How to Pick a CDL Driving School Gadsden Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a trucking school near Gadsden AL. Maybe it has always been your goal to hit the open highway while driving a huge tractor trailer. Or maybe you have conducted some research and have found that a career as a truck driver provides good wages and flexible job prospects. No matter what your reason is, it’s important to get the proper training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are a number of factors that you’ll need to consider before making your ultimate selection. Location will no doubt be important, especially if you need to commute from your Gadsden home. The expense will also be of importance, but picking a school based exclusively on price is not the best way to ensure you’ll get the right training. Don’t forget, your goal is to master the knowledge and skills that will allow you to pass the CDL exams and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that objective in mind, just how do you select a truck driving school? That is what we are going to discuss in the rest of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which CDL license you will ultimately need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Need?
In order to drive commercial vehicles lawfully within the United States and Gadsden AL, an operator needs to get a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 classes of licenses that one can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the subject of this article is how to pick a truck driver school, we will highlight Class A and 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 descriptions of the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is needed 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 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 greater than 26,000 lbs., or a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs. including a towed vehicle weighing up to 10,000 lbs. A few 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 CDLs may also need endorsements to operate specific kinds of vehicles, for instance passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper required endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to operate.
How to Research a Truck Driving School
When you have determined which CDL you would like to obtain, you can start the process of assessing the Gadsden AL truck driving schools that you are considering. As previously discussed, location and cost will undoubtedly be your primary considerations. But it can’t be stressed enough that they should not be your only concerns. Other variables, including the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly if not more important. So below are a few additional things that you should research while performing your due diligence prior to selecting, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few trucking schools in the Gadsden AL area are accredited due to the demanding process and expense to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more commonplace 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. Interested students recognize that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will be given plenty of driving time. For example, PTDI calls for 44 hours of real 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 training and curriculum will comply with the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One indicator to help measure the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in business. A poorly rated or a fly by night school typically will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the best of Gadsden AL schools had to start from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also ask what the school’s history is concerning successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won’t supply those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain relationships with regional and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only confirms an excellent 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 verify that the CDL trucking schools you are considering are in good standing.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Alabama and hire instructors that are trained and experienced. We will discuss more about the teachers in the following section. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be obtaining the personal instruction 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 claims it can train you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short period of time. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. The majority of Gadsden AL schools provide training courses that range from three weeks to as long as two months, based on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Teachers? As earlier stated, it’s essential that the teachers are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time requirements to be certified as an instructor, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also vital that the teachers keep current with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating teachers might be a bit more subjective than other criteria, and possibly the best method is to visit the school and talk to the teachers in person. You can also talk to some of the students going through the training and find out if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
Enough 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 operating a truck. Although the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are important training methods, they are no alternative for actual driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. And even though driving time differs among schools, a reasonable benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide no less than 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Gadsden AL schools you are looking at and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It’s possible to obtain 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 period of time. This is what’s known as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So rather than maintaining affiliations with a wide range of trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only refer to one company. The tradeoff is receiving free or less expensive training by surrendering the freedom to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Naturally contract training has the potential to limit your income opportunities when starting out. But for many it may be the best way to receive affordable training. Just remember to inquire if the Gadsden AL schools you are contemplating are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide CDL Testing Onsite? There are some states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its students. If onsite testing is allowed in Alabama, find out if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than competing with graduates of other schools for test times at Alabama testing facilities. It is also an indicator that the DMV considers the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Convenient? As formerly mentioned, truck driver training is only about one to two months in length. With such a brief duration, it’s important that the Gadsden AL school you choose 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 willing to dedicate 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 accommodate working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Placement Provided? The moment you have attained your CDL license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be keen to begin 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, ask which local and national trucking companies their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a lower job placement rate or not many Gadsden AL employers recruiting their graduates, it might be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? Trucking schools are similar to colleges and other Gadsden AL area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Ask if the schools you are examining have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you understand the options and forms that must be completed.
Attending Truck Driving School near Gadsden AL?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Gadsden Alabama area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Gadsden is a city in and the county seat of Etowah County in the U.S. state of Alabama. It is located on the Coosa River about 56 miles (90 km) northeast of Birmingham and 90 miles (140 km) southwest of Chattanooga, Tennessee. It is the primary city of the Gadsden Metropolitan Statistical Area, which has a population of 103,931. As of the 2010 census, the population of the city was 36,856, with an estimated population of 35,837 in 2016. Gadsden and Rome, Georgia, are the largest cities in the triangular area now defined by the interstate highways between Atlanta, Birmingham, and Chattanooga.
In the 19th century, Gadsden was at one time Alabama's second-most important center of commerce and industry, trailing only the seaport of Mobile. The two cities were important shipping centers: Gadsden for riverboats and Mobile for international trade.
From the late 19th century through the 1980s, Gadsden was a center of heavy industry, including the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company and Republic Steel. More than a decade after the sharp decline in industry, in 1991 Gadsden was awarded the honor of All-America City by the National Civic League. This honored the way Gadsden's citizens, government, businesses, and voluntary organizations have worked together to address critical local issues.
Select the Best Truck Driver School Gadsden AL
Picking the right truck driver school is an essential first step to launching your new profession as a local or long distance truck driver. The skills taught at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are several options offered and understanding them is critical 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 manner. If you are short on money or financing, you may 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 select an independent school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choice, or one of several associated with the school. It’s your choice. But regardless of how you obtain your training, you will soon be part of a profession that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Gadsden AL.
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