How to Choose a CDL Driving School near Aliceville Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a CDL school near Aliceville AL. Perhaps it has always been your ambition to hit the open road while operating a big ole tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have done some analysis and have found that a career as a truck driver offers excellent pay and flexible work opportunities. No matter what your reason is, it’s essential to obtain the appropriate training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are a number of factors that you’ll need to think about prior to making your final choice. Location will no doubt be important, especially if you have to commute from your Aliceville home. The expense will also be of importance, but picking a school based only on price is not the best method to make certain you’ll obtain the right education. Don’t forget, your objective is to master the knowledge and skills that will enable you to pass the CDL exams and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that purpose in mind, just how do you decide on a truck driving school? That is what we are going to discuss in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which CDL license you will eventually need.
Which CDL Will You Need?
In order to operate commercial vehicles lawfully within the USA and Aliceville AL, a driver must obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 classes of licenses that a driver can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the topic 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 kind of vehicle that the driver can operate as well as the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Below are brief descriptions of the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is required to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of more than 10,000 lbs. Several 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 drive single vehicles having a GVWR of more than 26,000 lbs., or a GCWR of greater than 26,000 lbs. including a towed vehicle weighing up to 10,000 lbs. Several 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 might also need endorsements to drive certain types of vehicles, for example passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper needed endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to operate.
How to Evaluate a Trucking School
After you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you would like to pursue, you can start the undertaking of evaluating the Aliceville AL trucking schools that you are considering. As already mentioned, location and cost will undoubtedly be your primary concerns. But it can’t be stressed enough that they must not be your sole considerations. Other variables, for instance the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally or even more important. So below are some more points that you should research while performing your due diligence prior to choosing, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few truck driving schools in the Aliceville AL area are accredited due to the stringent process and expense to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more typical and is offered 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 standard, and that they will be given lots of driving time. For example, PTDI mandates 44 hours of actual 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 training and curriculum will fulfill the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help assess the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively ranked or a fly by night school usually will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the best of Aliceville AL schools had to begin from their first day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifications. You can also learn what the school’s history is relating to successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won’t provide those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should also maintain relationships with regional and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only affirms an excellent reputation within the trade, but also boosts their job placement program for students. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to check with the Alabama licensing authority to make sure that the CDL trucker schools you are reviewing are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Alabama and hire teachers that are trained and experienced. We will talk more about the instructors in the next section. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should not be greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be receiving the individual attention 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 professes it can train you to be a truck driver in a relatively short period of time. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. Most Aliceville AL schools provide training programs that range from three weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Teachers? As earlier stated, it’s important that the instructors are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time prerequisites to qualify as a teacher, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also important that the teachers keep up to date with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing instructors might be a bit more subjective than other criteria, and possibly the ideal method is to visit the school and talk to the instructors face to face. You can also talk to some of the students going through the training and find out if they are satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
Adequate Driving Time? Most importantly, a great truck driving school will furnish lots of driving time to its students. Besides, isn’t that what it’s all about? Driving time is the real time spent behind the wheel operating a truck. Although the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are important training methods, they are no alternative for real driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will become. And even though driving time differs between schools, a good benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Aliceville AL schools you are considering and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It’s possible to get discounted or even free training from a number of trucking schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a particular carrier for a defined period of time. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than maintaining relationships 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 be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Obviously 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 remember to find out if the Aliceville AL schools you are contemplating are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer CDL Testing Onsite? There are several states that will permit 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 provide it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than contending with graduates from competing schools for test times at Alabama testing locations. It is also an indicator that the DMV deems the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Convenient? As previously mentioned, truck driver training is just 1 to 2 months in length. With such a short term, it’s essential that the Aliceville AL school you enroll in offers flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. For example, if you’re having difficulty learning a particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be prepared to spend more time with you until you are proficient. And if you’re still employed while attending training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Assistance Offered? As soon as you have acquired your CDL license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be impatient to begin your new career. Verify that the schools you are considering have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking companies their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a poor job placement rate or not many Aliceville AL employers hiring their grads, it may be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Given? Truck driver schools are much like colleges and other Aliceville AL area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you understand the options and forms that need to be submitted.
Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Aliceville AL?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Aliceville Alabama area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Aliceville is a city in Pickens County, Alabama, located thirty-six miles west of Tuscaloosa. At the 2010 census its population was 2,486, down from 2,567 in 2000. Founded in the first decade of the 20th century and incorporated in 1907, the town has become notable for its World War II-era prisoner-of-war camp, Camp Aliceville. Since 1930, it has been the largest town in Pickens County. On February 2, 2016, the town was hit by an EF2 tornado, causing heavy damage in the area.
In 1902 the settlement that would become Aliceville was founded with the opening of a single store. The town was named in honor of the wife of John T. Cochrane, founder of the Alabama, Tennessee and Northern Railroad and moving force behind the construction of the short line from Carrollton, Alabama to Aliceville. Within two years of the completion of the short line, Aliceville had grown to what the Montgomery Advertiser called in 1905 "a town of considerable pretensions. There are about a dozen stores, a bank, public buildings and numerous enterprises."
In 1907 an election was scheduled to allow the citizens of Aliceville to decide whether their town should be incorporated. Incorporation was approved by the town's voters, and on March 19, 1907, a municipal election was held to choose town officers, including a mayor and five aldermen: T.H. Sommerville, J.M. Summerville, A. Hood, J.D. Sanders, W.E. Stringfellow, and J.B. Cunningham, respectively.
Pick the Ideal CDL School Aliceville AL
Picking the right trucking school is a critical first step to beginning your new vocation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skill sets taught at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options available and understanding them is vital if you are going to succeed as an operator. But first and foremost, you must obtain the proper training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are lacking money or financing, you might need to think about a captive school. You will pay a reduced or in some cases no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can select an independent trucker school and have the option of driving for the trucking firm of your choosing, or one of several associated with the school. It’s your choice. But no matter how you get your training, you will soon be joining a profession that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Aliceville AL.
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