How to Choose a Truck Driver School Guntersville Alabama
Best wishes on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a CDL school near Guntersville AL. Perhaps it has always been your ambition to hit the open highway while operating a huge tractor trailer. Or maybe you have conducted some analysis and have discovered that a career as a truck driver provides good income and flexible job prospects. Whatever your reason is, it’s imperative to get the proper training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are various factors that you’ll want to think about before making your final selection. Location will undoubtedly be an issue, particularly if you have to commute from your Guntersville home. The expense will also be of importance, but choosing a school based entirely on price is not the optimal method to make sure you’ll receive the appropriate education. Don’t forget, your objective 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 purpose 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 remainder of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which CDL license you will ultimately need.
Which CDL Will You Require?
To operate commercial vehicles legally within the United States and Guntersville AL, an operator must obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three license classes that a person can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the subject of this article is how to choose 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 together with the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Below are brief explanations for the 2 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 greater 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 CDL 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. 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 might also require endorsements to drive certain kinds of vehicles, for example school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate needed endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to operate.
How to Assess a Trucking School
As soon as you have decided which CDL you want to obtain, you can start the undertaking of researching the Guntersville AL trucking 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 should not be your only considerations. Other variables, for example the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly if not more important. So below are some more factors that you should research while conducting your due diligence prior to enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many truck driver schools in the Guntersville AL area are accredited because of the demanding process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, 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 a number of advantages. Potential students recognize that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will be given plenty of driving time. For 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 training and curriculum will satisfy the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help measure the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in business. A poorly ranked or a fly by night school typically will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the top Guntersville AL schools had to start from their first day of training, so use it as one of several qualifiers. You can also find out what the school’s track record is relating to successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won’t share those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should also have associations with regional and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only affirms an excellent reputation within the industry, but also bolsters their job placement program for students. It also wouldn’t hurt to get in touch with the Alabama licensing authority to confirm that the CDL trucking schools you are researching are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in Alabama and hire instructors that are trained and experienced. We will cover more about the instructors in the following section. Also, the student to instructor ratio should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be getting the personalized 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 insists it can train you to be a truck driver in a relatively short time period. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. The majority of Guntersville AL schools provide training courses that run from three weeks to as long as two months, depending on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Instructors? As previously mentioned, it’s essential that the instructors are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though several states have minimum driving time requirements to be certified as a teacher, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also important that the instructors keep current with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating instructors may be a little more intuitive than other criteria, and perhaps the best approach is to pay a visit to the school and speak with the teachers face to face. You can also speak with a few of the students completing the training and ask if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
Plenty of Driving Time? Above all else, an excellent trucking school will provide lots of driving time to its students. After all, isn’t that what it’s all about? Driving time is the actual time spent behind the wheel operating a truck. Even though the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are essential training methods, they are no substitute for actual driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. And even though driving time fluctuates among schools, a good standard is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish no less than 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Guntersville AL schools you are researching and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can receive discounted or even free training from some truck driving schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a specified carrier for a defined amount of time. This is called contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So instead of maintaining associations with numerous trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only work with one company. The benefit is receiving free or less expensive training by giving up the freedom to initially work wherever you choose. Naturally contract training has the potential to restrict your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the best way to get affordable training. Just make sure to inquire if the Guntersville AL schools you are considering 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 graduates. If onsite testing is available in Alabama, ask if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than battling with graduates of competing schools for test times at Alabama testing locations. It is also an indicator that the DMV views the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Convenient? As previously mentioned, CDL training is just 1 to 2 months long. With such a brief term, it’s imperative that the Guntersville AL school you select offers flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. For example, if you’re having difficulty learning a certain 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 going to training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Assistance Offered? Once 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 contemplating have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking companies their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a low job placement rate or few Guntersville AL employers hiring their graduates, it might be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Truck driver schools are comparable to colleges and other Guntersville AL area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have a financial aid 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 Guntersville AL?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Guntersville Alabama area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Guntersville (previously known as Gunter's Ferry and later Gunter's Landing) is a city in Marshall County, Alabama, United States. At the 2010 census, the population of the city was 8,197. The city is the county seat of Marshall County. Guntersville is located in a HUBZone as identified by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 42.4 square miles (109.9 km2), of which 25.4 square miles (65.8 km2) is land and 17.0 square miles (44.1 km2), or 40.14%, is water.
Guntersville is located at the southernmost point of the Tennessee River on Lake Guntersville, formed by the Guntersville Dam (built by the Tennessee Valley Authority). Geologically, the lake occupies a southern extension of Sequatchie Valley, which continues south as Browns Valley.
Choose the Best Truck Driving School Guntersville AL
Choosing the appropriate truck driving school is an important first step to beginning your new vocation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skills taught at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options offered and understanding them is crucial if you are going to succeed as an operator. But first and foremost, you must obtain the necessary training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are lacking funds or financing, you may need to consider a captive school. You will pay a reduced or even no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can select an independent school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking firm of your choosing, or one of many affiliated with the school. It’s your choice. But no matter how you obtain your training, you will in the near future be part of a profession that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Guntersville AL.
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