How to Pick a Trucking School near Chelsea Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a trucking school near Chelsea AL. Perhaps it has always been your ambition to hit the open highway while operating a monster tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have conducted some analysis and have discovered that a career as a truck driver provides good income and flexible work prospects. No matter what your reason is, it’s essential to receive the proper training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are a number of variables that you’ll want to think about prior to making your final choice. Location will certainly be important, especially if you need to commute from your Chelsea residence. The cost will also be important, but picking a school based only on price is not the ideal way to ensure you’ll receive the proper education. Just remember, 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 objective in mind, just how do you decide on a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to discuss in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which commercial driver’s license you will eventually need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Should You Get?
To operate commercial vehicles lawfully within the USA and Chelsea AL, a driver must get a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three 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 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 explanations of the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License 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. A few 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 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. 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 might also need endorsements to operate specific types of vehicles, for example school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper needed endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to drive.
How to Assess a Trucking School
Once you have determined which CDL you want to obtain, you can start the process of researching the Chelsea AL truck driver schools that you are considering. As already discussed, location and cost will no doubt be your primary concerns. But it can’t be stressed enough that they must not be your sole concerns. Other variables, including the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally if not more important. So below are a few additional factors that you need to research while conducting your due diligence prior to choosing, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many truck driving schools in the Chelsea AL area are accredited because of the stringent process and cost to the schools. However, 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 recognize that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will receive lots of driving time. As an example, PTDI calls for 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 comply with the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One indicator to help measure the quality of a trucking 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. On the other hand, even the top Chelsea AL schools had to start from their first day of training, so use it as one of several qualifiers. You can also find out what the school’s history is regarding successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won’t share those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain relationships with local and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only confirms an excellent reputation within the profession, but also bolsters their job placement program for students. It also wouldn’t hurt to get in touch with the Alabama licensing department to confirm that the CDL trucker schools you are researching are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Alabama and employ instructors that are trained and experienced. We will talk more about the instructors in the next segment. Also, the student to instructor proportion should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be getting 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 professes it can teach you to drive trucks in a comparatively short time frame. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. Most Chelsea 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 Good are the Trainers? As previously mentioned, it’s essential that the instructors are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although a number of states have minimum driving time requirements to qualify as a teacher, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also crucial that the teachers stay current with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing teachers might be a little more subjective than other standards, and possibly the best approach is to visit the school and speak with the teachers face to face. You can also talk to 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.
Adequate Driving Time? Most importantly, a great trucking school will furnish lots 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 operating a truck. While the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are necessary training methods, they are no alternative 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 fluctuates between schools, a good standard is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish no less than 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Chelsea 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 a number of truck driving schools if you make a commitment to drive for a specified carrier for a defined amount of time. This is what’s known as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So instead of maintaining affiliations with many different trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only refer to one company. The tradeoff is receiving less expensive or even free training by giving up the flexibility to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Naturally contract training has the potential to limit your income opportunities when starting out. But for many it may be the ideal way to receive affordable training. Just be sure to ask if the Chelsea AL schools you are considering are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer CDL Testing Onsite? There are several states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its grads. If onsite testing is allowed in Alabama, ask if the schools you are reviewing 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 facilities. It is moreover an indication that the DMV regards the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Convenient? As earlier noted, CDL training is only about 1 to 2 months long. With such a brief duration, it’s essential that the Chelsea AL school you choose offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. For example, if you’re having a hard time learning a certain driving maneuver, then the instructor should be willing 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 needs to be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Placement Offered? The moment you have received your CDL license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be impatient to start your new profession. Make sure that the schools you are considering have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking firms their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a lower job placement rate or not many Chelsea AL employers recruiting their grads, it may be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Truck driver schools are comparable to colleges and other Chelsea 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 aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that must be submitted.
Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Chelsea AL?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Chelsea Alabama area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Chelsea is a city in Shelby County, Alabama, United States. It is part of the Birmingham metropolitan area. Chelsea was incorporated on March 1, 1996, with a population of 906. At the 2000 census the population was 2,949. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the 2010 population for Chelsea was 10,183. Its seasonal campsite for visitors is Hargis Retreat which began in 1984. Chelsea is widely considered the fastest growing city in Shelby County, which is the fastest growing county in the state of Alabama.
In 2010, Chelsea had a population of 10,183. The racial and ethnic composition of the population was 90.5% white or Caucasian, 4.7% black or African American, 0.3% Native American, 2.0% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 1.1% from some other race, 1.3% from two or more races and 3.2% Hispanic or Latino of any race.
At the 2000 census, there were 2,949 people, 1,022 households and 849 families residing in the city. The population density was 293.6 per square mile (113.4/km2). There were 1,091 housing units at an average density of 108.6 per square mile (42.0/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 96.78% White, 0.78% Black or African American, 0.88% Native American, 0.17% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 0.58% from other races, and 0.78% from two or more races. 0.81% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
Pick the Best Truck Driving School Chelsea AL
Selecting the right trucking school is an important first step to launching your new vocation 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 critical to a new driver’s success. Most importantly, you must get the necessary training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are lacking money or financing, you may need to think about a captive school. You will pay a reduced or even no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can select an independent CDL school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choice, or one of several associated with the school. It’s your choice. But no matter how you receive your training, you will in the near future be joining a profession that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Chelsea AL.
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