How to Select a Trucking School Calera Alabama
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a CDL school near Calera AL. Maybe it has always been your dream to hit the open road while driving a big ole tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have conducted some research and have discovered that a career as a truck driver provides good income and flexible work opportunities. Regardless of what your reason is, it’s important to receive the appropriate training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are several variables that you’ll need to think about prior to making your final choice. Location will undoubtedly be important, especially if you have to commute from your Calera residence. The cost will also be important, but picking a school based only on price is not the best method to make certain you’ll get the proper training. Don’t forget, your objective is to master the skills and knowledge that will enable you to pass the CDL exams and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that objective in mind, just how do you select a truck driving school? That is what we are going to cover in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which CDL license you will ultimately need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Should You Get?
To operate commercial vehicles legally within the USA and Calera AL, a driver needs to obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three license classes that a driver 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 discuss 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 explanations of the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is required to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of greater than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of more than 10,000 lbs. Some 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 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. 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 require endorsements to operate specific kinds of vehicles, for instance passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper required endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to operate.
How to Research a CDL School
When you have decided which CDL you wish to obtain, you can start the undertaking of researching the Calera AL trucking schools that you are considering. As already mentioned, cost and location will no doubt be your initial concerns. But it can’t be stressed enough that they must not be your only considerations. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally or even more important. So below are a few additional points that you should research while conducting your due diligence before enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many truck driving schools in the Calera AL area are accredited due to the demanding process and expense to the schools. However, certification is more common and is offered 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 caliber, and that they will get lots of driving time. As an 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 training and curriculum will fulfill the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help measure the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively rated or a fly by night school usually will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the best of Calera AL schools had to start from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also find out what the school’s history is regarding successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won’t share those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain associations with regional and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only affirms a superior reputation within the profession, but also bolsters their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to check with the Alabama licensing department to confirm that the CDL trucking schools you are considering are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in Alabama and hire teachers that are experienced and trained. We will talk more about the instructors in the following segment. Also, the student to instructor proportion should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be obtaining the individual attention they will need. This is particularly true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And look out for any school that insists it can train you to drive trucks in a comparatively short time frame. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. The majority of Calera AL schools provide training programs that range from three weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Instructors? As previously mentioned, it’s important that the teachers are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although several states have minimum driving time requirements to qualify as an instructor, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also important that the instructors stay current with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating instructors may be a bit more subjective than other standards, and possibly the best method is to pay a visit to the school and talk to the teachers in person. You can also talk to a few of the students completing the training and ask if they are happy with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
Enough Driving Time? Most importantly, an excellent truck driving 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 operating a truck. Even though the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are necessary training tools, they are no alternative for actual driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. Although driving time varies among schools, a reasonable benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish at least 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Calera AL schools you are researching and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It’s possible to receive free or discounted training from some truck driving schools if you make a commitment to drive for a specific carrier for a defined period of time. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So instead of having affiliations with a wide range of trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only work with one company. The benefit is receiving less expensive or even free training by giving up the flexibility to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Clearly contract training has the potential to limit your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the only way to get affordable training. Just remember to inquire if the Calera AL schools you are looking at are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer Onsite CDL Testing? There are several states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is allowed in Alabama, find out if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than battling with graduates of competing schools for test times at Alabama testing locations. It is moreover an indication that the DMV believes the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Accessible? As formerly noted, CDL training is only about 1 to 2 months in length. With such a short term, it’s essential that the Calera AL school you select offers flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. For example, if you’re having a hard time learning a certain driving maneuver, then the teacher should be prepared to commit more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you’re still holding a job while going to training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Assistance Provided? The moment you have obtained your CDL license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be anxious to start your new profession. Confirm that the schools you are considering have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement rate is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking firms their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a lower job placement rate or few Calera AL employers hiring their graduates, it may be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Given? Trucking schools are comparable to colleges and other Calera AL area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being available. Ask if the schools you are evaluating have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you get through the options and forms that must be submitted.
Attending Truck Driving School near Calera AL?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Calera Alabama area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
As of the 2010 census the population had more than tripled to 11,620, making it the fastest-growing city in Alabama. It is within the Birmingham-Hoover, Alabama Metropolitan Statistical Area and positively affected by the growth in its economy.
Calera is located in southern Shelby County at 33°06′27″N 86°45′00″W / 33.107572°N 86.749964°W / 33.107572; -86.749964. The city limits extend southward into Chilton County along U.S. Route 31, the main highway through the city. Interstate 65 passes through the eastern side of the city, with access from exits 228, 231, and 234.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 24.4 square miles (63.1 km2), of which 24.1 square miles (62.4 km2) is land and 0.27 square miles (0.7 km2), or 1.17%, is water.
Select the Right Truck Driving School Calera AL
Choosing the appropriate truck driver school is an important first step to starting your new profession as a local or long distance truck driver. The skill sets 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 drive a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are lacking funds or financing, you might need 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 the freedom to drive for the trucking firm of your choosing, or one of several associated with the school. It’s your decision. But regardless of how you receive your training, you will soon be part of an industry that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Calera AL.
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