How to Pick a CDL Driving School near Brownsboro Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a trucking school near Brownsboro AL. Maybe it has always been your goal to hit the open highway while driving a monster tractor trailer. Or maybe you have done some research and have found that a career as a truck driver offers good income and flexible work opportunities. Whatever your reason is, it’s essential to get the proper training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are several variables that you’ll want to consider before making your ultimate selection. Location will certainly be an issue, especially if you have to commute from your Brownsboro home. The cost will also be of importance, but selecting a school based solely on price is not the best way to make certain you’ll obtain the right education. Don’t forget, your goal is to learn the knowledge and skills that will allow you to pass the CDL exams and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that target in mind, just how do you pick a truck driving school? That is what we are going to cover in the balance of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which CDL license you will eventually need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Need?
In order to drive commercial vehicles legally within the United States and Brownsboro AL, an operator must attain 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. Since the subject of this article is how to choose a truck driving school, we will highlight 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). Below are brief summaries for the two 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 more than 10,000 lbs. Some 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 Commercial Drivers License is needed to operate 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. 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, including school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate required endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to operate.
How to Research a Truck Driving School
Once you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you want to obtain, you can start the undertaking of researching the Brownsboro AL truck driver schools that you are considering. As previously mentioned, cost and location will undoubtedly be your initial concerns. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they must not be your only concerns. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly if not more important. So below are a few more things that you should research while performing your due diligence before selecting, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few truck driver schools in the Brownsboro AL area are accredited because of the rigorous process and cost 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. Interested students know that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will be given an ample amount of driving time. For example, PTDI requires 44 hours of actual 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 fulfill the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One clue to help measure the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in business. A negatively reviewed or a fly by night school normally will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the top Brownsboro AL schools had to begin from their first day of training, so use it as one of several qualifications. You can also ask what the school’s history is relating to successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won’t share those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should also have relationships with local and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only affirms a quality reputation within the industry, 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 make sure that the CDL trucking schools you are researching are in compliance.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in Alabama and employ teachers that are trained and experienced. We will talk more about the teachers in the next section. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should not be greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be getting the personalized attention 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 train you to drive trucks in a relatively short period of time. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. Most Brownsboro AL schools provide training programs that run from 3 weeks to as long as two months, depending on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Teachers? As earlier mentioned, it’s important that the instructors are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although several states have minimum driving time requirements to be certified as an instructor, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also crucial that the instructors stay current with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating instructors might be a bit more subjective than other standards, and possibly the best 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 ask if they are satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
How Much Driving Time? Above all else, an excellent truck driving school will furnish ample driving time to its students. Besides, 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 ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are essential training methods, they are no alternative for real driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. And even though driving time fluctuates between schools, a good benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish at least 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Brownsboro AL schools you are considering and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It’s possible to get discounted or even free training from some truck driver schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a specified carrier for a defined amount of time. This is called contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of having affiliations with many different trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only refer to one company. The benefit is receiving less expensive or even free training by surrendering the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Obviously contract training has the potential to limit your income opportunities when starting out. But for some it may be the only way to receive affordable training. Just remember to find out if the Brownsboro AL schools you are contemplating are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide Onsite CDL Testing? There are a number of states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its students. If onsite testing is allowed in Alabama, ask if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to offer it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than battling with graduates of competing schools for test times at Alabama testing facilities. It is also an indicator that the DMV deems the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Flexible? As previously mentioned, truck driving training is only about one to two months long. With such a short duration, it’s important that the Brownsboro AL school you enroll in provides 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 instructor should be prepared to devote more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you’re still working while going to training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Assistance Offered? As soon as you have received your commercial driver’s license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be impatient to begin your new career. Verify that the schools you are reviewing have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking firms their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a low job placement rate or not many Brownsboro AL employers recruiting their graduates, it might be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Given? Trucking schools are comparable to colleges and other Brownsboro AL area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being available. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have a financial assistance department, or at least someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that need to be completed.
Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Brownsboro AL?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Brownsboro Alabama area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Choose the Best Truck Driving School Brownsboro AL
Selecting the right truck driving school is an essential first step to beginning your new vocation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skill sets that you will learn at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options available and understanding them is vital to a new driver’s success. Most importantly, you must get the proper training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are lacking funds or financing, you might want to look into a captive school. You will pay a lower or even no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can enroll in an independent trucking school and have the option of driving for the trucking firm of your choice, 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 entering an industry that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Brownsboro AL.
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