How to Find a Trucking School near Brilliant Alabama
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a CDL school near Brilliant AL. Perhaps it has always been your fantasy to hit the open highway while operating a monster tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have done 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 imperative to obtain the appropriate training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are several variables that you’ll want to examine prior to making your ultimate selection. Location will no doubt be important, particularly if you have to commute from your Brilliant residence. The expense will also be important, but choosing a school based entirely on price is not the ideal way to make sure you’ll get the right education. Just remember, your goal is to master the knowledge and skills that will enable you to pass the CDL examinations 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 cover 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 United States and Brilliant AL, an operator must attain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 classes of licenses that one can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the topic of this article is how to pick a truck driving school, we will address Class A and B licenses. What distinguishes 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 brief explanations for the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is required 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 drivers may be able to operate 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 CDLs may also require endorsements to operate certain types of vehicles, for example school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper required endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to drive.
How to Evaluate a Truck Driver School
When you have decided which CDL you want to pursue, you can begin the undertaking of researching the Brilliant AL truck driver schools that you are looking at. As earlier mentioned, location and cost will no doubt be your initial concerns. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they must not be your sole concerns. Other issues, such as the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly or even more important. So following are several additional points that you need to research while performing your due diligence prior to enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few trucking schools in the Brilliant AL area are accredited due to the rigorous process and expense to the schools. However, 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. Prospective students recognize that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will get an ample amount of driving time. For example, PTDI requires 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 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 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. However, even the best of Brilliant AL schools had to start from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also find out what the school’s track record is concerning successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won’t share those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally have associations with local and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only points to a superior 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 verify that the CDL trucker schools you are reviewing are in compliance.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Alabama and hire instructors that are trained and experienced. We will talk more about the teachers in the following section. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be obtaining the personalized instruction they will need. This is particularly true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And watch out for any school that professes it can teach you to drive trucks in a relatively short period of time. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. Most Brilliant AL schools offer training programs that range from three weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Trainers? As earlier stated, it’s imperative that the teachers are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though several states have minimum driving time prerequisites to be certified as an instructor, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also crucial that the instructors keep up to date with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing instructors might be a little more intuitive than other criteria, and perhaps the ideal method is to pay a visit to the school and talk to the teachers in person. You can also speak with a few of the students completing the training and find out if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
How Much Driving Time? Most importantly, an excellent trucking school will provide plenty 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 driving 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 training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. Although driving time can vary between schools, a good benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Brilliant AL schools you are considering and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It’s possible to get discounted or even free training from certain truck driving schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a specific carrier for a defined time period. This is what’s known as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of maintaining affiliations with many different trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only work with one company. The benefit is receiving free or less expensive training by giving up the flexibility to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Naturally contract training has the potential to limit your income prospects when starting out. But for many it may be the only way to receive affordable training. Just be sure to ask if the Brilliant AL schools you are looking at are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide Onsite CDL Testing? There are some states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its grads. If onsite testing is available in Alabama, ask if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to offer it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than battling with graduates from other schools for test times at Alabama testing locations. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV considers the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Convenient? As earlier noted, truck driver training is only about 1 to 2 months long. With such a brief duration, it’s imperative that the Brilliant AL school you select provides flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. As an example, if you’re having difficulty learning a particular driving maneuver, then the teacher should be prepared to dedicate more time with you until you have it mastered. 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 commitments.
Is Job Assistance Offered? As soon as you have acquired your commercial driver’s license after graduating from trucking school, you will be impatient to begin your new profession. Confirm that the schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking companies their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a low job placement rate or not many Brilliant AL employers hiring their grads, it may be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? Truck driving schools are comparable to colleges and other Brilliant AL area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. Find out 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 Brilliant AL?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Brilliant Alabama area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
In the late part of the 19th century, the discovery of coal led to the development of the Brilliant Coal Company, which was located adjacent to the town of Boston. The Brilliant Coal Company served as a catalyst for growth for the area and provided ample employment for more than 50 years.
In 1957 due to declines in industry and population the post office at Boston, Alabama was absorbed into the Brilliant, Alabama post office. The history of Boston, Alabama changed forever with the passage of Act 284 by the Alabama Legislature, which changed the name of the town of Boston to Brilliant.
From 1987 until 2000 the town was home to Brilliant Homes Ltd. a manufacturer of mobile homes. The company was acquired by American Homestar Corporation of League City, Texas in 1997. The plant was closed on April 15, 2000 due to declining sales throughout the manufactured housing industry. American Homestar Corporation subsequently filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy later in 2001.
Choose the Right Truck Driver School Brilliant AL
Choosing the right truck driving school is an important first step to launching your new occupation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skill sets that you will learn at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options available and understanding them is crucial if you are going to succeed as an operator. Most importantly, you must obtain 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 want 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 choose an independent CDL school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choice, or one of many associated with the school. It’s your choice. But regardless of how you obtain your training, you will soon be part of a profession that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Brilliant AL.
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