How to Decide on a Truck Driving School Blountsville Alabama
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a trucking school near Blountsville AL. Maybe it has always been your dream to hit the open road while operating a big ole tractor trailer. Or possibly you have done some research and have found that a career as a truck driver provides good income and flexible work prospects. No matter what your reason is, it’s important to receive the proper training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are several factors that you’ll want to examine prior to making your final choice. Location will no doubt be an issue, especially if you have to commute from your Blountsville home. The expense will also be of importance, but picking a school based exclusively on price is not the optimal way to ensure you’ll obtain the proper training. Don’t forget, your goal is to learn the skills and knowledge that will enable you to pass the CDL exams and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that goal in mind, just how do you choose a truck driving school? The answer to that question 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 CDL license you will eventually need.
Which CDL Should You Get?
In order to drive commercial vehicles legally within the United States and Blountsville AL, an operator needs to obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three classes of licenses that a driver can qualify 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 distinguishes each class of CDL is the kind of vehicle that the driver can operate together with 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 Commercial Drivers License is needed to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of greater 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 drive single vehicles having a GVWR of more 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 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 certain types of vehicles, for example school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate required endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to operate.
How to Assess a Trucking School
When you have decided which CDL you would like to pursue, you can start the undertaking of assessing the Blountsville AL truck driver schools that you are considering. As already mentioned, cost and location will undoubtedly be your primary concerns. But it can’t be stressed enough that they should not be your sole concerns. Other issues, for instance the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally if not more important. So following are some additional things that you should research while conducting your due diligence before selecting, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few truck driver schools in the Blountsville 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 required to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Interested students know that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will get plenty of driving time. As an example, PTDI calls for 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 training and curriculum will comply with the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One indicator to help measure the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly reviewed or a fly by night school typically will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the best of Blountsville AL schools had to start from their first day of training, so use it as one of several qualifications. You can also ask what the school’s track record is regarding successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won’t supply those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should also have relationships with regional and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only points to an excellent reputation within the industry, but also bolsters their job placement program for students. It also wouldn’t hurt to contact the Alabama licensing authority to verify that the CDL trucking schools you are researching are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in Alabama and employ teachers that are trained and experienced. We will discuss more about the instructors in the next section. 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 receiving the individual instruction they will need. This is particularly true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And be critical of any school that insists it can train you to drive trucks in a relatively short period of time. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. The majority of Blountsville AL schools provide training courses that run from three weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Instructors? As previously mentioned, it’s imperative that the teachers 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 instructors keep current with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating instructors may be a bit more intuitive than other standards, and possibly the best approach is to pay a visit to the school and speak with the instructors in person. You can also talk to a few of the students completing the training and ask if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
Adequate Driving Time? Above all else, a good truck driver school will furnish ample driving time to its students. After all, isn’t that what it’s all about? Driving time is the actual time spent behind the wheel driving a truck. Although the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are necessary training methods, they are no substitute for actual driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. And even though driving time fluctuates among schools, a reasonable benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Blountsville AL schools you are considering and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can obtain free or discounted training from certain truck driving schools if you make a commitment to drive for a specific carrier for a defined amount of time. This is what’s known as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of having associations with a wide range of trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only work with one company. The tradeoff is receiving less expensive or even free training by giving up the freedom to initially work wherever you choose. Clearly contract training has the potential to reduce your income prospects when starting out. But for many it may be the only way to get affordable training. Just remember to ask if the Blountsville AL schools you are looking at 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 trucking schools for its grads. If onsite testing is permitted in Alabama, find out if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to offer it. One benefit is that it is more convenient than competing with graduates of other schools for test times at Alabama testing facilities. It is also an indication that the DMV deems the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Flexible? As previously mentioned, CDL training is only about 1 to 2 months long. With such a brief term, it’s important that the Blountsville AL school you enroll in provides flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. For example, if you’re having difficulty learning a certain driving maneuver, then the instructor should be prepared to commit more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you’re still working while going to training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Assistance Offered? The moment you have acquired your CDL license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be impatient to start your new career. Verify that the schools you are looking at have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking firms their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a low job placement rate or few Blountsville AL employers hiring their graduates, it may be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Given? Trucking schools are much like colleges and other Blountsville AL area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being offered. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have a financial assistance department, or at least someone who can help you get through the options and forms that need to be submitted.
Attending Truck Driving School near Blountsville AL?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Blountsville Alabama area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Blount County was created by the Alabama territorial legislature on February 6, 1818, from land ceded to the federal government by the Creek Nation on August 9, 1814. It was named for Gov. Willie G. Blount of Tennessee, who provided assistance to settlers in Alabama during the Creek War of 1813-14. It lies in the northeastern section of the state, generally known as the mineral region.
What became Blountsville appears on an 1819 map as the mixed Creek/Cherokee Native American village of "Wassausey" (meaning Bear Meat Cabin, the name of an Indian translator who lived there). The town was established by Caleb Fryley and Johnny Jones in 1816 as Bear Meat Cabin. The post office was opened as Blountsville on October 20, 1825, and incorporated on December 13, 1827. It was the county seat until 1889 when the government was moved to Oneonta.
There were many schools in the town in the early years: The Academy, Blount College and the District Agricultural School, plus the public schools. The Blount County Courthouse and jail was built in 1833 and remained there until it was moved to Oneonta. A major crossroads in early Alabama, Blountsville became a Confederate depot for the cavalry. Confederate forces led by General Nathan Bedford Forrest and Union forces led by General Abel Streight skirmished briefly in the town on May 1, 1863, and Major General Lovell H. Rousseau and his Union cavalry occupied the town in July 1864. Blount College was in the building that was originally the courthouse. It was established in 1890. The beautiful Blountsville United Methodist Church was established in 1818 and is the oldest building in Blountsville and is still in use today. Another old building in Blountsville was once known as the Barclift House. Built in 1834 as Hendricks Tavern, it is now owned and is being restored by the Ortiz family.
Choose the Ideal CDL School Blountsville AL
Selecting the ideal truck driver school is a critical first step to launching your new profession as a long distance or local truck driver. The skill sets taught at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options available and understanding them is crucial if you are going to succeed as an operator. Most importantly, you must get the proper training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are short on money or financing, you might need to think about a captive school. You will pay a lower 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 choice. But no matter how you obtain your training, you will in the near future be part of an industry that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Blountsville AL.
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