Become a Truck Driver | Truck Driving Schools Cottonton AL

How to Select a Trucking School near Cottonton Alabama

Cottonton AL truck driving school campusCongratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a CDL school near Cottonton AL. Maybe it has always been your ambition to hit the open road while operating a big ole tractor trailer. Or possibly you have conducted some research and have discovered that a career as a truck driver offers good wages and flexible work prospects. No matter what your reason is, it’s essential to obtain the proper training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are various variables that you’ll want to consider prior to making your final choice. Location will certainly be important, particularly if you need to commute from your Cottonton residence. The cost will also be of importance, but picking a school based only on price is not the best method to ensure you’ll receive the appropriate education. Don’t forget, your objective is to master the skills and knowledge that will enable you to pass the CDL examinations and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that objective in mind, just how do you select a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to address in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which CDL license you will ultimately need.

Which Commercial Drivers License Should You Get?

long haul tractor trailer in Cottonton ALTo operate commercial vehicles lawfully within the USA and Cottonton AL, a driver must attain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three license classes that a driver can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the topic of this article is how to choose a truck driver school, we will address Class A and Class B licenses. What differentiates 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 explanations for the two classes.

Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is needed to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of greater than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of greater than 10,000 lbs. Some 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 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. Several 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 Commercial Drivers Licenses might also require endorsements to drive specific types of vehicles, for instance passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate required endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to operate.

How to Assess a CDL School

Questions to ask Cottonton AL truck driving schoolsOnce you have determined which CDL you wish to obtain, you can begin the process of evaluating the Cottonton AL truck driver schools that you are looking at. As earlier mentioned, cost and location will certainly be your initial concerns. But it can’t be stressed enough that they must not be your sole considerations. Other variables, including the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly or even more important. So below are a few additional factors that you need to research while performing your due diligence before enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.

Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few trucking schools in the Cottonton AL area are accredited due to the rigorous process and expense to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more prevalent and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are a number of advantages. Prospective students recognize that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will receive an ample amount of driving time. For example, PTDI calls for 44 hours of real 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 Business? One clue to help evaluate the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in business. A poorly reviewed or a fly by night school usually will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the top Cottonton AL schools had to begin from their first day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also learn what the school’s track record is regarding successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won’t share those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should also maintain relationships with local and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only confirms an excellent reputation within the trade, but also boosts their job placement program for students. It also wouldn’t hurt to get in touch with the Alabama licensing department to verify that the CDL trucking schools you are reviewing are in good standing.

How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in Alabama and employ instructors that are experienced and trained. We will talk more about the teachers in the following section. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should not be greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be receiving the personal instruction they will need. This is especially true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And be critical of any school that claims it can teach you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short period of time. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. Most Cottonton AL schools offer training programs that run from 3 weeks to as long as two months, based on the license class or kind of vehicle.

How Experienced are the Trainers? As already stated, 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 criteria to qualify as a teacher, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also important that the instructors keep current with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing instructors might be a bit more subjective than other criteria, and perhaps the best method is to check out the school and speak with the teachers face to face. You can also talk to some of the students going through the training and ask if they are happy with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.

Adequate Driving Time? Above all else, a good truck driving school will furnish 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. While the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are essential training methods, they are no replacement for actual driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. And even though driving time fluctuates between schools, a reasonable benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide no less than 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Cottonton AL schools you are looking at and ask how much driving time they furnish.

Are they Independent or Captive ? It’s possible to receive free or discounted training from some truck driving schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a specific carrier for a defined time period. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than maintaining affiliations with numerous trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only work with one company. The tradeoff is receiving less expensive or even free training by giving up the freedom to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Clearly contract training has the potential to restrict your income prospects when starting out. But for many it may be the only way to obtain affordable training. Just be sure to ask if the Cottonton AL schools you are looking at are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.

Provide CDL Testing Onsite? There are several states that will permit third 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 provide it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than battling with graduates of competing schools for test times at Alabama testing facilities. It is moreover an indication that the DMV considers the approved schools to be of a superior quality.

Are the Classes Convenient? As previously noted, truck driver training is just 1 to 2 months long. With such a brief term, it’s imperative that the Cottonton AL school you enroll in offers flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. For example, if you’re having a hard time learning a certain driving maneuver, then the teacher should be willing to spend 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 fit in working hours or other commitments.

Is Job Placement Provided? As soon as you have received your commercial driver’s license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be keen to start your new profession. Make sure that the schools you are looking at have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking firms their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a lower job placement rate or few Cottonton AL employers recruiting their graduates, it might be a clue to search elsewhere.

Is Financial Aid Provided? Trucking schools are comparable to colleges and other Cottonton AL area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. Find out if the schools you are assessing have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that must be completed.

Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Cottonton AL?

If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Cottonton Alabama area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.

Al Mahrt

Alphonse Herman Mahrt (October 12, 1893 – June 24, 1970) was a professional football player and coach who played his entire career with the Dayton Triangles of the "Ohio League" and later the National Football League (NFL). He was an early proponent of the forward pass after the revolutionary play was added to an extensive list of regulations to college football in 1906. By 1911 when most of the pass restrictions were lifted, Mahrt debuted as regular back on St. Mary’s Institute’s (now the University of Dayton) varsity football team. Mahrt discovered that spinning the throw of the ball increased accuracy and distance, establishing an aerial offense against such teams as Xavier University and Otterbein College.

In 1913 Mahrt switched to the St. Mary’s Cadets, the precursor of the future Dayton Triangles, he was also named the team's captain. Mahrt returned to St. Mary’s varsity in 1914, and captained the team. That season a 70-yard spiral to Babe Zimmerman against Ohio Northern University set a school record. Aside from his college career, Al continued to play for the Cadets. From 1913 until 1915 the team won the Dayton City Championship every year. In 1914 Mahrt was injured through most of the season, however in 1915 he was named the team's coach. In 1918, Mahrt joined the United States Army and served in World War I.

In 1920, Al led all passers in the American Professional Football Association (renamed the NFL in 1922), completing 28 aerials for 591 yards. He would also throw 7 touchdowns on the year. He was runner-up in 1921 completing 29 that were good for 452 yards. He was chosen to the 1920 All-Pro team, which placed him as a second team quarterback. He retired from the Triangles after the 1922 season.

Choose the Ideal Trucking School Cottonton AL

tractor trailer hauling construction materials in Cottonton ALSelecting the ideal trucking school is a critical first step to beginning your new profession as a local or long distance truck driver. The skills that you will learn at school will be those that mold 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. But first and foremost, you must obtain the necessary training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are short on cash or financing, you might need to think about a captive school. You will pay a lower or in some cases no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can enroll in an independent truck driving school and have the option of driving for the trucking firm of your choice, or one of several associated with the school. It’s your decision. But regardless of how you receive your training, you will soon be joining a profession that helps America move as a professional trucker in Cottonton AL.

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