How to Select a Trucking School near Blountsville Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a trucking school near Blountsville AL. Maybe it has always been your goal to hit the open highway while driving a monster tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have conducted some research and have found that an occupation as a truck driver provides excellent wages and flexible job prospects. Whatever your reason is, it’s essential to obtain the appropriate training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are certain factors that you’ll need to think about prior to making your ultimate choice. Location will undoubtedly be an issue, particularly if you need to commute from your Blountsville home. The expense will also be of importance, but selecting a school based exclusively on price is not the ideal means to ensure you’ll get the right training. Just remember, your objective is to master the knowledge and skills that will allow you to pass the CDL exams and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that purpose in mind, just how do you choose a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to discuss in the rest of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which CDL license you will ultimately need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Need?
To drive commercial vehicles legally within the USA and Blountsville AL, an operator must obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 classes of licenses that one can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the topic of this article is how to select a truck driving school, we will focus on Class A and 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 brief explanations for the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is required to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of greater 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 needed 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 Commercial Drivers Licenses might also need endorsements to operate specific types of vehicles, such as passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper required endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to drive.
How to Research a Truck Driving School
After you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you wish to obtain, you can begin the process of evaluating the Blountsville AL truck driving schools that you are looking at. As already mentioned, cost and location will certainly be your initial concerns. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they must not be your sole concerns. Other issues, for instance the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally or even more important. So following are several more points that you should research while carrying out your due diligence prior to choosing, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few truck driver schools in the Blountsville AL area are accredited due to the stringent process and expense to the schools. However, certification is more prevalent 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. Potential students know that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will receive plenty of driving time. As an example, PTDI mandates 44 hours of real driving time, not ride-alongs or simulations. So if a school’s course is certified (the course, not the school is certified), students know that the curriculum and training will comply with the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help measure the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in business. A negatively rated or a fly by night school typically will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the top Blountsville AL schools had to start from their first day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also ask what the school’s track record is regarding successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won’t supply those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should also maintain associations with local and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only affirms a quality reputation within the profession, but also boosts their job placement program for students. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to get in touch with the Alabama licensing department to verify that the CDL trucker schools you are reviewing are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in Alabama and hire teachers that are trained and experienced. We will discuss 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 higher, then students will not be getting the individual instruction they will need. This is particularly true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And be critical of any school that insists it can train you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short time frame. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. Most Blountsville AL schools offer 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 earlier stated, it’s imperative that the instructors are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time prerequisites to qualify as an instructor, the more successful 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 intuitive than other standards, and perhaps the best method is to visit the school and speak with the instructors face to face. You can also talk to some of the students completing the training and find out if they are satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
Sufficient Driving Time? Most importantly, an excellent truck driving school will furnish sufficient 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. While the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are important training tools, they are no substitute for actual driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. And even though driving time can vary between 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. Contact the Blountsville AL schools you are looking at and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can obtain 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 time period. This is what’s known as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So rather than having affiliations with numerous trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only work with one company. The benefit is receiving less expensive or even free training by surrendering the freedom to initially work wherever you choose. Naturally contract training has the potential to limit your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the best way to get affordable training. Just remember to find out if the Blountsville AL schools you are looking at are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide CDL Testing Onsite? There are some states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its students. If onsite testing is permitted in Alabama, find out if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than competing with graduates from competing schools for test times at Alabama testing facilities. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV views the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Accessible? As previously mentioned, CDL training is just one to two months in length. With such a brief term, it’s imperative that the Blountsville AL school you enroll in provides flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. For example, if you’re having difficulty learning a certain driving maneuver, then the instructor should be prepared to commit more time with you until you are proficient. 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 responsibilities.
Is Job Placement Provided? As soon as you have acquired your CDL license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be eager to begin your new career. Make sure that the schools you are looking at have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking companies their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a low job placement rate or not many Blountsville AL employers recruiting their graduates, it may be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Given? Truck driving schools are similar to colleges and other Blountsville AL area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being offered. 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 Blountsville AL?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Blountsville Alabama area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Blount County was created by the Alabama territorial legislature on February 6, 1818, from land ceded to the federal government by the Creek Nation on August 9, 1814. It was named for Gov. Willie G. Blount of Tennessee, who provided assistance to settlers in Alabama during the Creek War of 1813-14. It lies in the northeastern section of the state, generally known as the mineral region.
What became Blountsville appears on an 1819 map as the mixed Creek/Cherokee Native American village of "Wassausey" (meaning Bear Meat Cabin, the name of an Indian translator who lived there). The town was established by Caleb Fryley and Johnny Jones in 1816 as Bear Meat Cabin. The post office was opened as Blountsville on October 20, 1825, and incorporated on December 13, 1827. It was the county seat until 1889 when the government was moved to Oneonta.
There were many schools in the town in the early years: The Academy, Blount College and the District Agricultural School, plus the public schools. The Blount County Courthouse and jail was built in 1833 and remained there until it was moved to Oneonta. A major crossroads in early Alabama, Blountsville became a Confederate depot for the cavalry. Confederate forces led by General Nathan Bedford Forrest and Union forces led by General Abel Streight skirmished briefly in the town on May 1, 1863, and Major General Lovell H. Rousseau and his Union cavalry occupied the town in July 1864. Blount College was in the building that was originally the courthouse. It was established in 1890. The beautiful Blountsville United Methodist Church was established in 1818 and is the oldest building in Blountsville and is still in use today. Another old building in Blountsville was once known as the Barclift House. Built in 1834 as Hendricks Tavern, it is now owned and is being restored by the Ortiz family.
Select the Right CDL School Blountsville AL
Selecting the appropriate truck driver school is a critical first step to launching your new profession 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 several options offered and understanding them is crucial if you are going to succeed as an operator. Most importantly, you must get the proper training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are short on money or financing, you might want 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 choose an independent trucking school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking company of your choosing, or one of many affiliated with the school. It’s your choice. But regardless of how you get your training, you will soon be joining an industry that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Blountsville AL.
More Trucking Locations in Alabama