How to Decide on a CDL Training School Goodwater Alabama
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a trucking school near Goodwater AL. Maybe it has always been your goal to hit the open highway while operating a monster tractor trailer. Or possibly you have conducted some analysis and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver provides excellent wages and flexible work opportunities. No matter what your reason is, it’s important to obtain the proper training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are a number of variables that you’ll want to consider prior to making your ultimate choice. Location will certainly be an issue, particularly if you need to commute from your Goodwater home. The cost will also be important, but picking a school based solely on price is not the best way to ensure you’ll receive the appropriate training. Don’t forget, your objective is to learn the knowledge and skills that will allow you to pass the CDL examinations and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that purpose in mind, just how do you select a truck driving school? That is what we are going to discuss in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which commercial driver’s license you will ultimately need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Should You Get?
To drive commercial vehicles legally within the United States and Goodwater AL, a driver must attain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 license classes that a person can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the topic of this article is how to choose a truck driver school, we will focus on Class A and Class B licenses. What differentiates each class of CDL is the kind of vehicle that the driver can operate in addition to the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Following are short descriptions of 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. 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 Commercial Drivers License is required to operate 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 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 need endorsements to operate certain kinds of vehicles, including passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate required endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to operate.
How to Assess a Truck Driver School
After you have determined which CDL you would like to obtain, you can begin the process of assessing the Goodwater AL truck driver schools that you are considering. As already mentioned, cost and location will certainly be your initial considerations. But it can’t be stressed enough that they should not be your only concerns. Other variables, including the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly if not more important. So below are several more points that you should research while conducting your due diligence prior to choosing, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many truck driver schools in the Goodwater AL area are accredited because of the stringent process and cost to the schools. However, certification is more common 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 quality, and that they will receive an ample amount of driving time. As an example, PTDI requires 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 curriculum and training will measure up to the very high standards 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 business. A negatively reviewed or a fly by night school normally will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the best of Goodwater AL schools had to begin from their first day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also find out what the school’s history is relating to successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won’t supply those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should also maintain associations with local and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only points to an excellent reputation within the profession, but also bolsters their job placement program for students. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to get in touch with the Alabama licensing authority to make sure that the CDL trucking schools you are reviewing are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in Alabama and employ instructors that are trained and experienced. We will cover more about the teachers in the following segment. Also, the student to instructor proportion should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be obtaining the individual instruction they will need. This is particularly true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And be critical of any school that insists it can teach you to drive trucks in a comparatively short period of time. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. Most Goodwater AL schools provide training courses that range from three weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Instructors? As earlier stated, it’s essential that the teachers are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although 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 important that the instructors stay current with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating instructors may be a little more subjective than other criteria, and perhaps the best method is to visit the school and talk to the instructors face to face. You can also speak with a few of the students completing the training and find out if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
Enough Driving Time? Most importantly, a great trucking school will furnish ample 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 driving a truck. While the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are essential training methods, they are no alternative for real driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. Although driving time fluctuates among schools, a good benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Goodwater AL schools you are considering and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It’s possible to obtain free or discounted training from certain truck driver schools if you make a commitment 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 having 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 surrendering the freedom to initially work wherever you choose. Clearly contract training has the potential to reduce your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the best way to get affordable training. Just be sure to inquire if the Goodwater AL schools you are considering are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide CDL Testing Onsite? There are a number of states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its students. If onsite testing is allowed in Alabama, ask if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than contending with graduates of competing schools for test times at Alabama testing locations. It is also an indication that the DMV deems the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Convenient? As earlier noted, truck driving training is only about 1 to 2 months in length. With such a brief term, it’s important that the Goodwater AL school you select provides flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. For example, if you’re having a hard time learning a particular driving maneuver, then the teacher should be prepared to devote more time with you until you are proficient. And if you’re still holding a job while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Assistance Offered? As soon as you have acquired your commercial driver’s license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be anxious to begin your new career. Verify that the schools you are contemplating have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking firms their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a poor job placement rate or not many Goodwater AL employers recruiting their grads, it might be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Truck driving schools are similar to colleges and other Goodwater AL area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being offered. 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 need to be completed.
Attending Truck Driving School near Goodwater AL?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Goodwater Alabama area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
As of the census of 2000, there were 1,633 people, 621 households, and 424 families residing in the city. The population density was 249.6 people per square mile (96.4/km²). There were 727 housing units at an average density of 111.1 per square mile (42.9/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 73.30% Black or African American, 25.66% White, 0.31% Native American, 0.12% Asian, 0.06% from other races, and 0.55% from two or more races. 0.55% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
In the city, the population was spread out with 25.3% under the age of 18, 8.3% from 18 to 24, 25.3% from 25 to 44, 23.4% from 45 to 64, and 17.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females, there were 87.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 80.7 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $22,188, and the median income for a family was $28,819. Males had a median income of $22,414 versus $17,464 for females. The per capita income for the city was $10,602. About 21.0% of families and 23.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 33.8% of those under age 18 and 12.0% of those age 65 or over.
Choose the Right Truck Driving School Goodwater AL
Choosing the appropriate truck driving school is an important first step to launching your new profession as a local or long distance truck driver. The skills that you will learn at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are many options offered and understanding them is crucial if you are going to succeed as an operator. But first and foremost, you must receive the necessary training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are lacking cash or financing, you might want to consider a captive school. You will pay a reduced or even no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can choose an independent school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking company of your choice, or one of many affiliated with the school. It’s your decision. But no matter 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 Goodwater AL.
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