How to Select a Truck Driver School near Coaling Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a CDL school near Coaling AL. Maybe it has always been your fantasy to hit the open highway while operating a big ole tractor trailer. Or possibly you have conducted some analysis and have discovered that a career as a truck driver offers excellent pay and flexible work prospects. Whatever your reason is, it’s important to obtain the proper training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are several factors that you’ll need to think about prior to making your ultimate choice. Location will no doubt be an issue, especially if you need to commute from your Coaling home. The expense will also be of importance, but choosing a school based entirely on price is not the optimal means to guarantee you’ll get the appropriate training. Don’t forget, your objective is to master the knowledge and skills 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? That is what we are going to discuss in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which CDL license you will eventually need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Should You Get?
To drive commercial vehicles lawfully within the USA and Coaling AL, a driver needs to attain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three license classes that one can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the topic of this article is how to select a truck driver school, we will discuss Class A and B licenses. What distinguishes each class of CDL is the kind of vehicle that the driver can operate together with the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Below are brief descriptions of 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. 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. 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 specific types of vehicles, for instance passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate required endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to operate.
How to Assess a Truck Driving School
After you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you wish to pursue, you can begin the process of researching the Coaling AL truck driver schools that you are considering. As earlier discussed, location and cost will certainly be your primary concerns. But it can’t be stressed enough that they must not be your only concerns. Other factors, such as the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally if not more important. So following are several additional factors that you need to research while performing your due diligence before selecting, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few truck driver schools in the Coaling AL area are accredited because of the rigorous process and expense to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more common and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are several advantages. Interested students know that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will be given lots of driving time. As an example, PTDI calls for 44 hours of actual driving time, not ride-alongs or simulations. So if a school’s program is certified (the program, not the school is certified), students know that the curriculum and training will measure up to the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help measure the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in business. A poorly ranked or a fly by night school typically will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the best of Coaling AL schools had to start from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also learn what the school’s history is relating to successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won’t provide those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should also have relationships with regional and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only affirms an excellent reputation within the industry, but also bolsters their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn’t hurt to check with the Alabama licensing department to make sure that the CDL trucking schools you are reviewing are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in Alabama and hire 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 greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be getting the personalized instruction they will need. This is particularly true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And watch out for any school that insists it can train you to be a truck driver in a relatively short time frame. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. Most Coaling AL schools provide training programs that range from three weeks to as long as two months, based on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Trainers? As previously mentioned, it’s essential that the teachers are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though several states have minimum driving time requirements to be certified as a teacher, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also vital that the instructors keep up to date with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating instructors may be a little more subjective than other criteria, and possibly the best approach is to pay a visit to the school and talk to the teachers in person. You can also speak with some of the students going through the training and ask if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
How Much Driving Time? Above all else, a good truck driver school will provide 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 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 become. Although driving time differs among schools, a reasonable benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish at least 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Coaling AL schools you are considering and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can get discounted or even free training from some trucking schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a specific carrier for a defined time period. This is called contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than maintaining associations with many different trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only refer to one company. The tradeoff is receiving less expensive or even free training by giving up the flexibility to initially work wherever you choose. Obviously contract training has the potential to reduce 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 Coaling AL schools you are looking at are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer Onsite CDL Testing? There are a number of states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driver 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 advantage is that it is more accommodating than competing with graduates from competing schools for test times at Alabama testing locations. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV views the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Accessible? As earlier noted, truck driving training is only about one to two months in length. With such a short term, it’s important that the Coaling AL school you choose provides flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. For 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 holding a job while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Placement Provided? The moment you have attained your CDL license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be anxious to begin your new profession. Verify 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 local and national trucking companies their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a poor job placement rate or few Coaling AL employers recruiting their graduates, it may be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? Truck driving schools are similar to colleges and other Coaling AL area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being available. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you get through the options and forms that need to be submitted.
Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Coaling AL?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Coaling Alabama area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Coaling is a town in Tuscaloosa County, Alabama, United States. It incorporated in September 1997. At the 2010 census the population was 1,657. It is part of the Tuscaloosa, Alabama Metropolitan Statistical Area.
On April 27, 2011, parts of Coaling were devastated by an EF-3 tornado at approximately 5:15 a.m. Three homes were completely destroyed, at least ten others were severely damaged, and twice as many more sustained light damage. Though there were no fatalities, some residents were hospitalized for injuries.
As of the census of 2010, there were 1,657 people, 429 households, and 335 families residing in the city. The population density was 303.6 people per square mile (117.3/km2). There were 458 housing units at an average density of 124.7 per square mile (48.2/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 86.42% White, 11.40% Black or African American, 0.06% Native American, 0.50% from other races, and 0.81% from two or more races. 1.68% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
Choose the Best Truck Driving School Coaling AL
Picking the right truck driving school is an important first step to launching your new vocation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skills taught at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options offered and understanding them is crucial if you are going to succeed as an operator. But first and foremost, you must get the necessary training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are lacking money or financing, you may want to consider 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 truck driver 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 regardless of how you receive your training, you will in the near future be joining a profession that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Coaling AL.
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