How to Choose a Truck Driver School near Chatom Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a trucking school near Chatom AL. Perhaps it has always been your fantasy to hit the open highway while operating a monster tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have conducted some research and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver offers excellent wages and flexible job opportunities. Regardless of what your reason is, it’s imperative to receive the appropriate training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are a number of factors that you’ll need to examine prior to making your ultimate selection. Location will undoubtedly be an issue, particularly if you have to commute from your Chatom home. The expense will also be of importance, but picking a school based only on price is not the best means to guarantee you’ll get the proper education. Don’t forget, your goal is to master the knowledge and skills that will allow you to pass the CDL exams and become a professional 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 discuss a little bit about which CDL license you will eventually need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Require?
To drive commercial vehicles lawfully within the United States and Chatom AL, an operator needs to 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 subject of this article is how to pick a truck driving 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 in addition to the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Below are short descriptions for the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is required to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of greater 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 Commercial Drivers License is needed to operate 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. A few 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 require endorsements to drive certain kinds 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 CDL School
After you have decided which CDL you would like to pursue, you can start the undertaking of evaluating the Chatom AL trucking schools that you are looking at. As already mentioned, location and cost will undoubtedly be your initial considerations. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they should not be your only concerns. Other variables, such as the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly or even more important. So below are several more factors that you need to research while carrying out your due diligence before enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few truck driver schools in the Chatom AL area are accredited due to 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. Interested students know that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will be given plenty of driving time. For 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 training and curriculum will meet the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One indicator to help evaluate the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in business. A negatively ranked or a fly by night school normally will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the top Chatom AL schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so use it as one of several qualifications. You can also ask what the school’s history is pertaining to successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won’t provide those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should also have associations with local and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only affirms an excellent 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 trucker schools you are researching are in good standing.
How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in Alabama and employ teachers that are experienced and trained. We will cover more about the teachers in the following section. Also, the student to instructor ratio should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be obtaining the personal attention they will need. This is particularly true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And be critical of any school that claims it can train you to drive trucks in a relatively short time frame. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. Most Chatom AL schools offer training courses that run from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Teachers? As already mentioned, it’s important that the instructors are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although several states have minimum driving time prerequisites to be certified as a teacher, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also important that the teachers stay current with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating teachers may be a bit more subjective than other criteria, and possibly the best approach is to pay a visit to the school and speak with the instructors in person. You can also speak with some of the students completing the training and ask if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
Plenty of Driving Time? Above all else, a good truck driving school will provide lots of driving time to its students. Besides, 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 ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are important training methods, they are no alternative for real driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. Although driving time fluctuates between schools, a reasonable benchmark 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 Chatom AL schools you are looking at and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It’s possible to get free or discounted training from a number of truck driver schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a particular carrier for a defined amount of time. This is called contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than maintaining affiliations with a wide range of 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 surrendering the flexibility to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Naturally contract training has the potential to limit your income prospects when starting out. But for many it may be the ideal way to receive affordable training. Just be sure to ask if the Chatom AL schools you are looking at are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer CDL Testing Onsite? There are some states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its students. If onsite testing is permitted in Alabama, ask if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than battling with graduates from other schools for test times at Alabama testing centers. It is moreover an indication that the DMV believes the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Flexible? As formerly noted, CDL training is only about one to two months in length. With such a brief duration, it’s important that the Chatom AL school you enroll in provides flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. As an example, if you’re having a hard time learning a particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be willing to dedicate 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? Once you have received your CDL license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be impatient to begin your new profession. Confirm that the schools you are looking at have job placement 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 lower job placement rate or few Chatom AL employers hiring their graduates, it might be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Trucking schools are similar to colleges and other Chatom AL area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being available. Ask if the schools you are examining have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you understand the options and forms that need to be completed.
Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Chatom AL?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Chatom Alabama area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Chatom is a town in Washington County, Alabama, United States. It incorporated in 1949. Chatom is the county seat of Washington County, holding the distinction since 1907. The town's population was 1,288 as of the 2010 United States Census, up from 1,193 in 2000.
Chatom is located at 31°27′42″N 88°14′53″W / 31.461656°N 88.248051°W / 31.461656; -88.248051. According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 10.9 square miles (28 km2), all land.
As of the census of 2000, there were 1,193 people, 449 households, and 308 families residing in the town. The population density was 109.7 people per square mile (42.3/km2). There were 523 housing units at an average density of 48.1 per square mile (18.6/km2). The ethnic makeup of the town was 67.23% White, 32.10% Black or African American, 0.42% Native American, 0.08% from other races, and 0.17% from two or more races. 0.50% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
Select the Right Truck Driving School Chatom AL
Picking the ideal truck driver school is an important first step to beginning your new vocation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skill sets taught at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are many options available and understanding them is crucial if you are going to succeed as an operator. Most importantly, you must receive the appropriate training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are short on money or financing, you may need 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 trucker school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking company of your choice, or one of many affiliated with the school. It’s your choice. But regardless of how you receive your training, you will soon be entering a profession that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Chatom AL.
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