How to Select a CDL Training School Fairfield Alabama
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a CDL school near Fairfield AL. Maybe it has always been your dream to hit the open highway while driving a huge tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have done some research and have found that a career as a truck driver offers good wages and flexible job opportunities. Whatever your reason is, it’s imperative to get the appropriate training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are several variables that you’ll want to examine prior to making your ultimate choice. Location will undoubtedly be important, especially if you need to commute from your Fairfield home. The cost will also be of importance, but picking a school based entirely on price is not the ideal method to ensure you’ll get the appropriate education. Don’t forget, your goal is to master the skills and knowledge that will enable you to pass the CDL examinations and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that objective in mind, just how do you choose a truck driving school? That is what we are going to address in the remainder 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?
In order to drive commercial vehicles legally within the USA and Fairfield AL, a driver needs to obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three classes of licenses that a person can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the topic of this article is how to pick a truck driving school, we will discuss Class A and Class B licenses. What differentiates 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 short summaries of 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. A few 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 Commercial Drivers License 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 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 drive certain types of vehicles, for example passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper required endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to operate.
How to Evaluate a Truck Driver School
When you have decided which CDL you wish to obtain, you can start the undertaking of assessing the Fairfield AL truck driver schools that you are considering. As previously discussed, cost and location will no doubt be your initial concerns. But it can’t be stressed enough that they must not be your only concerns. Other factors, for example the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally if not more important. So below are a few more factors that you should research while carrying out your due diligence prior to enrolling in, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few trucking schools in the Fairfield AL area are accredited because of the stringent process and cost to the schools. However, certification is more commonplace and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Interested students recognize that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will be given lots of driving time. As an example, PTDI calls for 44 hours of actual 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 curriculum and training will measure up to the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One clue to help determine the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in business. A negatively ranked or a fly by night school typically will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the best of Fairfield AL schools had to begin from their first day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also learn what the school’s track record is pertaining to successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won’t supply those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should also have associations with local and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only points to a quality reputation within the profession, but also bolsters their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn’t hurt to get in touch with the Alabama licensing authority to make sure that the CDL trucker schools you are considering are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Alabama and hire teachers that are experienced and trained. We will talk more about the teachers in the next segment. Also, the student to instructor ratio should be no higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be obtaining the personalized 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 professes it can teach you to drive trucks in a relatively short time period. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. Most Fairfield AL schools offer 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 Teachers? As already mentioned, it’s imperative that the instructors are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time prerequisites to qualify as an instructor, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also important that the instructors keep up to date with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing teachers may be a bit more subjective than other criteria, and perhaps the best method is to pay a visit to the school and speak with the instructors in person. You can also talk to some of the students going through the training and ask if they are satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
Sufficient Driving Time? Above all else, a great truck driving school will furnish lots of driving time to its students. After all, 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 simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are necessary training methods, they are no alternative for real driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. Although driving time varies 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. Get in touch with the Fairfield AL schools you are researching and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can get free or discounted training from a number of truck driver schools if you make a commitment to be a driver for a specific carrier for a defined time period. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So instead of having affiliations with many different trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only refer to one company. The tradeoff is receiving free or less expensive training by giving up the flexibility to initially work wherever you choose. Obviously contract training has the potential to limit your income prospects when starting out. But for many it may be the ideal way to receive affordable training. Just make sure to inquire if the Fairfield AL schools you are looking at are independent or captive 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 driver schools for its students. If onsite testing is permitted in Alabama, find out if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than battling with graduates of competing schools for test times at Alabama testing centers. It is moreover an indication that the DMV believes the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Accessible? As previously noted, truck driving training is just 1 to 2 months in length. With such a short duration, it’s important that the Fairfield AL school you choose offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. For example, if you’re having difficulty learning a particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be prepared to commit 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 obligations.
Is Job Assistance Provided? The moment you have obtained your commercial driver’s license after graduating from trucking school, you will be anxious to start your new career. Confirm that the schools you are looking at have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement rate is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking firms their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a lower job placement rate or not many Fairfield AL employers hiring their graduates, it may be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Truck driver schools are comparable to colleges and other Fairfield AL area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance 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 must be submitted.
Attending Truck Driving School near Fairfield AL?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Fairfield Alabama area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Fairfield is a city in western Jefferson County, Alabama, United States. It is part of the Birmingham metropolitan area and is located southeast of Pleasant Grove. The population was 11,117 at the 2010 census.
This city was founded in 1910 in which the featured speaker at the dedication ceremony was former President Theodore Roosevelt. It was originally named Corey, after an executive of U.S. Steel Corporation. The name was later changed to the city in which the President of U.S. Steel lived, Fairfield, Connecticut. It was planned as a model city by the Tennessee Coal, Iron and Railroad Company to house workers in their new Fairfield Works plant, now owned by U.S. Steel, similar to its northeastern city of Ensley.
As of the census of 2000, there were 12,381 people, 4,600 households, and 3,141 families residing in the city. The population density was 3,503.8 people per square mile (1,354.2/km²). There were 4,960 housing units at an average density of 1,403.7 per square mile (542.5/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 8.90% White, 90.23% Black or African American, 0.06% Native American, 0.15% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.17% from other races, and 0.48% from two or more races. 0.59% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
Choose the Right CDL School Fairfield AL
Picking the right truck driver school is an important 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 a number of options offered and understanding them is critical if you are going to succeed as an operator. Most importantly, you must get the proper training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are lacking money or financing, you may want to look into 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 the freedom to drive for the trucking company of your choosing, or one of many affiliated with the school. It’s your choice. But no matter how you receive your training, you will soon be entering an industry that helps America move as a professional trucker in Fairfield AL.
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