How to Decide on a CDL Driving School Centreville Alabama
Best wishes on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a CDL school near Centreville AL. Perhaps it has always been your ambition to hit the open highway while driving a huge tractor trailer. Or maybe you have conducted some analysis and have found that an occupation as a truck driver provides excellent pay and flexible work prospects. Regardless of what your reason is, it’s essential to obtain the appropriate training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are certain variables that you’ll need to consider prior to making your ultimate choice. Location will no doubt be an issue, particularly if you need to commute from your Centreville residence. The expense will also be important, but picking a school based exclusively on price is not the ideal means to ensure you’ll get the proper training. Just remember, your objective is to learn the knowledge and skills that will enable you to pass the CDL examinations and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that goal in mind, just how do you decide on 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 review a little bit about which commercial driver’s license you will ultimately need.
Which CDL Should You Get?
In order to drive commercial vehicles legally within the United States and Centreville AL, a driver must obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three 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 driver school, we will focus on Class A and B licenses. What distinguishes each class of CDL is the type 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 two 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. 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 CDL is needed to drive single vehicles having a GVWR of more than 26,000 lbs., or a GCWR of greater than 26,000 lbs. including a towed vehicle weighing up to 10,000 lbs. Several 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 Commercial Drivers Licenses might also require endorsements to drive specific kinds of vehicles, including passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate needed endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to operate.
How to Research a Trucking School
When you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you would like to pursue, you can begin the process of evaluating the Centreville AL trucking schools that you are considering. As already mentioned, location and cost will no doubt be your primary considerations. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they should not be your only concerns. Other variables, for instance the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly or even more important. So following are a few additional things that you need to research while conducting your due diligence before selecting, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many trucking schools in the Centreville AL area are accredited because of the demanding process and expense 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 several advantages. Prospective students recognize that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will be given plenty of driving time. For example, PTDI mandates 44 hours of actual driving time, not ride-alongs or simulations. So if a school’s course is certified (the course, not the school is certified), students know that the curriculum and training will fulfill the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One indicator to help determine the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively ranked or a fly by night school usually will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the top Centreville AL schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also find out what the school’s track record is pertaining to successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won’t share those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain relationships with regional and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only affirms an excellent reputation within the trade, but also bolsters their job placement program for students. It also wouldn’t hurt to contact the Alabama licensing department to confirm that the CDL trucker schools you are considering are in good standing.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Alabama and hire instructors that are experienced and trained. We will discuss more about the instructors in the next segment. Also, the student to instructor proportion should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be obtaining the individual attention they will need. This is especially true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And watch out for any school that professes it can teach you to be a truck driver in a relatively short period of time. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. Most Centreville AL schools offer training programs that run from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Teachers? As earlier stated, it’s imperative that the teachers are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although several states have minimum driving time criteria to be certified as an instructor, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also important that the instructors stay current with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing instructors may be a little more subjective than other standards, and perhaps the ideal approach is to check out the school and speak with the teachers in person. You can also speak with some of the students completing the training and find out if they are satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
How Much Driving Time? Above all else, a great truck driver school will provide lots of 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. Although the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are important training tools, they are no replacement for real driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will become. And even though driving time varies among schools, a good benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish at least 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Centreville AL schools you are researching and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can obtain discounted or even free training from certain truck driver schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a specific carrier for a defined time period. This is what’s known as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So rather than maintaining associations with many different 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 freedom to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Obviously contract training has the potential to reduce your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the best way to obtain affordable training. Just remember to ask if the Centreville AL schools you are contemplating are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there CDL Testing Onsite? There are several states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its grads. If onsite testing is allowed in Alabama, find out if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than competing with graduates of other schools for test times at Alabama testing centers. It is moreover an indication that the DMV deems the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Convenient? As formerly noted, CDL training is just one to two months long. With such a short term, it’s important that the Centreville AL school you select offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. For example, if you’re having a hard time learning a particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be willing 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? As soon as you have attained your commercial driver’s license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be eager to begin your new profession. Verify that the schools you are contemplating have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking companies their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a lower job placement rate or not many Centreville AL employers recruiting their graduates, it might be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Given? Truck driver schools are much like colleges and other Centreville AL area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being available. Find out if the schools you are assessing have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you understand the options and forms that must be submitted.
Attending Truck Driving School near Centreville AL?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Centreville Alabama area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Centreville has a total area of 9.6 square miles (24.9 km2), of which 9.5 square miles (24.5 km2) are land and 0.15 square miles (0.4 km2), or 1.52%, is water.
The climate in this area is characterized by hot, humid summers and generally mild to cool winters. According to the Köppen Climate Classification system, Centreville has a humid subtropical climate, abbreviated "Cfa" on climate maps. 
Centreville is the site of the highest recorded temperature in the state of Alabama. On September 6, 1925, the temperature in Centreville reached the state record of 112 ºF. The data below are for the years 1916 to 1974.
Select the Right Truck Driver School Centreville AL
Choosing the appropriate truck driver school is a critical 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 shape a new career behind the wheel. There are several options available and understanding them is critical if you are going to succeed as an operator. Most importantly, you must receive the appropriate training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are lacking money or financing, you might need to consider a captive school. You will pay a lower or in some cases no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can choose an independent school and have the option of driving for the trucking firm of your choosing, or one of several affiliated with the school. It’s your decision. But no matter how you obtain your training, you will in the near future be joining a profession that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Centreville AL.
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