How to Select a CDL Driving School near Allgood Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a truck driving school near Allgood AL. Maybe it has always been your ambition to hit the open highway while driving a big ole tractor trailer. Or maybe you have conducted some research and have discovered that a career as a truck driver provides excellent income and flexible work opportunities. No matter what your reason is, it’s important to receive the appropriate training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are a number of variables that you’ll want to examine before making your ultimate selection. Location will certainly be an issue, especially if you need to commute from your Allgood home. The cost will also be of importance, but picking a school based exclusively on price is not the best method to ensure you’ll get the right education. Just remember, your objective is to learn the knowledge and skills that will allow you to pass the CDL exams and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that target in mind, just how do you decide on a truck driving school? That is what we are going to cover in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which commercial driver’s license you will ultimately need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Require?
In order to drive commercial vehicles lawfully within the USA and Allgood AL, a driver needs to attain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three license classes that a driver can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the subject of this article is how to choose a truck driver school, we will address Class A and Class B licenses. What differentiates 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). Following are short summaries of the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is needed to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of greater 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 CDL is needed 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. 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 might also need endorsements to operate certain types of vehicles, such as school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate required endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to drive.
How to Assess a Truck Driver School
After you have determined which CDL you would like to obtain, you can begin the process of evaluating the Allgood AL trucking schools that you are looking at. As previously mentioned, cost and location will no doubt be your initial concerns. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they must not be your sole concerns. Other variables, such as the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly if not more important. So following are several more points that you should research while conducting your due diligence before selecting, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many truck driver schools in the Allgood AL area are accredited because of the rigorous process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more typical and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are several advantages. Prospective students know that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will receive an ample amount of driving time. As an example, PTDI mandates 44 hours of real driving time, not ride-alongs or simulations. So if a school’s program is certified (the program, not the school is certified), students know that the curriculum and training will satisfy the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One clue to help assess the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly reviewed or a fly by night school typically will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the best of Allgood AL schools had to start from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also learn what the school’s history is concerning successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won’t share those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should also have relationships with local and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only points to a superior reputation within the profession, but also bolsters their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to check with the Alabama licensing authority to make sure that the CDL trucking schools you are reviewing are in compliance.
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 talk more about the instructors in the next section. Also, the student to instructor ratio should be no higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be receiving the personal attention they will need. This is especially true regarding 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 comparatively short time period. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. Most Allgood AL schools provide training courses that run from three weeks to as long as two months, based on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Instructors? As previously stated, it’s imperative that the instructors are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though several states have minimum driving time criteria to be certified as an instructor, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also important that the instructors keep current with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing instructors may be a little more intuitive than other criteria, and possibly the best method is to check out the school and talk to the teachers in person. You can also speak with some of the students going through the training and ask if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
Sufficient Driving Time? Above all else, a great truck driving school will furnish plenty 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 tools, they are no alternative for actual driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will become. And even though driving time fluctuates among schools, a reasonable standard is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide no less than 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Allgood AL schools you are researching and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can obtain free or discounted training from a number of trucking 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 rather than having relationships with a wide range of trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only work with one company. The tradeoff is receiving less expensive or even free training by surrendering the flexibility to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Clearly contract training has the potential to reduce your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the ideal way to get affordable training. Just remember to inquire if the Allgood AL schools you are looking at are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide Onsite CDL Testing? There are several states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its students. If onsite testing is available in Alabama, ask if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than contending with graduates from competing schools for test times at Alabama testing locations. It is also an indication that the DMV considers the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Flexible? As earlier mentioned, truck driving training is just one to two months in length. With such a short duration, it’s important that the Allgood AL school you choose offers 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 willing to dedicate more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you’re still working while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Assistance Provided? Once you have obtained your CDL license after graduating from trucking school, you will be eager to begin your new profession. Make sure that the schools you are looking at have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking companies their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a low job placement rate or not many Allgood AL employers hiring their grads, it may be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Available? Truck driver schools are much like colleges and other Allgood AL area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being available. Find out if the schools you are examining have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that need to be submitted.
Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Allgood AL?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Allgood Alabama area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Allgood is located in south-central Blount County at 33°54′15″N 86°30′59″W / 33.90417°N 86.51639°W / 33.90417; -86.51639 (33.904216, -86.516428). It is in the Murphree Valley, with Straight Mountain to the southeast and Red Mountain and Sand Mountain to the northwest. Alabama State Route 75 passes through the town, leading northeast 3 miles (5 km) to Oneonta, the county seat, and southwest 38 miles (61 km) to Birmingham.
As of the census of 2000, there were 629 people, 189 households, and 140 families residing in the town. The population density was 606.6 people per square mile (233.5/km²). There were 198 housing units at an average density of 190.9 per square mile (73.5/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 83.94% White, 0.32% Black or African American, 0.48% Native American, 12.08% from other races, and 3.18% from two or more races. 43.40% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 189 households out of which 40.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 62.4% were married couples living together, 8.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 25.9% were non-families. 18.5% of all households were made up of individuals and 7.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.33 and the average family size was 3.80.
Pick the Best Trucking School Allgood AL
Selecting the right trucking school is a critical first step to starting your new vocation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skills taught at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are several options available and understanding them is crucial if you are going to succeed as an operator. Most importantly, you must receive the proper 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 think about 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 choose an independent truck driver school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking firm of your choosing, or one of several associated with the school. It’s your choice. But regardless of how you receive your training, you will in the near future be part of a profession that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Allgood AL.
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