How to Decide on a Truck Driving School near Belle Mina Alabama
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a CDL school near Belle Mina AL. Maybe it has always been your dream to hit the open road while driving a big ole tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have conducted some research and have found that an occupation as a truck driver offers excellent pay and flexible job opportunities. No matter what your reason is, it’s important to obtain the appropriate training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are various factors that you’ll want to examine prior to making your final selection. Location will no doubt be important, particularly if you have to commute from your Belle Mina residence. The cost will also be of importance, but picking a school based entirely on price is not the optimal way to make certain you’ll get the appropriate training. Don’t forget, your goal is to learn the skills and knowledge that will enable you to pass the CDL exams and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that target in mind, just how do you choose a truck driving school? That is what we are going to address in the balance of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which commercial driver’s license you will ultimately need.
Which CDL Should You Get?
To operate commercial vehicles legally within the United States and Belle Mina AL, an operator must get a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three license classes that one can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the subject of this article is how to pick a truck driver school, we will focus on Class A and Class B licenses. What differentiates each class of CDL is the type of vehicle that the driver can operate as well as the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Below are short summaries for the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is needed to operate any vehicle that has a GCWR of greater 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 CDL is required to drive 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 need endorsements to operate certain kinds of vehicles, for example school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate required endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to operate.
How to Research a Trucking School
As soon as you have determined which CDL you would like to obtain, you can begin the process of assessing the Belle Mina AL truck driving schools that you are looking at. As previously discussed, cost and location will no doubt be your primary concerns. But it can’t be emphasized 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 or even more important. So below are several more factors that you should research while performing your due diligence before choosing, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many trucking schools in the Belle Mina AL area are accredited due to the demanding process and expense to the schools. On the other hand, 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. Potential students recognize that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will get lots of driving time. As an example, PTDI requires 44 hours of actual 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 training and curriculum will measure up to the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One indicator to help determine the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly ranked or a fly by night school typically will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the top Belle Mina AL schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also find out what the school’s history is regarding successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won’t supply those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should also maintain relationships with regional and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only affirms a superior reputation within the industry, but also boosts their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to check with the Alabama licensing authority to confirm that the CDL trucker schools you are reviewing are in good standing.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Alabama and employ teachers that are trained and experienced. We will cover more about the teachers in the next segment. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should be no higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be obtaining 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 be a truck driver in a comparatively short time period. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. The majority of Belle Mina AL schools provide training programs that range from three weeks to as long as two months, depending on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Teachers? As already mentioned, it’s imperative that the teachers are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although a number of states have minimum driving time requirements to qualify as an instructor, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also vital that the teachers keep current with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing instructors might be a bit more intuitive than other standards, and possibly the ideal method is to pay a visit to the school and talk to the teachers face to face. You can also speak with some of the students going through the training and ask if they are happy with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
How Much Driving Time? Above all else, an excellent 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 driving a truck. Even though the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are important training tools, they are no alternative 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 differs among schools, a good standard is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Belle Mina AL schools you are researching and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It’s possible to receive free or discounted training from some trucking schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a specified 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 associations with many different trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only work with one company. The tradeoff is receiving less expensive or even free training by surrendering the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Obviously contract training has the potential to restrict your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the best way to receive affordable training. Just remember to ask if the Belle Mina AL schools you are contemplating are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there CDL Testing Onsite? There are some states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its students. If onsite testing is permitted in Alabama, find out if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more convenient than contending with graduates of competing schools for test times at Alabama testing locations. It is also an indication that the DMV views the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Accessible? As previously noted, CDL training is only about one to two months long. With such a brief term, it’s essential that the Belle Mina AL school you select provides flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. As an example, if you’re having a hard time learning a certain driving maneuver, then the teacher should be willing to spend more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you’re still employed while going to training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Assistance Provided? As soon as you have obtained your CDL license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be anxious to start your new career. Confirm that the schools you are considering have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking companies their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a lower job placement rate or few Belle Mina AL employers hiring their grads, it might be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? Truck driving schools are much like colleges and other Belle Mina AL area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being offered. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you get through the options and forms that need to be submitted.
Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Belle Mina AL?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Belle Mina Alabama area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Belle Mina, known as Belmina during the 19th century, is a historic plantation and plantation house in Belle Mina, Alabama, United States. Completed in 1826, the Late Georgian-style house was built for Alabama's second governor, Thomas Bibb.
Originally located at the center of a 2,500-acre (10 km2) plantation complex, the red brick main house is one of the earliest Alabama examples of a stereotypical columned plantation house. The house and surrounding 9 acres (3.6 ha) were added to the National Register of Historic Places on October 31, 1972.
Prior to the construction of the main house, Bibb had to have a sawmill and a brick kiln built. As the area was still being converted from a frontier, there was no sawed lumber or ready-made brick available. Bibb obtained skilled slave artisans to produce the construction materials and build the house. It took him several years to find a highly skilled slave mason and an expert carpenter. The house was basically complete by 1826, although work on various buildings of the plantation complex continued up to 1835.
Choose the Ideal Truck Driving School Belle Mina AL
Picking the ideal trucking school is an essential first step to starting your new vocation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skills that you will learn at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options offered and understanding them is vital if you are going to succeed as an operator. Most importantly, you must receive the necessary training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are lacking money or financing, you may want to look into 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 choose an independent trucker school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking firm of your choosing, or one of several affiliated with the school. It’s your decision. But no matter how you obtain your training, you will in the near future be part of an industry that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Belle Mina AL.
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