) to Dothan and southeast 24 miles (39 km) to Donalsonville, Georgia. The Chattahoochee River, which forms the Georgia state line, is 12 miles (19 km) southeast of Ashford on US 84.
Ashford's former mayor is Jonathon Grecu, he resigned from office on December 31, 2017. On January 8, 2018 Carole Barfield took office. As of October 2018, the current mayor is Carole Barfield, and City Council members are Gary Gibson, Ronnie Whitehead, Alan Anderson, James Smith, and Denise Herndon. The recreation director for the City of Ashford is Louis Edmondson. The City Clerk is currently open for employment.
Choose the Ideal Truck Driving School Ashford AL
Picking the ideal truck driving school is an essential first step to starting your new vocation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skill sets taught at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are several options available and understanding them is critical to a new driver’s success. Most importantly, you must obtain the necessary training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are short on cash or financing, you might need to consider 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 school and have the option of driving for the trucking firm of your choosing, or one of several associated with the school. It’s your decision. But no matter how you obtain your training, you will in the near future be part of a profession that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Ashford AL.
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