How to Pick a Truck Driving School Cottondale Alabama
Best wishes on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a trucking school near Cottondale AL. Perhaps it has always been your dream to hit the open road while operating a big ole tractor trailer. Or maybe you have done some research and have found that an occupation as a truck driver provides good income and flexible job prospects. Whatever your reason is, it’s essential to receive the proper training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are certain variables that you’ll want to examine prior to making your ultimate selection. Location will certainly be an issue, particularly if you need to commute from your Cottondale home. The cost will also be important, but picking a school based entirely on price is not the optimal way to make sure you’ll get the right education. 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 decide on a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to discuss in the balance of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which CDL license you will eventually need.
Which CDL Will You Require?
To drive commercial vehicles legally within the United States and Cottondale AL, a driver needs to obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 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 choose a truck driver school, we will highlight Class A and Class B licenses. What differentiates 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 of the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is required to operate any vehicle that has a GCWR of greater than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of greater than 10,000 lbs. Several 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 greater than 26,000 lbs. including a towed vehicle weighing up to 10,000 lbs. Several 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 certain types of vehicles, including school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper needed endorsements, can drive 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 begin the process of assessing the Cottondale AL trucking 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 sole considerations. Other variables, including the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally or even more important. So following are several additional factors that you need to research while carrying out your due diligence prior to choosing, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many trucking schools in the Cottondale AL area are accredited due to the rigorous process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more typical and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are a number of advantages. Potential students recognize that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will get lots of driving time. As an example, PTDI requires 44 hours of real driving time, not simulations or ride-alongs. So if a school’s program is certified (the program, not the school is certified), students know that the training and curriculum will satisfy the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One clue to help measure the quality of a truck driving 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. On the other hand, even the top Cottondale AL schools had to start from their first day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also learn what the school’s history is relating to successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won’t provide those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain relationships with regional and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only points to a superior reputation within the trade, but also boosts their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn’t hurt to contact the Alabama licensing department to confirm that the CDL trucker schools you are reviewing are in good standing.
How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in Alabama and hire teachers that are experienced and trained. We will cover more about the instructors in the next segment. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should be no higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be receiving the personalized instruction they will need. This is especially true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And look out for any school that professes it can teach you to drive trucks in a comparatively short time period. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. Most Cottondale AL schools provide training programs that run from three weeks to as long as two months, depending on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Instructors? As already stated, it’s important that the teachers are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although a number of states have minimum driving time prerequisites to be certified as an instructor, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also crucial that the instructors keep up to date with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing instructors may be a bit more intuitive than other standards, and possibly the ideal method is to pay a visit to the school and speak with the instructors in person. You can also speak with some of the students completing the training and find out if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
How Much Driving Time? Above all else, a good trucking school will furnish ample 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 necessary training methods, they are no substitute for actual driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. Although driving time fluctuates between schools, a reasonable benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide no less than 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Cottondale AL schools you are researching and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It’s possible to receive discounted or even free training from certain truck driving schools if you make a commitment to drive for a particular carrier for a defined period of time. This is called contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than having affiliations with a wide range of trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only work with one company. The benefit is receiving free or less expensive training by surrendering the freedom to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Clearly contract training has the potential to restrict your income prospects when starting out. But for some it may be the only way to get affordable training. Just make sure to find out if the Cottondale AL schools you are looking at are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide CDL Testing Onsite? There are some states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its students. If onsite testing is permitted in Alabama, find out if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than competing with graduates of other schools for test times at Alabama testing facilities. It is also an indication that the DMV regards the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Convenient? As previously noted, truck driving training is just 1 to 2 months long. With such a brief term, it’s essential that the Cottondale AL school you enroll in provides flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. As an example, if you’re having a hard time learning a particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be prepared to spend more time with you until you are proficient. And if you’re still employed while going to training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Assistance Provided? The moment you have attained your CDL license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be anxious to start your new profession. Make sure that the schools you are considering have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement rate is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking companies their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a low job placement rate or few Cottondale AL employers recruiting their graduates, it might be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Trucking schools are much like colleges and other Cottondale 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 assessing have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you understand the options and forms that must be completed.
Attending Truck Driving School near Cottondale AL?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Cottondale Alabama area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Richard Price Rummonds
Richard Price Rummonds (also known as Richard-Gabriel Price Rummonds), one of the foremost handpress printers of the late twentieth century, is also an author, publisher, typographer, and historian of printing. His two books on nineteenth-century printing, Printing on the Iron Handpress and Nineteenth-Century Printing Practices and the Iron Handpress, comprehensively describe the history, operation and merits of the iron handpress.
Born on April 26, 1931, in Long Beach, California, Rummonds was raised in Sacramento, California. He attended Syracuse University in 1949–1950, in the School of Fine Arts, with the intention of majoring in set and costume design and the University of California at Berkeley intermittently between 1950 and 1954, where he majored in English and Creative Writing. During this period he was on the staff of Occident, the student literary magazine, of which he became the editor for the Spring 1954 issue.
Rummonds began printing in Quito, Ecuador in 1966, using the Plain Wrapper Press imprint. His first book was a selection of his own poems. The following year in Buenos Aires, Argentina, he printed a book of his short stories.
Select the Ideal Truck Driver School Cottondale AL
Picking the ideal trucking school is an important first step to beginning your new occupation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skill sets that you will learn at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options available and understanding them is critical to a new driver’s success. But first and foremost, you must receive the proper training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are lacking money or financing, you may want to look into a captive school. You will pay a lower 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 the freedom to drive for the trucking company 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 in the near future be entering an industry that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Cottondale AL.
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