How to Pick a CDL Driving School Grove Hill Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a CDL school near Grove Hill AL. Maybe it has always been your fantasy to hit the open road while driving a huge tractor trailer. Or possibly you have done some analysis and have found that an occupation as a truck driver offers good wages and flexible job opportunities. Whatever your reason is, it’s imperative to obtain the appropriate training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are various variables that you’ll want to think about prior to making your final selection. Location will undoubtedly be an issue, particularly if you have to commute from your Grove Hill residence. The cost will also be of importance, but picking a school based solely on price is not the optimal means to guarantee you’ll obtain the appropriate training. Don’t forget, your objective is to master the skills and knowledge that will enable you to pass the CDL exams and become a professional 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 cover 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 Should You Get?
In order to operate commercial vehicles lawfully within the United States and Grove Hill AL, a driver needs to get a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three classes of licenses that a driver can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the subject of this article is how to pick a truck driving school, we will focus on Class A and 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 of the two 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 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 Commercial Drivers License is needed to operate single vehicles having a GVWR of greater than 26,000 lbs., or a GCWR of greater 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 Commercial Drivers Licenses may also need endorsements to operate certain kinds of vehicles, such as passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper required endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to drive.
How to Research a CDL School
After you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you want to obtain, you can start the undertaking of researching the Grove Hill AL truck driver schools that you are looking at. As previously discussed, location and cost will undoubtedly be your primary concerns. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they should not be your sole considerations. Other issues, for example the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally if not more important. So following are some more points that you should research while conducting your due diligence before selecting, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few trucking schools in the Grove Hill AL area are accredited because of 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 obligated to become certified, but there are a number of advantages. Interested students know that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will receive plenty of driving time. For example, PTDI mandates 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 curriculum and training will fulfill the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help evaluate the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in business. A negatively ranked or a fly by night school usually will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the top Grove Hill AL schools had to begin from their first 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 provide those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should also maintain relationships with local and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only affirms a quality reputation within the profession, but also boosts their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to contact the Alabama licensing authority to make sure that the CDL trucking schools you are reviewing are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Alabama and employ teachers that are experienced and trained. We will discuss more about the teachers in the next section. Also, the student to instructor ratio should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be receiving the individual 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 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 requires time. The majority of Grove Hill AL schools offer 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 previously stated, it’s important 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 prerequisites to qualify as a teacher, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also important that the instructors stay up to date with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing teachers might be a little more subjective than other criteria, and perhaps the best method is to check out the school and talk to the teachers 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 ability to train them.
Plenty of Driving Time? Above all else, a great truck driver 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 driving a truck. Even though the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are essential training methods, they are no alternative for real driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. And even though driving time varies between schools, a reasonable benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide at least 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Grove Hill AL schools you are looking at and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can get free or discounted training from certain truck driving schools if you enter into an agreement 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 offer it are called captives. So instead of maintaining relationships with numerous 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 giving up the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Clearly contract training has the potential to restrict your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the only way to get affordable training. Just make sure to find out if the Grove Hill AL schools you are looking at are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer CDL Testing Onsite? There are some states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is available in Alabama, find out if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than contending with graduates from other schools for test times at Alabama testing centers. It is moreover an indication that the DMV views the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Accessible? As previously noted, truck driver training is only about 1 to 2 months long. With such a brief term, it’s imperative that the Grove Hill AL school you select 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 dedicate more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you’re still working while attending training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Assistance Provided? Once you have obtained your commercial driver’s license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be impatient to start your new profession. Make sure that the schools you are considering have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking firms their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a low job placement rate or not many Grove Hill AL employers recruiting their graduates, it might be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Truck driving schools are similar to colleges and other Grove Hill AL area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being available. Find out if the schools you are assessing have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you get through the options and forms that must be submitted.
Attending Truck Driving School near Grove Hill AL?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Grove Hill Alabama area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Grove Hill, Alabama
The area that is now Grove Hill was originally inhabited by Creek and Choctaw Indians. The county seat of Clarke County was established at what later became Grove Hill in 1832 as the spot was most central to the rest of the county. Known variously as Smithville, then Macon, the name Grove Hill was selected around 1850 for the large grove of oak trees on the plateau. The town was officially incorporated and chartered in 1929. In 1853, a yellow fever epidemic struck the town, killing many residents, almost wiping out the town.
The Grove Hill area has numerous sites on the National Register of Historic Places including the Alston-Cobb House, Bush House, John A. Coate House, Cobb House, Dickinson House, Fort Sinquefield, and the Grove Hill Courthouse Square Historic District.
As of the census of 2010, there were 1,570 people, 615 households, and 402 families residing in the town. The racial makeup of the town was 56.6% White, 41.3% Black or African American, 0.3% Native American, 0.5% from other races, and 1.0% from two or more races. 2.0% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
Pick the Right Truck Driver School Grove Hill AL
Selecting the right truck driver school is an essential first step to beginning your new vocation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skill sets that you will learn at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are many options available and understanding them is crucial if you are going to succeed as an operator. But first and foremost, you must obtain the proper training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are short on cash or financing, you might want to consider a captive school. You will pay a reduced or in some cases no tuition in exchange for driving 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 no matter how you receive your training, you will in the near future be joining a profession that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Grove Hill AL.
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