How to Choose a CDL Driving School Columbiana Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a CDL school near Columbiana AL. Maybe it has always been your dream to hit the open road while driving a monster tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have done some analysis and have discovered that a career as a truck driver provides excellent wages and flexible job prospects. No matter what your reason is, it’s important to obtain the proper training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are several factors that you’ll need to think about before making your final choice. Location will undoubtedly be an issue, particularly if you have to commute from your Columbiana home. The expense will also be of importance, but choosing a school based entirely on price is not the best method to make sure you’ll obtain the right training. Just remember, your objective 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 pick a truck driving school? That is what we are going to cover in the balance of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which CDL license you will eventually need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Should You Get?
In order to operate commercial vehicles lawfully within the USA and Columbiana AL, an operator needs to get a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 classes of licenses that a driver can apply 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 Class B licenses. What distinguishes each class of CDL is the kind of vehicle that the driver can operate as well as the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Following are short explanations for the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is needed to operate any vehicle that has a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of more 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 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 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 may also require endorsements to drive specific types of vehicles, including passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate needed endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to operate.
How to Assess a CDL School
As soon as you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you would like to pursue, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating the Columbiana AL truck driver schools that you are considering. As earlier discussed, location and cost will undoubtedly be your initial concerns. But it can’t be stressed enough that they must not be your only concerns. Other factors, such as the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally or even more important. So following are a few additional points that you need to research while conducting your due diligence prior to choosing, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many trucking schools in the Columbiana AL area are accredited due to the demanding process and cost to the schools. However, certification is more prevalent and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are several advantages. Interested students know that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will be given an ample amount of driving time. As an example, PTDI mandates 44 hours of real driving time, not simulations or ride-alongs. So if a school’s course is certified (the course, not the school is certified), students know that the training and curriculum will satisfy the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help evaluate the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly rated or a fly by night school normally will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the top Columbiana AL schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also ask what the school’s track record is regarding successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won’t share those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain relationships with local and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only confirms an excellent reputation within the trade, but also bolsters their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn’t hurt to contact the Alabama licensing authority to make sure that the CDL trucker schools you are researching are in compliance.
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 talk more about the teachers in the next segment. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be receiving the personalized instruction they will need. This is especially true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And be critical of any school that claims it can teach you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short period of time. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. The majority of Columbiana AL schools provide training programs that range from 3 weeks to as long as two months, depending on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Trainers? As earlier stated, it’s essential that the instructors are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though several states have minimum driving time prerequisites to be certified as an instructor, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also crucial that the instructors stay up to date with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating teachers may be a little more subjective than other criteria, and perhaps the ideal method is to check out the school and talk to the instructors in person. You can also speak with a few of the students going through the training and find out if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
Plenty of Driving Time? Most importantly, a great truck driver school will provide lots of 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 important training methods, they are no substitute for real driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. And even though driving time varies 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. Get in touch with the Columbiana AL schools you are researching and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It’s possible to obtain discounted or even free training from certain truck driver schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a specific carrier for a defined time period. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So rather than having associations with a wide range of trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only refer to one company. The benefit is receiving less expensive or even free training by giving up the flexibility to initially work wherever you choose. Clearly contract training has the potential to limit your income opportunities when starting out. But for some it may be the best way to receive affordable training. Just make sure to find out if the Columbiana AL schools you are considering are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there Onsite CDL Testing? There are some states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its grads. If onsite testing is permitted in Alabama, find out if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than contending with graduates of competing schools for test times at Alabama testing facilities. It is moreover an indication that the DMV believes the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Flexible? As previously noted, truck driver training is only about one to two months in length. With such a brief term, it’s imperative that the Columbiana AL school you choose provides flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. As an example, if you’re having a hard time learning a certain driving maneuver, then the instructor should be willing to devote more time with you until you are proficient. And if you’re still employed while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Placement Provided? Once you have obtained your commercial driver’s license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be eager to start your new profession. 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 national and local trucking firms their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a low job placement rate or few Columbiana AL employers recruiting their grads, it might be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Trucking schools are comparable to colleges and other Columbiana AL area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you understand the options and forms that must be completed.
Attending Truck Driving School near Columbiana AL?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Columbiana Alabama area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Columbiana, originally called Columbia, was selected as the county seat of Shelby County in 1826 over rivals Calera and Montevallo. After the selection as the county seat, Columbiana celebrated by drilling holes in a large pine tree and packing it with gunpowder. The tree was blown up and the sound could be heard for miles. Later in 1826, the courthouse was moved to an old school building in Columbiana.
An act of the Alabama Legislature officially changed the name of Shelby County’s county seat to Columbiana on January 13, 1832. Columbiana was incorporated on December 5, 1837 with corporate limits one-quarter of a mile in each direction from the public square.
In 1854, the decision was made to build a larger courthouse at the south end of “Silk Stocking Road”, now Main Street. From 1854 to 1908 several additions and changes were made to the courthouse. During the American Civil War, Columbiana was connected to the nearby town of Shelby by the Shelby Iron Company Railroad, which connected the Shelby Iron Works to the Alabama and Tennessee River Railroad. The Iron Works supplied iron to the C.B. Churchill and Company foundry, which moved to Columbiana in 1862 after the fall of Corinth, Mississippi. The Churchill foundry made eight and ten pound shot, eight and ten pound shells, and shells for Blakely rifles. The C.B. Churchill and Company foundry, Shelby Iron Works and the railroad were destroyed by Union forces on March 31, 1865, as part of Wilson's Raid.
Select the Ideal Trucking School Columbiana AL
Picking the right truck driving school is a critical first step to launching your new profession as a long distance or local truck driver. The skills taught at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are many options available and understanding them is crucial to a new driver’s success. But first and foremost, you must receive the appropriate training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are short on money or financing, you may want to consider a captive school. You will pay a lower or even 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 company of your choosing, or one of several affiliated with the school. It’s your decision. But regardless of how you obtain your training, you will in the near future be joining an industry that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Columbiana AL.
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